Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux(R)

Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux(R)

by Peter van der Linden


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"Linux software is like gold on the moon. It's wonderful, if you have a way to get it."
—Kevin Carmony, President and CEO, Linspire Inc.
Sick of Windows Viruses, Crashes, and Expensive Upgrades?

There's a better alternative: Linux. It's not just for "geeks" anymore. It's for you—and it's for real. With Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux®, Linux isn't just powerful, it's easy and fun.

While writing this book, the author spent an entire year helping new Linux users get started and once again demonstrated that he is flat-out brilliant at simplifying technology. He knows all the tricks and the quickest ways to help make you productive. Before demonstrating how to do something faster, easier, and better with Linux, he reminds you how it works in Windows. Along the way, he anticipates potential missteps and questions, and fills in the gaps other books ignore.

  • Get connected to the Internet, your email account, instant messaging, and your network
  • Get productive with OpenOffice, the amazing Microsoft Office clone that's absolutely free
  • Get solutions with van der Linden's easy, step-by-step troubleshooting help
  • Get into digital media—music, movies, DVDs, CD burning, digital photography, and more
  • Get secure and keep your data and email private with CIA-strength encryption
  • Get beyond the basics and leave Windows behind, download the best free software, and even master the command line

The book includes a Linspire 5.0 CD-ROM, the world's easiest desktop Linux! Boot into Linux from the included CD, without installing anything or changing any Windows files at all.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780131872844
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Publication date: 09/09/2005
Pages: 640
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 9.25(h) x 0.92(d)

About the Author

Peter van der Linden is one of the world’s foremost computer book authors. He’s been in the computer industry for more than twenty-five years, working for companies ranging from start-ups to Apple and Sun Microsystems. van der Linden is also author of The Official Handbook of Practical Jokes (NAL-Penguin, 1991).

Read an Excerpt

Maybe you're thinking back to the last time you tried something new, and got less-than-happy results.

Maybe you've been burned by technology before, like Sony's hated and costly MiniDisc format, Dell's troubled Movie Studio Plus bundle from 2002, or the original Pentium from Intel with the faulty multiplier.

Whether your concerns arise from past experience, or from fear of an unknown future, it's a reasonable question: Am I going to be OK with Linux?

This has three components:

  • Will Linux run on my PC without problems?
  • Can I learn to use Linux easily?
  • Will Linux install on my PC without problems?

Running Linux. Linux works with IBM PC-compatible computers, and on a great many more computer architectures too. Linux is a mainstream technology in the business world, and that's a place that quickly drops things that aren't cost effective. As long as you have a PC that runs at 800 MHz or more, with at least 256 MB memory, you're good to go.

Learning Linux. So how easy is it to learn Linux? That depends partly on you. How much interest do you have in learning a new skill? How much time can you put into it? Since you're reading this book, the answers must at least be "some" and "a bit." I don't want to trivialize the effort to master a new operating system, but it's really not that big a deal. The Linux installed base overtook the Macintosh installed base in 2004, and a large number of people taught themselves to be Mac-savvy.

All current windowing systems—all window-based GUIs—do pretty much the same things in the same ways. If you can find the main navigation button in Linux (bottom left of the window, same as in Windows, labeled Launch), you can find all the applications. If you can find the applications, you can learn by doing.

With the help of this book, the Linux customer support forums, and online documentation, you don't need to worry about getting stuck. You can learn Linux at your own pace and with a safety net.

Installing Linux. "Ah!" I hear you ask, "What about installing Linux?" Here, I have to acknowledge, lies an area that can cause frustration. The issue is that a few peripherals on your PC may be supported only under Windows. You might find that your modem or wifi card works on Windows and not on Linux. I'll get into the remedies for this situation in due course, but prepare yourself now for the possibility.

The easiest way to make all Linux installation issues disappear entirely is to acquire Linux the same way you acquired Windows—preinstalled on a PC by the vendor. A number of mainstream vendors will sell you a Linux PC, including Walmart, CompUSA, Staples, and MicrotelPC. Whether you buy a preinstalled Linux system, or re-use an existing PC, installation is a manageable problem, with the answers in this text.

The answer to the question. Here's the bottom line. I know a lot of people who have successfully learned Linux. I don't know anyone who has tried to learn Linux and failed.

Yes, you are going to be OK with Linux too.

Table of Contents



About the Author.

1. Hello Linux.

Why Linux Now?

Windows Woes.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Linux.

Linux Background.

GNU/Linux Distributions.

The Linspire Distro.

The Significance of Open Source Software.

What Next for Uncle Josh.

What Next for You.

2. Running the Linux Live CD.

Getting Started.

System Requirements for Running the Live CD.

How a Live CD Works.

Booting and Running Linspire from the Live CD.

Getting Help.

3. The KDE Desktop.

Getting Started.

Different Operating Systems, Similar GUIs.

GUIs Are Mature Technology.

Introduction to the KDE Desktop.

The KDE Panel.

How Your Folders Are Organized in KDE.

Using the Konqueror File Manager.

Advanced KDE Techniques.

Making Better Use of Screen Real Estate.

Linux and X Window.

Help Menus and More Information.

4. Onto the Net.

Getting Started.

Bringing the Internet to Your Home.

Networking Inside Your Home.

Alternative 1: A Wired Ethernet Connection.

Alternative 2: A Wireless Ethernet Connection.

Alternative 3: A Dial-Up Network Connection.

5. All About Email.

Getting Started.

Using Web-Based Mail.

Using a Standalone Mail Program.

Setting Up Mozilla Email.

Using Other Email Clients.

Junk Mail Control.


6. Web Tools.

Getting Started.

Firefox Browser.

Nvu Web Page Editor.

7. Adding Software.

Getting Started.

Introducing Linspire's Click-N-Run.

Linux Packages.

Using Debian's Advanced Packaging Tool.

Adding a Menu Item for a New Application.

Compiling and Installing Software from Source Code.

Building from Source: GNU Privacy Guard Application.

8. More Applications.

Getting Started.


Instant Messenger.

Lphoto and Digital Photography.

9. Filesystems and Optical Storage (CDs and DVDs).

Getting Started.

Filesystems and How to Mount Them.

Reading Data CDs and Creating Device Icons.

Burning Data CDs.

Burning an Image or ISO File.

Playing Music CDs.

Rip, Mix, Burn-Creating Music CDs!

Playing Movie DVDs.

Making a Backup Copy of a Movie DVD.

Sound and Burner Troubleshooting.

10. Sharing on Your Local Network.

Introduction to Workgroup Networking.

Shortcut: Sharing Files Without a Network.

Setting Up Windows Workgroup Networking.

Setting Up Windows Clients.

Setting Up Linux Clients.

Setting Up Print Servers.

Remote Desktop Sharing.

11. Keeping Your Data Private.

Why This Information Is Important.

Who Me, Do Encryption?

Before You Begin.

Introducing GNU Privacy Guard.

Basics of Public Key Encryption.

Creating Your Own GPG Key.

Encrypting Files.

Using Key Management.

Limitations of Encryption.

Summary of Common gpg Commands.

Encrypting Email.


12. Installation and Boot.

Getting Started.

Linux with Zero Effort: Buying Linux Preinstalled.

Installation Checklist.

Downloading Your Linux Distro and Burning It to CD.

What Happens During an Installation.

More About Disk Partitions.

Choosing Whether to Dual Boot.

Choice A-Wiping Out Windows.

Choice B-Putting Linux on a Separate Disk.

Choice C-Advanced Installation for Dual Boot.

What Happens During a Boot.

Linspire Installation.

Post-Installation Setup.

Troubleshooting After Installation.

System Administration Know-How.

The End, and the Beginning: Going Forward With Linux.

Appendix A: Malicious Windows Software.

Windows Viruses Are Getting More Dangerous.

More About Backdoors.

Windows Web Servers Penetrated Worldwide.

Appendix B: Making Your Hardware Obey You-BIOS and Device Drivers.

Troubleshooting BIOS.

Troubleshooting Balky Devices.

Checking Hardware for Linux Compatibility.

Appendix C: Sample Output from Wifi Network Commands.

Appendix D: Commands for the Command Line.

Getting Started.

About Commands Generally.

Working with Files.

Working with Folders.

Working with Samba.

Sharing Folders That Aren't Under /root.

Filesystem Utilities.

The Most Powerful Part of Linux (Not Included).

Appendix E: Disk Basics and Partitioning.

Partition Overview.

Reducing the Size of the Windows Partition.

Creating a Linux Partition.

Restoring the Windows MBR.

GRUB Procedures.

Appendix F: Troubleshooting with Strace.

Using Strace (For Experts Only).

The Corresponding Source Code of "touchc".

Where to Find Linux Source Code.

Finding the Pathname for a GUI Application.


About the CD.

Customer Reviews

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Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux(R) 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Linux is not for everyone. But it is as good as Windows, or better, for a lot of people who don't even know it yet. Van der Linden's book and the accompanying CD are a great way to find out if it is for you. Most Linux books seem to take it for granted that you already want to use Linux, that you are sure it's better than Windows, and that you're eager to use it. So eager, you're willing to go through a lot of pain and confusion to get there. Most of us aren't like that. Most of us have work or personal computers we need to use every day. We don't want to lose a lot of time or productivity dealing with a new operating system, no matter how much better it will be at the end of the road. To the rescue comes Peter van der Linden, with his doughty companion Linspire. Van der Linden walks you through everything you need to know to make Linux your new home. And you can learn it first-hand on the computer you already have, just by running off of the Linspire CD. Browser. Email. Word processing and office applications. Image manipulation. Network connections. Printers. Pretty much anywhere you open the book, you will find good, solid information, written so you can understand and use it without a lot of page-flipping or puzzling through confusing grammar and largely irrelevant, overly technical asides. You will also learn why so many smart people choose Linux over Windows. Security, cost, software bloat, Microsoft's business practices, it's all explained right here, clearly, without condescending techspeak or juvenile hostility. Van der Linden rightly observes, 'there is no reason to force readers through installation before getting to the good stuff of using Linux day-to-day.' So the chapter on installation is waiting at the end of the book for whenever you finally love Linux enough to want to install it. And, thanks to the author's wise choice of distro, it isn't all that hard to do once you do get there. It's not the only book you'll ever need, but if you already have a Windows box, van der Linden's book and the accompanying CD are all you need to start with.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is outstanding and important! I've been using Linux since 2001. During that time I have explored many books for people relatively new to Linux. Originally for myself, then as resources to expose others to Linux. Most of them lack one key ingredient that Peter van der Linden grasps wonderfully....balance. Balance between how to's, the culture of open source, the history, and still being entertaining and readable. He has not only accomplished balance, but he has excelled at it. You do not have to read his book cover to cover, but you can. His entertaining style and injection of humor (yes, humor) will keep you reading. As a reference, the book is wonderful. It will not collect dust my bookshelf, this book will rest beside my computer and likely become dog eared from use. Entertaining, informative, and useful are words that I rarely use to describe a book. In this case, it has earned the accolade. It also a book I wish had been published in 2001. What does he do well? He uses the Linspire 5-0 Operating System to introduce you to Linux. This is a great starting point for people to springboard from with its ease of use and familiar interface. It really is the World's Easiest Desktop Linux. He not only tells you how things work the way they do, but why they work the way they do. Sometimes, he even gives you background information on certain aspect ranging from how an application came to be to landmark court decision. He uses a logical progression in his topics. So many ¿newbie¿ Linux books start you off with how to install Linux. Your brain is so scrambled with partitioning and BIOS that the rest of the book is intimidating. Peter van der Linden starts with concepts that everyone can grasp such as surfing the web and using e mail. He then takes you on a tour of task like adding software, networking, and finally takes you into installation and booting. He breaks down intimidating concepts such as networking and encryption to easily understood and applicable realities for any user. The appendix is actually useful! This may sound trite, but it is true. I cannot tell you how many books I have read and never committed more than a cursory glance at the appendix. His are useful and consistent with the rest of the book. It's easy to read. Again, this too may sound trite. But I have seen many a book on Linux that is not written with the real user in mind. There are other times where I have read books on Linux written at so simplistic a level it speaks down to the reader as if they were infants barely able to grasp a mouse. Peter van der Linden has shown an understanding of not only Linux, but the needs of real people without going over their heads or insulting their intelligence.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As a computer professional, Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux really hit home with me. I wish everyone who feels frustration with the never ending cycle of problems with their Microsoft Windows PC could see that there is another way, and Mr. van der Linden's Guide to Linux is where to begin. What you won't find inside the pages of his guide is the techno-talk, uber geekspeak baloney that has traditionally been the reputation of Linux. How about this: It's honest, well paced, easy to read and understand... dare I say it, it's fun! Along with the Guide you'll recieve a copy of Linspire, the world's easiest desktop linux. Between the guide and the CD you'll discover what geeks have known for years: Linux is fun! I reccomend Peter van der Linden's Guide to Linux for both the Linux-curious and the Microsoft-weary. It's just that good.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Linden offers a strong push into linux, for those of you that might be wavering between it and Microsoft or the Mac. He shows that you can do many things in linux that can be done in other operating systems. Notably, the use of OpenOffice, in place of the Microsoft Office suite. The most contentious point of the book is probably the author's choice of the linux distribution ['distro'] that is on the CD accompanying the book. He advocates Linspire, a commercial offshoot of Debian linux, and that is what you will find on the CD. Personally, I don't distinguish [much] between the linux variants. But to some of you, Linspire will be problematic. Without going into the pros and cons of Linspire, those of you who object are probably not the intended audience anyway. If you know enough about linux to prefer another version, then you don't need the book. The more basic point is that if you're new to linux, Linspire is a perfectly acceptable choice. And I say this as a user of the Red Hat and Fedora variants. Besides, Linspire is a variant that explicitly and strongly targets users with a Microsoft background. Offering a transition that is claimed to be as painless as possible.