A Pair of Linux Stocking Stuffers

Opinion: Want a quick and easy introduction to Linux? Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols offers two reading suggestions that will help get you started.

All I want for Christmas is a Linux for everyone to enjoy. And I found it.

You can find it, too, in Robin "Roblimo" Millers new book, "Point & Click Linux!"

Ive often recommended CD-bootable Linux distributions such as Knoppix and Gnoppix as ideal distributions to get your feet wet with Linux, and I still do. But getting a distribution off the Web has one problem: You have to set it up yourself. Wouldnt it be great to have someone by your side who could help you?

Well, for all practical intents, thats what "Point & Click Linux" gives you. Its an easy-to-read, easy-to-use introduction to Linux and some of its most popular desktop software, such as OpenOffice.org, Mozilla, the Kopete IM (instant message) client and the GIMP graphics.

And if youre the kind of person who has trouble getting from the book to the PC, this book also comes with a DVD with what really are easy-to-follow videos for the basics.

This book is based on the popular Debian-based Linux, MEPIS. You can both give it a try as a CD-based distribution or go whole-hog and install it on your PC.

Another thing I like about this particular distribution is that it gives you a good desktop Linux even on slower machines. I currently have it running on a 733MHz Pentium III white box with a mere 128MBs of RAM, and its actually a pleasure to use.

I might add thats the first time Ive found any operating system a pleasure to use on that machine.

Ive looked at more than a hundred Linux books now, and this is by far the friendliest of the whole collection for beginners. If you ever wanted to give your grandpa, or anyone else for that matter, a quick and easy way to get started with Linux, "Point & Click Linux" is the book.

If you already know something of Linux and you want more, I have another recommendation for a Linux book to put under your Christmas tree. Or, to be more precise, to order for early next year. Its Dee-Ann Leblancs "Linux for Dummies" Sixth Edition.

Its important to note that "Sixth Edition." Several of the older editions were … well, not that good. Starting with the fifth edition, which is the one thats currently available, its really improved.

This "Dummies" book does a good job both of introducing Linux and the basics and of giving users an overview of SuSE, Mandrake, Xandros, Linspire (formerly Lindows) and Knoppix desktop Linuxes.

But the latest editions main focus is on Red Hats Fedora Core 3. Fedora is a cutting-edge Linux, and in so much as it can be made beginner-friendly, Leblanc does so. Still, for real beginners, I prefer "Point & Click Linux." That said, "Linux for Dummies" is a fine choice for people who arent PC dummies.

eWEEK.com Senior Editor Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols has been using and writing about operating systems since the late 80s and thinks he may just have learned something about them along the way.


Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest open-source news, reviews and analysis.