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I have been using Linux for years and have never really felt 100% confident with it.

I have bought a couple of 'Linux' books and, each time, I am disappointed to read that they are aimed at more advanced users.

I was about to buy 'Linux Administration: A Beginner's Guide' and, yet again, its introductory page says:

A part of the title of this book reads "A beginners Guide"; this is mostly apt. But what the title should say is "A Beginner's to Linux Administration Guide"...we assume that you are already familiar with Microsoft Windows servers at a power user level or better.

So, I am really struggling to find a book that is going to give me the introductory knowledge that is needed to fill in the basics before I go on to read the 'Beginning Linux books'. Perhaps one of the Unix Classics, (whatever that might be).

Just to give you an insight into my goals: I am not so interested in becoming a system administrator, more of a lead web developer.


Which book would you recommend to gain enough foundation to learn Linux well enough to be a lead developer?

To make this question as objective as possible, in order to be a valid answer:

  • it must be a book
  • the introduction to the book should not say "we assume the reader is already a power user / experienced in linux / sys admin"
  • by reading the book I'd be able to be suitably qualified to read "Linux Administration: A Beginner's Guide"

Update in response to: Re: “This is like asking for a book that teaches you how to ride a bicycle.

If we were to use that analogy the one answer would be "The highway code". Because, although you might have learned to ride a bike in your backyard, its the kind of book you should read before you go out onto the main roads. It does not require you to have had experience of cycling before you read and understand it. It is not intended as a substitute for hands-on experience. And, by reading it, you avoid the need to run man redtrafficlight as you approach a junction.

The following are books which I have bought/considered buying, but discovered that they do not meet the criteria:

  • Fedora Linux, Tyler
  • Linux in a Nutshell,
  • Beginning Ubuntu LTS Server Administration, Sander van Vugt
  • Unix and Linux System Administration Handbook, Nemeth et al
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closed as too broad by Ramesh, jasonwryan, Patrick, Thomas Nyman, slm May 14 at 5:49

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

@JW01 as a webserver system administrator. Please learn how to do my job before becoming a lead web developer. You don't have to become an expert at it. But you need to learn the common mistakes, and common problems we have that are caused by people who are "lead web developer's". my advice. cache, cache, cache. cache it client side, cache it server side, cache the object, cache the query. We have lots of lead developers who are blaming our servers for the fact that their code sucks and they know nothing about server administration. –  xenoterracide May 22 '11 at 5:16
I'd like to add that you cannot become a lead-web-developer by reading. You need to just do it (tm). Pick a web development language or framework and then run with it. –  sybreon May 22 '11 at 5:27
This is like asking for a book that teaches you how to ride a bicycle. –  Kim May 22 '11 at 5:53
@JW01 you might want too check out this thread which doesn't seem to have a whole lot of books on it, but still. –  xenoterracide May 22 '11 at 5:55
@xenoterracide re: "Please learn how to do my job before becoming a lead web developer. You don't have to become an expert at it". - that's what I am trying to do. –  JW01 May 22 '11 at 6:09

3 Answers 3

You're funny. I recommend "The Unix Programming Environment" by Kernighan and Pike.

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This isn't what he wants, as it is not about administration. It's not entirely your fault though, since he is looking for a magic book. –  Kim May 22 '11 at 5:53
Thanks Keith. This is exactly the kind of book I'm looking for going by the product description: "Designed for first-time and experienced users". Not quite sure why i'm funny though? :o) –  JW01 May 22 '11 at 6:17

The Art of Unix Programming - Eric S. Raymond

For me this book is the secret "Highway Code to Using Linux". It's potentially the perfect answer.

The book's title might cause a newby Linux user to disregard it (especially if they are not interested in programming 'it', per se). But, it has been an amazing read that reveals many things that other books, even beginner books, tend to skip over as 'common knowledge'. The things that may well be 'common knowledge' for students of C and people with big beards from the 1960's.

The author, has taken the time to spell-out the complex history, personalities and design decisions that have culminated into the Linux that we know today (with all its funny idiosyncrasies).

I feel enlightened.

Give a yacc a man page and he'll compile for a day, force him to walk a mile in your shoes and he'll, at last, notice the mouse in the room.

(I am not going to choose the winning answer until I have read the other two so far suggested.)

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Perhaps Running Linux would be a good book for you to begin with before you read your system administration book. I think it covers a little bit of everything. Admittedly I have not read it. Also the chapter on Gnome and KDE is certainly out of date. Though anything that a webdeveloper should need won't really be.

FYI, I have never read this book, I was an advanced user before I found this book. I learned by DIY.

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Thanks. The reviews look promising - so it might just fit the bill. –  JW01 May 22 '11 at 19:23

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