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I did find this book,

but I was wondering whether there's a newer book on the market, because this one was released in 2004. I'm sure a lot has changed in the past 7 years?

I need a book that helps me understand linux, instead of just giving me console recipes to reach certain goals. I need an overview picture of all its important components and how they work together, without going too much into kernel internals.

Any help would be appreciated on finding an appropriate book for an administrator who is interested in this wonderful OS called Linux. I'm not a newbie to Linux, I just want to get the bigger picture, without turning myself into a kernel hacker. I already know what the Linux kernel is and does, I just want to know how it is leveraged in the larger scheme of things, and how everything that sits on top of it is organized, and the reason why certain things are organized the way they are.

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5 Answers

up vote 7 down vote accepted

A lot has changed in 7 years. However Unix systems are accretive; their history pervades their entire current structure. Given that, focusing just on Linux, IMHO, narrows your focus too quickly. You'll learn much about Linux in the course of understanding Unix and Unix-like systems.

Since you noted you're looking for material from the viewpoint of an administrator I'll start by recommending Essential System Administration (Frisch) along with Practical Unix and Internet Security (Garfinkle & Spafford). Although these books are circa 2002/3 they're still extremely useful and highly practical in orientation (and your question reads as if getting oriented is what you want). (Garfinkel/Spafford) still has the best explanation of file ownership and permissions I've ever read (Linux and BSD) and (Frisch) is comprehensive in scope (even covers AIX in good detail). Combine those with Unix and Linux System Administration Handbook (Nemeth), which is current, and you'll get a solid, practical grounding in things Unix/Linux.

Another book that I found highly useful was The Art of Unix Programming (Raymond). The title, to me, is misleading; (Raymond) focuses on the philosophy of the Unix systems and how and why things are organized (again, that pervasive history as noted above). I had more than a few "Aha!" moments when I read it.

Finally, if you've settled on a Debian-based distribution than I second the recommendation of The Debian System (Krafft). That along with a copy of the Debian Policy and you'll be able to understand why Ubuntu and various Debian spin-offs organize things the way they do.

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I think best of the bests will be: "Abraham Silberschatz - Operating System Concepts"

I have learned from there all of basics of all Operating systems and I think every system administrator should first read that book to understand how it is all works.

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The best all-over book I've read about Unix & Linux is:

The UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook

Some consider this a bible, and I would agree. It is definitely not a book that will sit and collect dust.

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That's a really good book, but since he/she is interested specifically on Linux I would recommend Linux Administration Handbook (2nd Edition) instead. –  faif Dec 19 '11 at 17:57
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@faif, as you can see at the link you gave, the book you mention is from 2006, and the one MaxMackie suggest is from 2010. –  Hanan N. Dec 19 '11 at 18:35
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Unix has been around for a very long time - and most of it hasn't changed. So until such time as you've got a grasp of the basics I wouldn't worry too much about getting a more recent book.

I would recommend the rute though.

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I'm reading The Debian System, a book my friend recommended. So far it has been so good. Generally I suggest that you embrace a distro that feels right to yourself and learn about it. Distro-hopping is a nice habit that shows you how things are done in more than one way. Another thing in the must-do list is to install LFS or Gentoo. There are just too many things to read along the way :)

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