Organization of This Book

Each chapter of this book contains a big chunk of information. It takes you into a world of material that could easily take up several books. But we move quickly through the topics you need to know.

Part I of the book, "Enjoying and Being Productive on Linux," introduces Linux and brings you to the point where you can do all the standard activities people do on other systems: emailing, web surfing, playing games, watching videos, and so on.

Chapter 1, Introduction to Linux

Tries to draw together many different threads. It explains why Linux came to be and what it offers that continues to attract new users and developers.

Chapter 2, Preinstallation and Installation

Describes preliminary tasks that you may have to do before installation, such as partitioning your disk, and guidance for initial Linux installation and configuration.

Chapter 3, Desktop Environments

Helps you get comfortable navigating the desktop and the most important tools, including the Evolution utility for mail, calendar, and managing contacts.

Chapter 4, Basic Unix Commands and Concepts

Offers a system administrator's introduction to Unix. It is intended to give you enough tools to perform the basic tasks you'll need to do throughout the book. Basic commands are covered, along with some tips for administrators and some concepts you should know.

Chapter 5, Web Browsers and Instant Messaging

Shows neat tricks and advanced uses for some of the popular and basic computer activities: web browsing and instant messaging.

Chapter 6, Electronic Mail Clients

Introduces other mail clients, for people who want to try something besides Evolution, and shows ways to secure email.

Chapter 7, Games

Explains the impressive array of games supported on Linux, both standalone and client/server.

Chapter 8, Office Suites and Personal Productivity

Explains how you can be just as productive in your office work on Linux as on the proprietary alternatives. The main topics are the OpenOffice office suite, KOffice office suite, and the GnuCash financial application, along with an introduction to groupware.

Chapter 9, Multimedia

Discusses audio and video, covering concepts you'll find useful, configuration for systems where the tools don't work automatically, and a few common applications. The GIMP is also introduced for image manipulation.

Part II of the book, "System Administration," shows you how to set up your Linux system and its environment for such tasks as printing and sharing files with other systems; it also shows you how to take care of your system in other ways.

Chapter 10, System Administration Basics

Covers system administration topics such as filesystems and swap space that are normally handled automatically during installation, but sometimes need user intervention.

Chapter 11, Managing Users, Groups, and Permissions

Shows you the fundamental building blocks of security on Linux: managing users and access rights (permissions).

Chapter 12, Installing, Updating, and Compiling Programs

Covers system updates, which are important both to get new features and applications and to fix security flaws.

Chapter 13, Networking

Is a basic introduction to networking, which is usually set up during installation but is worth understanding at a deeper level. The chapter shows you how to configure your system so that it can work on a local area network or communicate with an Internet service provider using Point-to-Point Protocol (PPP). ISDN and ADSL are also covered.

Chapter 14, Printing

Shows you how to get Linux to recognize printers and to manage document printing.

Chapter 15, File Sharing

Covers file sharing, with a particular focus on Samba, which allows both file and printer sharing with Windows systems.

Chapter 16, The X Window System

Shows you how to configure the X Window System, which underlies the desktops introduced in Chapter 3. We show you how to overcome problems you might encounter when your distribution installs the software and how to configure it for the best performance on your video hardware.

Chapter 17, System Start and Shutdown

Covers system startup and shutdown. Topics include the GRUB bootloader, which lets you choose between operating systems at startup time, and how to get the right services going.

Chapter 18, Configuring and Building the Kernel

Explains how to update the kernel and its modules, which may be necessary to run new Linux features or get drivers installed for your hardware.

Part III of the book, "Programming," starts exploring interesting advanced topics that make Linux a powerful asset, such as programming.

Chapter 19, Text Editing

Offers in-depth tutorials on vi and Emacs, valuable text editors. Covers text processing, an alternative to using word processors to format text documents.

Chapter 20, Text Processing

Describes tools for producing formatted documents from markup languages, including XML and the older languages TEX, troff, and Texinfo.

Chapter 21, Programming Tools

Is a wide-ranging introduction to programming on Linux, introducing a number of languages, as well as tools that you may find it useful to understand even if you are not a programmer.

Part IV of the book, "Network Services," introduces several services and other advanced networking activities.

Chapter 22, Running a Web Server

Shows you how to set up and configure Apache, the most popular web server in the world.

Chapter 23, Transporting and Handling Email Messages

Covers the easy-to-use Postfix mail server and some other useful mail tools, such as SpamAssassin.

Chapter 24, Running an FTP Server

Shows a secure way to offer files for download.

Chapter 25, Running Web Applications with MySQL and PHP

Covers the M and P in the well-known acronym LAMP, introducing the basic configuration and use of MySQL and PHP for use with Apache.

Chapter 26, Running a Secure System

Covers the ProFTPD web server, which is convenient for serving documents to colleagues or the general public.

Chapter 27, Backup and Recovery

Basic techniques for the critical task of safeguarding your data.

Chapter 28, Heterogeneous Networking and Running Windows Programs

A wealth of ways to get the best out of two diffferent environments.

Appendix, Sources of Linux Information

Tells you about useful online documentation for Linux and other sources of help.

Part I: Enjoying and Being Productive on Linux
Part II: System Administration