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Keywords: Linux, business desktop, Knoppix, operating system

Title: Moving To The Linux Business Desktop

Author: Marcel Gagné

Publisher: Addison Wesley

ISBN: 0131421921

Media: Book/CD

Level: Introductory

Verdict: Recommended.

Following on from the success of Moving To Linux, author Marcel Gagné comes back with a new title in similar vein. Whereas the first book was aimed directly at the non-technical home user interesting in switching to Linux from Windows, this latest book is aimed at the business user wishing to migrate away from Microsoft. However, this is a difficult audience to target. In the vast majority of companies users have no choice about which operating system to run, and usually precious little say about applications as well. So, despite the title, the book is more suited to the small company or home office user than anyone in a corporate environment.

The shift in emphasis between this and the previous books is more than skin-deep. The choice of topics is very different, even though there is inevitably some cross-over. The aim of the book is to help migrate business users to a new operating system, so there is much more about networking, user support, user administration and so on and less on multi-media, games, graphics and so on. Topics such as file-sharing with Windows using Samba, Linux thin-clients and implementing directory systems using LDAP all get a good airing.

It's not just the operating and network system infrastructure that is covered. Business applications are also well-covered, with an emphasis on as a replacement for Microsoft's offering. The material on email looks both at Linux-hosted mail services using Postfix (though Sendmail is mentioned as well), and at using Linux mail clients to Microsoft Exchange. In all areas the book looks both at command-line tools and GUI options. The author makes clear that there is no shying away from the command-line and that learning to love the shell is essential for the Linux user and/or administrator.

The tone of the book is well-pitched, explaining things in clear language, with wry humour and an eye to those areas that are likely to stump the new Linux user. While the book does not dig deep into the internals of Linux in the same way as 'How Linux Works', for example, it is also pitched at a slightly more technical level than 'Moving To Linux'.

The book also comes with a CD of the excellent Knoppix Linux distribution. This is a bootable Linux that allows users to try it out for real and comes complete with a graphical desktop, a full set of applications and utilities. It means that the curious or the cautious can play with the operating system without risking their existing system in any way. It's a great selling tool but it also underlies the difficulties that the book has in finding the right audience. Knoppix is fine for the lone user but surely anyone in a corporate environment is going to go the whole hog and have a test machine and SuSE, Fedora or Debian to play with?

Despite these caveats, which are more to do with the target audience than in the content of the book, this is an interesting and useful read. For any home users wanting to switch to Linux this is a good place to start, particularly if your machine is used for work as well as play.

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Contents © TechBookReport 2004. Published November 9 2004