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Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition

Publisher: No Starch Press

If you use Ubuntu on a regular basis, you're probably wondering what's up with this title. Ubuntu for Non-Geeks suggests there is more geeky documentation out there, which is probably true, considering this is about a version of the Linux Operation System. If you haven't heard of Linux, it's an alternative to using Windows or Apple's OS X on your computer. Linux, like Windows and Mac OS X, is a modern operating system. Some adherents like to say that Linux is the modern operating system, calling the others "legacy," but we won't go that far... Ubuntu is a relatively new version of Linux that is rapidly increasing in popularity, thanks to its focus on ease-of-use for the average human. Ubuntu for Non-Geeks is a book that simply would not have been possible for the versions of Linux we were playing around with 5-10 years ago. The concept of anything Linux being accessible to non-geeks largely wasn't a reality until Ubuntu, but there are now plenty of parallel streams of "consumer-grade" Linux in the form of Android and Google's Chrome OS.

Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition is divided into 21 chapters and walks new users through the entire process of installing and using Ubuntu. The books come packaged with a CD containing version 10.04 of Ubuntu that you can use to experiment or install Linux on your computer, so everything you need is contained right here. Home users accustomed to purchasing software for hundreds or thousands of dollars may be surprised, but affordability is one part of the growing appeal of Linux. The authors make a point of walking us through the process of downloading and using the most common programs available in Ubuntu, plus sharing information on how to access even more of the goodness out there in the world of free and open-source software.

Linux books packaged with CDs or DVDs are nothing new, but the difference is in the details. Used to be, installing was half the battle and the other half was trying to get things working so you could even enjoy your desktop. Hardware support for things like monitors, mice, keyboards, and modems was dicey at best. Ubuntu, as many have observed, Just Works. It quickly identifies hardware and lets you get down to business, play, or whatever. The most interesting thing about Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition is that it just assumes the reader is installing and using Ubuntu as we use any Operating System. The usual ramp-up chapters about getting online and discovering your browser may seem incredibly remedial for Linux veterans, hence the "non-geek" aspect of Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition. Software is introduced with a focus on common, consumer uses, such as email, social media, photo storage, and video editing. Command-line stuff appears halfway through the book, introducing a level of geekiness that somewhat betrays the book's titular goal, but it's true that "there's a lot of cool stuff that can be done via the command-line," as the authors state. Other niche topics include chapters focused on specialized applications and non-English language support.

If you've used Linux seriously on the desktop within the last ten years but haven't tried Ubuntu, you probably don't need Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition. However, if you're looking for a world-class Operating System that falls outside the Microsoft and Mac camps, Ubuntu is a great place to start. Especially if you don't consider yourself a "tech" person, Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition contains all kinds of good information that will help get you up and running on Ubuntu quickly. Beyond the first 25% of the book, Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition is more for browsing, but there are some good nuggets that even experienced users will appreciate. Clearly presented and aimed squarely at the non-technical end user, Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 4th Edition lands very much on target.

-Fridtjof, GameVortex Communications
AKA Matt Paddock

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