Book Review: Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible

Book Review:

  • Title: Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible
  • Authors: Benjamin Mako Hill, David B. Harris and Jaldhar Vyas
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Date: 2005
  • ISBN: 0-7645-7644-5

I bought this book at the same time as I also bought the Red Hat Fedora and Enterprise Linux 4 Bible. Although these books are both Linux “Bibles”, and published by the same publisher, they are in fact very different. The RedHat and Fedora book is much more geared towards the desktop user, and using the GUI based configuration tools, whereas the Debian book is much better from a command line and server management point of view. This philosophy will perhaps match the users of Debian vs Fedora quite well, although I do feel that RedHat Enterprise users may have preferred the approach offered by the Debian book (although RedHat based obviously).

One of the main reasons that I bought the book was to revise for the LPI Certification Exams. The exams cover both RPM and Dpkg so having books that cover both is good. It may have been possible to get these both from a generic book, but I hoped that separate books would cover each of the areas in more detail. In some cases these do, in others there is duplication, although this was to be expected.

Whilst this book is titled Debian Linux, it would also be of use to anyone using Ubuntu Linux. Ubuntu uses the Debian Package Management Tools (dpkg) with Debian as well as sharing a similar file layout. The Linux Desktop section won’t be quite the same on Ubuntu, but
many of the other sections will apply equally to either distribution. One other section that doesn’t is that on Apache configuration. Ubuntu is one of the few distributions that break the apache configuration into separate files for each virtual server running. This book does not cover this.

The book gives a good explanation in each section as well as practical examples. Although not as thick as some of the other bible books because it is mainly discussing command line usage or configuration files it manages to cover just as much ground if not more than those that use screen shots of GUI applications.

The book is particularly geared towards using Linux as a server. If you are wanting to build a server using Debian (or perhaps Ubuntu), or want some more reading material on Dpkg for the LPI certification then this comes highly recommended.