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Review Ubuntu for Non-Geeks, 3rd Edition

Discussion in 'Articles, Reviews and Interviews' started by tripwire45, Jul 30, 2008.

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  1. tripwire45
    Honorary Member

    tripwire45 Zettabyte Poster

    Author: Rickford Grant
    Format: Paperback, 360 pages
    Publisher: No Starch Press; 3rd edition ( June 9, 2008 )
    ISBN-10: 1593271808
    ISBN-13: 978-1593271800

    Review by James Pyles
    July 30, 2008

    Not too long ago, I reviewed The Official Ubuntu Book, Third Edition published by Prentice Hall (July 13, 2008). The thing about reviewing a later edition of an already successful book, is that you need to make sure it updates to the current version of whatever it's describing, which in this case is Ubuntu 8.04, the Hardy Heron. I dinged the Benjamin Mako Hill, et al. book, primarily because it didn't address readers who were already dedicated Ubuntu users and who needed to know the ins and outs of upgrading vs. doing a clean install. I've since learned (and it wasn't addressed in the Prentice Hall book) that there actually is a direct upgrade patch from 6.06 to 8.04 (and this information was a little hard to come by). I needed that information, because performing that upgrade was the task I needed to perform. Rickford Grant's third edition book arrived at my home yesterday. How will this book appeal to the complete Ubuntu newbie vs. the experienced "non-geek" with upgrade needs?

    One of the "dangers" of writing later editions to earlier successful books, is the tendency to just sprinkle the pages you've already written with bits and pieces of information that address the updated version of your subject (Ubuntu). There were definitely portions of the book that had changed little, if at all, from the two previous versions. The Linux history lesson will always be the same of course, so that didn't worry me. I was pleased to find that Grant seamlessly integrated the new and old data in this third edition. Having read the first two editions, I could tell where information had been changed, but the "copy and paste" effect wasn't overwhelmingly obvious. This is a book Grant went over with care to make sure that it would appeal to the new and "repeat" reader alike.

    My special agenda for the Hardy Heron books I have reviewed or intend to review, is how they address an audience like me. Let's say I'm a 6.06 or 7.10 user who wants to upgrade my system. I am afraid of damaging or blowing away all of my current configuration settings, application settings, and of course, my data. Can I safely use the update manager to upgrade to 8.04, or am I safer backing up all my data and doing a fresh install? Are there any differences I can expect from using Ubuntu 8.04 from an upgrade vs. a fresh install (there are, since I've tested both, but the differences are largely cosmetic)? Answers, man! I need answers! Do you deliver and if so, how much digging do I have to do to find the data I need?

    The good news is that if you are a first time Ubuntu Hardy Heron user and a "non-geek", Grant continues to live up to his reputation as an "Ubuntu writer for the masses". As I previously mentioned, if I didn't know this was a third edition and I didn't know how subsequent editions of previously published books are written (I used to think that each subsequent edition was re-written from scratch...silly me), I wouldn't be able to tell that prior content had been integrated into newer information. This is a book that stands on its own for the new Ubuntu user who wants to learn the nuts and bolts of Hardy Heron on the desktop. Again, Kudos to Rickford Grant for his good work.

    The bad news is that a search of the table of contents, index, and scanning through the pages of this 3rd edition, produced no information that would help a person running a previous version of Ubuntu and had questions about upgrading. There is a nice, two-page write up on the Update Manager which would have been the perfect opportunity for Grant to address these issues. Alas, the opportunity was passed by. So far, two for two books I've reviewed on Hardy Heron seem to pretend that all Ubuntu desktop users begin and end with this edition and aren't currently using Gutsy Gibbon or Dapper Drake. Bummer. I really wanted Grant to be the one to include the obvious.

    In one sense, writing a book on a piece of rapidly developing software much be like a dream. You have a guaranteed continued income stream as long as the topic of your book continues to be updated. That's both a good and a bad thing, depending on how dedicated an author you are and how much you like to do research. Grant did a fine job of updating to the current version of Ubuntu in this third edition and for new Ubuntu users who want the inside scoop on using Hardy Heron on the desktop, Sadly, he dropped the ball as far as continuing to address his earlier readers who want to learn how to turn our "aging" Ubuntus into brand new Hardy Herons. I highly recommend picking up this text if you've never used Ubuntu before and have a burning need to learn how Ubuntu 8.04 will benefit you on the desktop (and it really will). For those of us with a few years of Ubuntu under our belts and who want to upgrade what we've already got, I guess http://ubuntuforums.org is the best place for us to get clued in.
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  2. abi_allan

    abi_allan New Member

    oh meh gosh i neva thought so8)

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