All original content copyright © Tom Wilkinson 2003-5. All rights reserved.

The Joy Of Linux

While most other books about Linux concentrate on how to do a task, or the particular features of some open source program. The Joy of Linux, however, takes a very different tack. It looks at the Linux community, studying aspects of why the OS is so successful. It takes a look at the evolution of UNIX, taking a brief foray into the history of DOS and Windows, mentioning the marketing tactics employed by Microsoft (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) and paying homage to DR-DOS, one of their early competitors.

After explaining some history, the book discusses the concept of the linux guru. These, it is said, are complex individuals who can guide a newbie through the intricacies of getting to know linux, until of course he puts a foot wrong ( in this case the author's choosing emacs over vi). Anecdotes such as this keep the book easy to read, breaking up the more serious ideas and concepts. One such concept which has an entire chapter devoted is that of women in the IT industry. This starts by talking about the sexism which permeates across the sector, and then moves on to discuss some of the groups which have been formed to try to combat these stigma. This was something I was not expecting to read, however its inclusion is not out of place, and indeed the view of the linux cultural world would not have been complete without it.

The second half of the book talks about uses for and running Linux. The first noitable chapter here is on security and viruses; it takes a much more security-conscious view than most. While the usual figures about viruses are wheeled out, complacency is warned against and the point driven home that a machine should be kept up to date. In addition the reader is strongly discouraged from logging on as root, a wise precaution which is not always pushed as much as it should be. It then goes on to talk about embedded linux, and makes a whistlestop tour through the world of gaming under linux, something whose future is currently clouded. The book concludes with a list of other resources for those wishing to learn more - links to distros, Richard Stallman essays and the like.

Overall, The Joy Of Linux is easy to read and provides a welcome introduction to linux culture. The only thing that really fell flat were the cartoons which accompany the text - obviously aimed at the American maket, a lot of the jokes just aren't funny. However this is forgivable as the anecdotes in the text quite often make up for this.


An interesting introduction to the cultural side of Linux

Score: 7/10
Pic of me. If you're lucky