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Book Review: Red Hat Fedora and Enterprise Linux 4 Bible

Book Review:

I bought this book to help with my revision for the LPIC exams. In particular I wanted them to help with the LPIC 201 and LPIC 202 exams, which do not have the same range of online resources or specific revision books.

As the book describes itself as the Red Hat Fedora and Enterprise Linux 4 Bible, you would expect this to be a fairly comprehensive guide. A quick look at the book, which is over 1000 pages long, including 28 chapters plus appendices, and it certainly sounds promising. When you get down to the details some of the information is a bit vague.

Firstly obviously this book is specific to Fedora and RedHat Enterprise Linux. The LPIC exams are however not tied to any particular distribution. I also bought the Debian Bible, although these are very different books. I will not be drawing direct comparisons to the Debian Bible in this review.

This book does not just cover the server side of the operating system, but also covers topics such as: Using the desktop; Running Windows, DOS and Macintosh applications; Publishing (including wordprocessing / Open Office); Gaming; Music, Video and Images; and using the Internet (including web browsers, e-mail, and instant messaging). So after dismissing these chapters as not relevant (for what I wanted the book for), then the content was much less than it first appears.

Generally the book is good. Each section includes an explanation of the basic principles, and often provides command-line tools / details of files to edit as well as the GUI tools available.

This is not the case for all the sections. For example the Print Setup would not be of much use to someone wanting to sit the LPI exams (particularly up to the first half of 2006), as it only really covers CUPs and concentrates on using the web interface, without providing details of how this could be configured manually. The lpr commands get only two pages to cover all the theory and practical use of the commands. For the average Linux "User" this is appropriate, but with the title of Bible I expected more detailed explanations which would be relevant to either the LPI Certification, or for use by those administering servers.

The information on networking servers and mysql is fairly basic, but it is included. If you want to know more than the basics then you'll need to get another book, but the fact that they are covered to the extent they are is good. There are a few areas that could have done with a bit more information, particularly if you want to use it for LPI revision.

This is a good book, and the one thing that lets it down is that it tries to cover everyone, and so the book is a bit unwieldy. I would have found a server oriented book may have been more relevant for my needs and would have been easier to use. On the other hand if you use Fedora or Red Hat on a desktop machine and would like the additional information on dealing with media / applications then this puts everything into one book.

New Edition Red Hat Fedora 5 and Enterprise Linux

Since I purchased this book a more recent edition has been published including Red Hat Fedora 5. I expect there are only fairly minor updates, with some of the new features of updated programs covered.


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