The Official Ubuntu Book (7th ed)

Author: B. M. Hill, M. Helmke & C.  Burger
Publisher: Prentice Hall, 2012
Pages: 432
ISBN: 978-0133017601
Aimed at: New and existing users of Ubuntu
Rating: 4
Pros: An enjoyable read, DVD provides complete OS
Cons: Tendency to be shallow and partisan
Reviewed by: Alex Armstrong

This isn't really a beginners introduction to Ubuntu - it's more an Ubuntu fan club book.

The 7th edition has been updated for Ubuntu 12.04, which comes supplied on DVD. It covers installation, configuration, desktop productivity, games, management, support, and much more. New in this edition is coverage of the Unity desktop, an innovative new style of human-computer interaction that has undergone extensive development and testing.
The rest of this review is based on the 5th edition. As well as Unity desktop, this edition covers LibreOffice, which is now supplied with Ubuntu.


Chapter 1 is supposedly an introduction to Ubuntu but in fact it's a recounting of the Ubuntu project and how it got started as told by the insiders who wrote this book. At the end of the chapter you won't know any more about Ubuntu the operating system, but you will know about the way it came into existence and the other projects which influenced it. Chapter 2 really is about installing Ubuntu but it is very basic - put the disc in, boot and answer the questions. It certainly wont help you solve any problems you might encounter.

Chapter 3 and 4 are about using Ubuntu but the former reads like a catalog of Ubuntu features and facilities. Chapter 4 is more oriented towards getting you to do things, but it is also very shallow and doesn't really go very far other than to tell you that the features exist.

Next we have a chapter that is arguably well out of place - The Ubuntu Server. This is a good overview of why you might need a server edition and about configuring RAID storage. This more technical than earlier chapters but still does little more than alert you to what Ubuntu server is all about.

From here the book becomes a catalog of applications and alternative installations you can use. Chapter 8 is on Gimp and graphics in general, Chapter 7 is about the Ubuntu community. Chapter 8 is on Kubuntu,  i.e Ubuntu with the KDE destop. Chapter 9 on mobile editions and Chapter 10 is on related projects. The book closes with another look at the Ubuntu community - this time the forums and at the level of naming those throught important enough to be described as a key people.

So is this a book that will tell a beginner how to use Ubuntu - no not really. What it is, as I suggested at the start, is an overview of the phenomenon that is Ubuntu and the Ubuntu development process. It is interesting reading but it isn't essential reading. So if you want to know the history of the Ubuntu project, the way it is organised, all about related projects and on the way take a look at the facilites that Ubuntu offers you might enjoy reading this book - I did.The story is interesting and even if you know a lot about Ubuntu you might not know the background details.

And did I mention that there is a copy of Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Ubuntu server and Netbook edition bound into the back cover on a DVD - this might make the book worth buying.



Start Here! Learn the Kinect API

Author: Rob Miles
Publisher: Microsoft Press
Pages: 250
ISBN: 978-0735663961
Audience: Newcomers to Kinect who already program in C#
Rating: 4.5
Reviewer: Harry Fairhead

A simple book on the Kinect API. Can it help anyone get started?

A Concise Introduction to Programming In Python

Author: Mark J. Johnson
Publisher: Chapman & Hall/CRC Press
Pages: 217
ISBN: 978-1439896945
Aimed at: Complete beginners in classroom setting
Rating: 4
Pros: Comprehensive introduction to language and concepts
Cons: No answers
Reviewed by: Sue Gee

Intended as a first course in Computer Science, is this  [ ... ]

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