The first edition of this had some less than stellar reviews at Amazon, but must have sold well enough to deserve a second edition. It may be that some people just don't like Marcel's chatty style; his "Cooking with Linux" column at Linux Journal has attracted some complaints also.
I happen to like Marcel's style, and thoroughly enjoyed this in spite of it being too basic for me specifically. I'm also pleased to see that more of this sort of introductory work is being published. I tend to be a bit negative about the future of Linux on the desktop, and may be too negative: the reality may be more rosy than this grumpy old pessimist thinks. Having more "new to Linux" style books must indicate a good number of interested buyers, or at least the publisher's belief that such buyers are poised just over the next ridge. I sure hope so - the future of Linux desktops is an opinion where I would love to be in error.
Having said that this was too basic for my level of experience doesn't mean I learned nothing within its pages. Marcel packs a lot of interesting digressions, pointers to web pages and useful software, and other tips into this book. I did glean several very pleasant and useful tips from these asides. If you buy this as a gift for someone who might get good use from it, you might want to read it yourself before passing it on. I suspect you'll enjoy the experience.
One of the complaints made about the first edition was that it gives short coverage to installation. This edition is also a little short in that regard, but I think that's quite appropriate. Ordinarily, no one should encounter any major obstacles installing modern versions of Linux. Yes, certainly there can be problems with certain hardware, but you can't expect a book like this to get into great detail about that sort of problem. Doing that would probably confuse and turn off more readers than it would help, so I feel that the attention given was exactly right.
There are almost 150 more pages in this second edition than there were in the first, and as before, it includes a slightly modified Knoppix live CD for the new user to play with.
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More Articles by Tony Lawrence © 2011-04-29 Tony Lawrence
[This] reminds me of a quotation from somebody that, whenever he tried to explain the logical structure of a programming language to a programmer, it was like a cat trying to explain to a fish what it feels like to be wet. (Saul Gorn)