Mike Chirico on 5 Apr 2008 16:22:54 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] Suggested reading

On Fri, Apr 04, 2008 at 08:38:20PM -0400, JP Vossen wrote:
> > Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2008 19:44:09 -0400
> > From: "David A. Harding" <dave@dtrt.org>
> > 
> > On Thu, Apr 03, 2008 at 02:23:56PM -0400, william antill wrote:
> >> I run linux as my main machine, [and I'd] really like to [...] do more
> >> with it. Any suggestions?
> > 
> > I think books are the worst way to learn a totally new subject. They
> > create no commitment. When the going gets tough, the book gets put down.
> I have to disagree with that, I think it depends on the person.  I agree 
> that finding a project and committing to doing it will force you to 
> learn a heck of a lot.  But rather than waste a lot of time at the 

Yeah, it's a hard question to answer. I'd recommend reading a lot, and
definitely hands on. I get the unlimited version of O'Reilly Safari on

There are a few good magazines. Below are the ones that I get.

Linux Journal
Linux Magazine (www.linux-magazine.com)
Linux Magazine (www.linux-mag.com) 
Linux User & Developer 
Dr. Dobb's

In my opinion, there are three general types of Linux users.

1. System Admins

They know Perl, Bash, awk, sed, how to route with the ip command,
setup email (Postfix/sendmail), configure DNS. Also how to configure
GFS, NFS, work with Cfengine, Apache, Tomcat, MySQL, Snort, kickstart
scripts using PXE boot). Plus how to format and mount disks. They'll
know the trade offs of not using, or even using noatime, (PXE boot),
fdisk with ext2,ext3, reiserFS, and maybe XFS, and how to configure
grub.  These are your Red Hat CE/CISSP types. And,they usually prefer
vi to emacs.  These also configure VMware plus their routers. Also,
these people seem to be very vocal about supporting Linux and
sometimes Sun. The good ones read a lot, and experiment.  Books:
"Programming Perl, 3rd Edition", "Higher Order Perl", "Bash Cook
Book","Learning the bash Shell, 3rd Edition", "Cfengine" - the one
through USENIX. Usually a member of Sage.  "Apache Cookbook", "DNS and
Bind 5th edition", "Essential SNMP, 2nd Edition", (A book on
Firewalls: something off the redhat site, or "Linux Firewalls Attach
Detection and Response with Iptable, psad, and fwsnort"). Also, there's
a lot of info in news groups.

2. Developers

They like working with Java, C++,C, PHP, Qt and SQL. Plus some Perl,
Bash, awk, and sed. They read books like "Design Patterns", Algorithms
in C++ (or Java), "Effective C++ Programming", "C++ Primer 4th
Edition", "Effective C++: 55 ways to improve your program and designs,
Third Edition", "Head First Java, 2nd Edition", "Head First
Object-Oriented Analysis and Design", subscribe to Dr. Dobb's. You
don't see many vi users - it's mostly emacs and a lot Eclipse. These
guys sometimes have advanced degrees in computer science or math. I'd
include advanced web designers and DBA's in this group too. Typically
these people work with Microsoft Databases and Oracle. The good ones
read a lot, and experiment. 

3. Enthusiast 

These people come from 1 or 2 above. They build their own creations,
like custom builds on soekris (www.soekris.com) boxes. Often they will
compile their own kernel from source, trying out the new features like
CONFIG_ROOT_NFS etc. Typically, they will look over processor data
books and add new modules to push the capability of their creation.
These people read everything. They'll have a hand in "Advanced
Programming in the UNIX Environment", "Unix Network programming (vol I
and II)", "Essential Linux Device Drivers". Beyond their favorite
distro, they'll typically leverage Busybox.  They freely cross the the
two camps (Developer and System Administration). If their project
requires System Admin work, they fall into that role. Once they have the
hardware built, they typically write application software on top it it
-- sometimes in several programming languages to see what language
works the best on the particular project. They are always reading,
learning, building, taking apart, and finding out how things work.

Well, that's my take, with probably a lot of books missing. 


Mike Chirico
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