Ubuntu made ... fun! (Book Review: Ubuntu Made Easy)

Q: Why don´t you see penguins in Britain?

A: Because they´re afraid of Wales

But, if you did, they'd probably be reading this fun new book -- Ubuntu Made Easy: A Project-Based Introduction to Linux, no starch press, 2012 is the most easy-to-read, properly pitched and fun Linux book that I've ever read.

The first thing that's likely to grab your attention about this book is the witty way the authors have titled their chapters. From "Becoming a Penguinista" to "Wounded Wings", you are constantly reminded that this is not just a book about Linux, specifically Ubuntu, but this is a *fun* book about Linux. Your eyes are then likely to settle on the subtitle "a project-based introduction to Linux", suggesting that you're going to be led through this introduction to Linux with an eye toward getting specific things accomplished. That's like the difference between learning solid geometry on paper and learning it when you're building a house and have to make sure that the various lengths of timber are going to fit together and the walls will turn out square -- OK, rectangular!

Whether or not you appreciate the humorous references throughout the text or the die hard devotion of the authors to all things penguin, you are bound to appreciate the focus on how to get things done. In stark contrast to "learn these twelve ever so important Linux commands", learn how to ... connect to the Internet, install new software, set up a printer or scanner, making your system more secure or finding a support community is right on target for those of us who are coming to Linux with a work-focussed mind set.

The twenty-two chapters in the book go from introducing Linux to fixing problems.

Chapter 1: Becoming a Penguinista - Welcome to the World of Linux
Chapter 2: Wading and Diving - Running and (If You Like) Installing Ubuntu
Chapter 3: A New Place to Call Home - Getting to Know the Desktop
Chapter 4: More than Webbed Feet - Connecting to the Internet
Chapter 5: Slipping and Sliding - Exploring the Internet, Linux Style
Chapter 6: Rounding Out the Bird - Downloading, Installing, and Updating Programs the Easy Way
Chapter 7: A Tidy Nest - File and Disk Handling in Ubuntu
Chapter 8: Simple Kitten Ways - Getting to Know the Linux Terminal and Command Line
Chapter 9: Dressing Up the Bird - Customizing the Look and Feel of Your System
Chapter 10: Gutenbird - Setting Up and Using Your Printer and Scanner
Chapter 11: Polyglot Penguins - Linux Speaks Your Language
Chapter 12: Penguins at Work - Getting Down to Business in Linux
Chapter 13: Right-Brain Penguins - Linux Does Art
Chapter 14: Tux Rocks - Music a la Linux
Chapter 15: Pluggin' in the Penguin - Ubuntu and Your iPod, iPhone, and Other Digital Media Devices
Chapter 16: Couch Penguins - Video and DVD Playback in Ubuntu
Chapter 17: Feathered Flippers - Linux Gaming
Chapter 18: Sweet Home Antarctica - Linux Around the House
Chapter 19: Penguins at the Gates - Working with Ubuntu in a Windows World
Chapter 20: Defending the Nest - Security
Chapter 21: A Colony of Penguins - The Ubuntu Community
Chapter 22: Wounded Wings - Fixing Common Problems

Appendix A: Installing Ubuntu from a USB Flash Drive
Appendix B: Ubuntu Desktop CDs for AMD64 Users
Appendix C: Manually Partitioning Your Hard Disk
Appendix D: Resources

The book is geared toward new Linux users, but covers more advanced material in a straightforward, fun way that makes the book useful for Linux users who want to fill in gaps in what they know how to do. They might just start eight or nine chapters into the book or read chapters in a random or "as needed" order. The book is well written with just enough detail to get you up to speed on any of the topics. Maybe you'll start with the ins and outs of printing and scanning (Chapter 10) or maybe you want to use Ubuntu to update your MP3 player, cell phone or iPad -- topics you're not likely to find in a traditional introduction to Linux (Chapter 15). There's a lot of great material in this book to help you get more done with your Linux system -- even if you're already a Linux devotee.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is starting out with Ubuntu (whether new to Linux or not) or anyone looking to get a lot more value out of his/her Ubuntu system. It's well written, easy to understand and thoroughly fun to read. In fact, I found myself imagining the authors sitting next to me, showing me how to get things done and making their little snide comments about how much better Linux is than Windows. This is a super book!

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