Ubuntu Made easy: A project-based introduction to Linux, published by No Starch Press, was written for the new Ubuntu user. The authors Rickford Grant and Phil Bull deliver on the titles promise with content that covers a comprehensive range of practical topics. This book rapidly describes practical recipes for the most common and a few less common home centric tasks. The authors push the new user with increasing velocity towards a detailed understanding of the Ubuntu Unity desktop. If you want to get started quickly with an unfamiliar Linux distribution, this book is a thoroughly detailed start point.
Richford Grant and Phil Bull's introduction to Ubuntu does what the back cover advertises by delivering a gentle, practical introduction to the Ubuntu desktop environment and its supporting software stack. The authors use small examples, the authors call projects, to help new users perform everyday tasks such as text working, manipulating photographs, playing music or games. You get to explore the full range of software. The book covers all the basics you would expect and counter balances them with more advanced topics such as installation, trouble shooting, handling a Window’s network and the Linux command line. With the attached CD at the end of the book, you have everything you need to start apart from a computer and power supply.
A gentle, practical introduction to the Ubuntu desktop environment
With 480 pages, 22 chapters and 4 appendices this book uniformly covers the most relevant topics for a new Ubuntu desktop user. The book rightfully focusses its efforts on the initial and second wave of needs. Installing and configuring and troubleshooting Ubuntu, Introducing the desktop in great detail, performing standard tasks such as writing documents, game playing, using scanners and printers, editing images or video.
Rickford Grant prior experience with writing the books Ubuntu for Non-Geeks and Linux Made Easy explains why the book is so thorough in its range of projects.
For those new to the Unity desktop the third chapter, which introduces the main features of unity the desktop environment, is a great starting point. I particularly liked the description of how to filter, called lenses, searches for content and programs on your system. You can install extra lenses for example for searching for recipes. The authors mention a wide range of immediately useful software including some of my all-time favorites such as freemind for mind maps and the digital drum kit hydrogen.
Who's this book for?
This book is useful for new Ubuntu users who wish to work efficiently. Even if you have used another Linux distribution, there is enough specific content to make Ubuntu made easy a worthy read.
Relevance to free software
Ubuntu made easy emphasis is on helping to work effectively with the desktop environment. Ubuntu the company has a clearly defined open source philosophy. The practical examples in the book mention a range of open source software. The comprehensive range of the software stack clearly advertises the viability of the open source stack. The chapter working with Ubuntu in a Windows world is necessary for the majority of the target audience. Please do not say this to anyone; however, I did notice the irony of placing the security chapter next to the windows chapter.
I did notice the irony of placing the security chapter next to the windows chapter
For the longer-term sustainability of open source projects, community support (your support) is vital. I therefore welcome the chapter describing how to interact with the wider Ubuntu community. I also applaud the fact that one of the authors Phil Bull has involved himself in the GNOME documentation project and according to the back cover of the book helped with the official Ubuntu documentation.
If you want an easy to understand, practical, comprehensive guide for new comers to the Ubuntu 12.04 desktop then this is your book. The large number of projects covers all the common tasks a desktop user needs to perform.
Although there is a lot of detailed content, if you are an expert looking for techno gratification then look elsewhere for content that is more specific.
Alan Berg Bsc. MSc. PGCE, has been a lead developer at the Central Computer Services at the University of Amsterdam since 1998. In his spare time, he writes articles, book reviews and has authored three books. He has a degree, two masters and a teaching qualification. In previous incarnations, he was a technical writer, an Internet/Linux course writer, and a science teacher. He likes to get his hands dirty with the building and gluing of systems. He remains agile by playing computer games with his sons who (sadly) consistently beat him physically, mentally and morally at least twice in any given day.