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Book review: Linux Made Easy—the Official Guide to Xandros 3 for Everyday Users by Rickford Grant


Recently, a guy I know told me he had spoken to a friend of his about the possibility of installing GNU/Linux. “Hah!" Snorted his friend. “You? And GNU/Linux? Get real. That’s for hardcore geeks. You wouldn’t last." And thus began the battle of spreading the free software word: trying to make my friend understand that GNU/Linux can ACTUALLY work for non-geeks and that making the switch won’t require him to suddenly understand jokes about binary. But, I knew all my friend really needed was a book like Linux Made Easy by Rickford Grant.

The book’s cover The book’s cover

If you’re feeling a little bit brave and want to get into GNU/Linux without turning your life upside down, or if you have Xandros and feel like you could get more of a handle on it, this book’s for you. In fact, this is something Rickford Grant is quite emphatic about—you DON’T have to be a big geek to dig GNU/Linux.

For further info on Grant, you can visit his site, which contains his book titles and other useful information. Linux Made Easy is published by the wonderful people at No Starch Press.

This is something Rickford Grant is quite emphatic about—you DON’T have to be a big geek to dig GNU/Linux

The contents

The book is non-threatening, and Grant puts you at ease using simple non-geek-speak and walking you carefully through how to do the sorts of things non-geeks enjoy—aka functional computer use.

Linux Made Easy is divided into five parts. Part one cheerfully welcomes you into the GNU/Linux fold and answers all of your nervous questions about this new adventure you are embarking on. You are then babystepped through the installation process, and given all the information required to make a smooth transition. Part two gives you invaluable information, like how to get online, how to navigate the system, how to deal with your various storage media, how to set up users, how to network, and how to make your system look pretty. This part’s great because aesthetics and confidence to navigate make you really feel like it’s YOUR system. Part three talks about printers, scanners, cameras, and PDAs—making everything work happily together like a well oiled machine. Part four is the fun bit—applications for dealing with audio, movies and other forms of media that non-geeks get computers for. Grant really helps you in these chapters, and gives you the confidence to say “sure, I’ll just play that CD" without any embarrassment or frustration. Part five is for the brave. It tells you that while you never have to see a command line in your life, even with GNU/Linux, some people like that stuff. So part five is for them. Have a go!

Who’s this book for?

This is not a geek book. This is for people, like my friend, who are curious about GNU/Linux and want to be sold on how easy it can be. You can dual boot people! What could be better for experimentation? If you have GNU/Linux and you are a bit overwhelmed, this is also a good book for regaining perspective and composure.

Relevance to free software

You don’t get much more free software focused than in a book about GNU/Linux.


It’s a comforting and super helpful read, and is a real confidence builder. And, it contains the Xandros distro!


Already a confident GNU/Linux user? Or a geek? Or totally set on another distro other than Xandros? Then maybe this is not for you.

Title Linux Made Easy: the Official Guide to Xandros 3 for Everyday Users
Author Rickford Grant
Publisher No Starch Press
ISBN 1593270577
Year 2005
Pages 461
CD included Yes
FS Oriented 10
Over all score 8

In short



charlemax's picture
Submitted by charlemax on

I installed Xandros on my old Compac computer, without any previous knowlege of Linux whatever. I am not a
trained computer professional --- no programmer, repair tech, IT administrator. Xan saw all my hardware,
configured it without a hitch, and less than half an hour after I popped the cd in the drive, I was cruising
the internet. I gave a presentation on this for a class I was taking and no one believed me! If I hear the
"Linux is not ready for prime time" cliche one more time, I think I may have convulsions. Linux is evolving so
fast that almost anything we say about it today, will be wrong by next week.

Pennyfarthing 6's picture

Linux is evolving so fast

I couldn't agree more.... I tried SEVERAL live cds as close as last summer, and most wouldn't even see an ethernet plug....

This last week I've tried 12 live cds...and 9 saw.... wireless!

Linux is rompin on!


Author information

Bridget Kulakauskas's picture


Bridget has a degree in Sociology and English and a keen interest in the social implications of technology. She has two websites: Illiterarty and The Top 10 Everything. She also handles accounts and administration for Free Software Magazine.