Good linux books & distros

Matthew Hawkins matt at
Tue Dec 3 23:12:21 EST 2002

L u k e H a m i l t o n (luke.hamilton at wrote:
> I am looking into setting up my own linux server at home these holidays,
> and was just wondering what distributions ppl on the list recommended
> and why?

Debian, it's technically superior and not driven by profit margins
unlike some other distributions.  They have a whole bunch of policy type
documentation which is a requirement for debian maintainers to follow,
which dictate things from high-level goals of the project to low-level
quality assurance of packages.  It is also a truly free software
project, not a company after a quick buck, and has hundreds, perhaps
thousands of developers actively working on it.
I'd also look at Gentoo which, although being fairly new, has done a few
neat things wrt. user interface and administration, and has taken the
bold step of implementing the FreeBSD ports system for non-system
applications.  It's kinda like apt-get with a few extra benefits.

If you're looking at dedicating lots of time and learning as much as you
can about Linux, go with Slackware.  Since you have to do pretty much
everything yourself, it makes a great learning tool.  Remember that this
isn't a final choice, you can always switch distributions at any time.
You might start by jumping in the deep end with Slackware, and once you
get frustrated by some of its annoying quirks, change to something else
which addresses those problems.
The trouble with getting some mickey-mouse distribution first is that
you don't learn anything, or you learn a distribution-specific way of
doing something, and you become useless when taken out of that
situation.  Yes, it may be convenient to use rpmfind or apt-get or
whatever to install software, but that's no good when you need to get
said software running on Digital Unix (for example).

> I' am also look for some good linux books to aid/educate me. Would
> prefer books on specific subjects, such as:
> samba
> ssh
> sendmail
> squide
> firewalls
> ftp

Although there's all sorts of books on the topics, you're probably much
better off first reading the documentation that comes with these
programs, any other documentation on their web sites, relevent RFC's on
the protocols and such, and any relevent HOWTO's.  Also the Linux
Documentation Project has some pretty cool 'books' on various subjects.
I like the sysadmin one.

Oh, and of course don't forget this mailing list and CLUG meetings :-)

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