Ubuntu Hacks: Tips & tools for exploring, using and Tuning Linux By: Jonathon Oxer, Kyle Rankin & Bill Childers Published by O'Reilly
O'Reilly's Hacks series is renowned for being an informative and useful resource for beginners and experts a like. Ubuntu Hacks is one of these books, containing 100 tips and solutions to help new users and experienced ubuntu users a like. The book sheds light on some features of ubuntu that most users are not aware of, such as using a usb stick in conjuction with a live cd to store your personal desktop settings, programs and documents.
By : Andrew Walsh
It's worth noting that this book is aimed at Ubuntu Dapper and some examples may or may not work as expected with previous versions of ubuntu such as Breezy.
The book is split up into 10 chapters (listed below):
1 - Getting Started 2 - The Linux Desktop 3 - Multimedia 4 - Mobile Ubuntu 5 - X11 6 - Package Management 7 - Security 8 - Administration 9 - Virtualization and Emulation 10 - Small Office/Home office Server
My first impression of the book was that the first 14 hacks in this book were aimed at new users to ubuntu, be it from another distribution, windows or mac. Covering the basics such as installing ubuntu and moving files from windows to ubuntu. As a fairly experienced ubuntu users I found these hacks mostly useless, however hack #3 does redeem this chapter in my opinion.
Hack #3 shows how to use the live cd in conjunction with a usb pen or other removeable media to allow you to carry your desktop settings, documents and programs around with you.
The second chapter (The Linux Desktop) in my opinion is one of the better chapters in the book. It covers how to customise your desktop to your needs, including how to change KDE or GNOME for a "lighter" window manager such as Fluxbox of XFCE. I used hack #17 to change to XFCE from GNOME, (giving me a noticeable speed boost).
If you do not want to change your desktop environment then this chapter also demonstrates how to tweak and tune GNOME and KDE. Such as using icons on the default GNOME desktop, so that windows users can feel more at home. (the default on ubuntu is to not have any desktop icons such as computer and trash).
A hack that I found particularly useful is hack #29, this hack demonstrates how to install the set of win32codecs which allow you to play certain formats of music and video files using ubuntu. However this comes with the warning that in some places it is illegal to use these codecs, however the author does not list an example of where.
Finally I thought that I would touch upon chapter 7 (as the other chapters can be a little confusing for new ubuntu users). Chapter 7 is all focused around security, the chapter includes setting up a firewall for your network, encrypting your hard drive, digitally signing emails.
Hack #73 details how to prevent windows malware from existing on your ubuntu box (and possibly spreading to any machines which connect to the ubuntu box). Hack #73 was very useful to me, due to the fact that I have two windows machines which connect to a ubuntu gateway.
Overall I would say that this book is a great way to introduce users to ubuntu and the amazing feature list that ubuntu supports. I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to run ubuntu on a laptop, use a live-cd or a new ubuntu desktop user.
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