Book review: Running Linux, 5th Ed. <i>by Matthias Kalle Dalheimer & Matt Welsh</i>

Running Linux begins with the subtitle “A distribution-neutral guide for servers and desktops”. This subtitle manages to capture the essence of the book extremely well, containing extensive information for both a desktop and server environment within its 972 pages.

The book’s cover

My first impression of this book is that it is very well-rounded. Since this text takes on the burden of such a large scope with desktop and server usage, it would need to cover a little bit of everything, and leave you with URLs and sources to check up for deeper information. It provides exactly that, along with some nice background information on the subject at hand.

_Running Linux_ is a good resource for experienced admins as well as new users

The contents

As mentioned previously, this 972-page book contains a little information about everything. It is divided into four parts, including desktop usage, system administration, programming, and networking. In the desktop usage section, topics include the KDE and Gnome desktop environments, web browsers, email clients, games, office suites, as well as audio, video, and image editing and playing applications. For good measure, there is a nice topic dedicated to finding your way around the command-line. The system administration section covers topics like networking, printing, file sharing, installing applications, editing documents, building a new kernel, and text processing. Under the programming section, you will find a section on writing applications and scripts, and other topics like running web, email and FTP servers. The final section about networking covers servers such as MySQL/PHP applications, security, backup/recovery, and working in multi-OS environments.

I was quite impressed with the amount of space given to OpenOffice. In all, 46 pages detail usage of the suite of applications, including Writer, Calc, and Impress.

As this book is billed as a distribution-neutral guide, there is a lot of command-line reference information that will work well with any GNU/Linux distribution. Some examples of this include archiving and compression, network diagnostic utilities, and many more.

Who’s this book for?

This book is an excellent reference for new GNU/Linux users who would like to know more about the inner-workings of their GNU/Linux system. Not only does the text list URL addresses inline, but it also includes an appendix of URLs to various places on the web to get more information about all things GNU/Linux, from Slashdot to distributions.

More experienced GNU/Linux users and administrators will find other areas of the book useful, such as the networking and programming sections. They give a nice overview and some configuration information for common server applications.

Relevance to free software

Running Linux contains information almost exclusively regarding free software. In fact, the only mention of proprietary software is at the very end of the book when discussing WINE (WINE Is Not an Emulator), Microsoft Windows Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) connections, and lastly a small topic of VMWare Workstation. However, space was given to free software alternatives, including Bochs, plex86, FreeNX, and VNC.


You should buy this book because it contains a wealth of information spread out over a large amount of topics. It is a handy reference for more experienced administrators who handle multiple server technologies, and a great getting started book for newer users. It also includes a lot of command-line examples.


This book covers a lot of different topics, but is not comprehensive by any means. Users or administrators looking for more advanced topics (such as configuring Apache for SSL) will not find what they are looking for in this book.

Title Running Linux, 5th Ed.
Author Matthias Kalle Dalheimer & Matt Welsh
Publisher O’Reilly Media, Inc
ISBN 0596007604
Year 2005
Pages 972
CD included No
FS Oriented 9
Over all score 8

In short


This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.