Book review: Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks by <i>Rickford Grant</i>

Sometimes I wonder what separates the geeks from the non-geeks. I’ve always assumed I fell into the geek category based on my job and the hours spent with computers on my own time. But, after reading Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks, I must not be much of a geek because I found this book to be quite interesting!

The author, Rickford Grant, writes in a very engaging style. He knows his audience well and can keep them interested through each chapter. He has also written Linux for Non-Geeks and Linux Made Easy. He describes this book as “an introductory guide that will provide new users with some hands-on experience”. As a new Ubuntu user myself, I can say that I learned a few new things.

The book’s cover

Knowing that this book was coming, I installed Ubuntu on my desktop machine. I’ve run many different distributions of Linux in the past and now consider myself sold on Ubuntu. The install process ran smooth as silk, adding a printer was almost embarrassingly easy and updating software borders on simple. So why would you need this book? Well, if you are already a geek, it will help show your friends the simple fact you already know—Linux is ready for them. By getting them started with this book, you will provide them with knowledge. Once they have knowledge, realizing that Linux can work for them doesn’t require a leap of faith anymore. Most every question I’ve fended from curious friends, who want something better than they have now, is covered. How do I get online? How do I change my desktop? How can I write letters, send email, listen to music, watch DVD’s, install new software? Perhaps you have tried to answer these questions for others as well. Nothing reassures a nervous user like seeing the answers in print. This book has the answers. Oh, and if you’re not already a geek, did I mention that this book has the answers?

This is a book I’ll be recommending to friends

The contents

The answers all come packaged inside of 360 friendly, well written pages. No Starch Press also uses the very helpful RepKover that allows the book to lay flat. No small feature in a book designed to be by your side when working on the computer. The book is just smaller than your typical $0.99 composition notebook. Inside the book you will find chapters covering: how to run the Live CD (included), customizing the desktop, installing programs, getting down to business, connecting a printer, camera and iPod. There is also a nice section on security.

Something I love to find in a technical book is the proper use of screen captures. Nothing is as reassuring as seeing the item being discussed. And since this book is designed to put new users at ease, I really feel that the pictures helped accomplish this goal.

Who’s this book for?

The author is quite comfortable with his target audience—non geeks. It is written in a friendly style that non technical folks will find easy to read. But even if you are considered by friends and family to be “a geek”, don’t overlook this book. As the geek, you will be called on to answer questions for those same friends and family members you switch over to Ubuntu. This book not only shows you the answers, but demonstrates a great way to explain the answers. Or take a short cut and simply buy the book for them! It all depends on how much free time you have available.

Relevance to free software

Ubuntu is currently the hot thing going. It sits at the top spot on DistroWatch by a fairly comfortable margin. It is the only community that I know who will send you physical CD’s on their dime, though there may be others. But this book will be the turning point for many folks looking to make a switch. It gives them a very specific “user manual” for getting things done. When someone asks about support for Linux, or asks where they can turn to for answers, you can point them to this book.

“A pain-free, project-based, get-things-done guidebook”


This book shows you the solutions to problems. It does it in a very helpful, easy to understand, style. By including the CD with the book, non technical folks don’t even have to worry about that little detail. Together they make quite a complete package.


There are so many features and topics of interest available, it would be impossible to cover them all in one book. But if you are new to Ubuntu, this will be a great book to get you started and guide you along.

Title Ubuntu Linux for Non-Geeks
Author Rickford Grant
Publisher No Starch Press
ISBN 1593271182
Year 2006
Pages 360
CD included Yes
FS Oriented 10
Over all score 10

In short


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