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Title LINUX COOKBOOK

Author Carla Schroder


Publisher O’Reilly
Pages 553
ISBN 0-596-00640-3

Book Format:
I loved the “Cookbook” format! I read the book through, like a normal book, but it is
setup for you to find the information you want as a reference. The twelve page table of
contents will help you get within a page of your topic instantly. Care was taken to
include different distribution types for each subject.

Chapter / Scope Overview:


With an average of over 15 topics in each of 24 chapters, reviewing this book could be as
large as the book. Listed below are items that I felt were keys to each of these chapters.
1. Finding Documentation
Not only reading and printing man pages is covered. Finding lost man pages,
setting your manpath, and re-building the man page database is covered as well.
2. Installing and Managing Software on RPM-Based Systems
Managing RPMs, Installing source based software, Re-building the RPM database
are key topics covered.
3. Installing and Managing Software on Debian-Based Systems
Apt-get was covered, as were how and where to configure alternate distribution
locations, utilizing a CD for packages, and building a local repository. Installing
from source was also covered.
4. Installing Programs from Source Code
Utilizing Find, Grep, and Diff to generate program installation file changes.
Creating your own packages with checkinstall
5. Discovering Hardware from Outside the Box
Hardware Compatibility Lists (HCL). Using tools like lspci, dmesg, and fdisk to
examine your system, as well as examining the /proc folder itself.
6. Editing Text Files with JOE and Vim
Emacs is mostly ignored because if its complexity and size. JOE and Vim are
introduces as replacements that are simple and small.
7. Starting and stopping Linux
Text and Graphical logins, as well as starting and stopping X are covered.
Managing Runlevels, and stopping and starting services are explained thoroughly.
Running shutdown, reboot, or cron’ing these task were also covered.
8. Managing Users and Groups
Users, Groups, Passwords, System users, su, and sudo are covered here. Disk
quota’s are also include din this chapter.
9. Managing Files and Partitions
Default Linux directory structure, and File attributes are explained. The
journaling aspects of Ext3, ReiserFS, JFS, and XFS and the purpose of these
formats were covered. Configuring mount points, mounting, and un-mounting
media were also covered. Simple file creation, copying, moving, and removal
were also covered.
10. Patching, Customizing, and Upgrading Kernels
In addition to kernel information, initrd ram disk creation and Boot disk creation
are covered.
11. CD and DVD Recording
K3b is touted as a great graphical recording tool. To understand it better, Carla
explains the command line tools that are used and what they do. You learn how
to create and use images while you explore the gotchas of working with CD and
DVD media.
12. Managing the Bootloader and Multi-Booting
Lilo and Grub are explained. Multi-boot setup configuration steps are outlined, as
well as knoppix grub recovery.
13. System Rescue and Recovery with Knoppix
Knoppix will allow you to utilize a boot CD, optionally setting a configuration or
home folder to writable memory stick or hard drive. Admins or users can utilize
this to copy file data to another machine through an ssh tunnel. Samba shares can
also be utilized. While in Knoppix, you can install and run the f-prot antivirus
tools, scanning a windows computer for viruses.
14. Printing with CUPS
Print services are explained for local, networked Linux and Windows clients.
15. Configuring Video and Managing X Windows
Over 20 pages is dedicated to explaining X. I particularly appreciated the section
on creating a multi-headed system. The process of isolating or identifying video
cards is straight forward.
16. Backup and Recovery
Topics covered include: Rsync, Rsync server using it as a Daemon, Rsync over
ssh, Rsync from a windows client with a message of the day, and Bootable rescue
disks based on Mondo.
17. Remote Access
Topics include: DON’T USE TELNET! How to setup OpenSSH, Generating
Host Keys, Authentication Via Public Keys, Utilizing multiple Key Pairs,
Passwordless login with ssh-agent, Extending the agent with keychain, Tunneling
X over SSH, and then connecting to a Windows PC.
18. Version Control
Managing version control is explained through two different projects. First, the
Revision Control System (RCS) project is explained, and then the Concurrent
Versions System (CVS) project is documented.
19. Keeping Time with NTP
Using NTP and ntpdate to setup a time server for local time synchronization.
20. Building a Postfix Mail Server
The first section of this chapter laid out the terms that are typically run into when
dealing with a mail server. Then, Building and Testing a pop3 server were next.
Sending and receiving internet mail follows. Next authentication issues: Cyrus-
SASL for SMTP, SMTP-Auth to authenticate users and authenticate Postfix to
another server. Other topics include: Configuring a fully qualified domain name,
Building an IMAP mail server, Connecting users to IMAP, Sharing IMAP folders,
Virtual mailbox domains, Using couriermlm for a mail list, and Web access to
email.
21. Managing Spam and Malware
Controlling Unsolicited Bulk Email (UBE). Basic controls, Whitelists, Blacklists,
Clam-AV, rejecting attachments, and spamassassin.
22. Running the Apache Web Server
Typical webserver setup is included plus: Hosting Multiple Domains, Blocking
good web crawlers, Blocking Obnoxious visitors, Producing a multi lingual site
23. File and Printer Sharing, and Domain Authentication with Samba
If for nothing else, you will want this book for the 40 pages found in chapter 23.
With this material, you will be able to setup Linux as a simple windows fileshare,
in a workgroup, or as a server. You can create a domain for your Windows XP
clients to connect to. You can keep windows and Linux passwords synchronized.
Linux printers are shared with samba. The chapter ends with using Crossover to
run windows applications on Linux.
24. Managing Name Resolution
Topics include: Setting up host files, DHCP servers, Add static hosts to DHCP,
Public DNS servers, Installing djbdns, Running a local Caching Name Server,
Using Tinydns server, Load balancing and syncronizing Tinydns server, and
doing these exact same things using BIND.

I could have used the word “Manage” before each of the above topics. The author
attempts to cover all the angles that the typical manager would have to approach each
topic. No, I’m serious, in the text editing section Carla even suggests a typing tutor!

Material Overview:
Looking at the scope above, you will realize that Carla doesn’t really leave any holes in
her OS documentation! Some items were thoroughly covered. Users and Groups
consumes about 30 pages, as does the chapter on Files and Partitions, while tunneling X
over open-ssh, or remote access from a windows box is limited to a page. Carla pretty
well says “This is how you do it!” and moves on to the next topic. In her defense, if you
want to read all about a command, she thoroughly covers how to read the documentation
in the first chapter. Carla has made an effort to remain pertinent to what we as
administrators are going through. In the grub documentation we find how to do anything
we want, as long as we have a boot floppy. Carla notes that this is no longer a given. So
she shows how to install and utilize grub from a knoppix CD.

Conclusion:
I would recommend not only reading this book, but also keeping this book handy, for a
quick reference or overview. If nothing more, it will help you sort through the
comprehensive and distributed documentation that is available for your installations.

Reviewed by:
Denton Yoder
Computer Systems Engineer
Biological Systems Engineering
Virginia Tech