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Updated by Moe Long on January 8th 2017

So you have heard of all the advantages and geeky babble about how Linux is better and you have finally decided to try it? Just one thing, you don’t know an awful lot about Linux to get you started. If you’ve already checked out our guide to Linux and still need more, how about some free eBooks to teach yourself Linux, that you can download today? Would that help?

Free, you ask? Yes, free. Welcome to the world of Linux where things are free both as in free speech and also as in free beer (mostly)!

If you are starting out on your journey towards Linux awesomeness, here are a few free downloadable eBooks to teach yourself Linux that should help you along nicely:

Getting Started Guide to Linux

MakeUseOf’s very own Newbie’s Guide to Linux tells you how to choose a distribution and then teaches you how to perform a basic Linux install. You can then use the guide to familiarize yourself with the Linux desktop and some basic commands.

Stefan did a great job in keeping it simple and to the point, the way beginners want it. Also don’t forget to check out our other MakeUseOf Manuals.

Introduction to Linux — A Hands on Guide

Takes you from the absolute basics to basics. This hands on guide tells you everything right from logging in, basic file management, backup techniques up to basics of networking. It is what you need if you are having difficulty figuring out how to get to that resume file you saved just now. The guide explains Linux file structure and introduces to basic commands and text editors as well.

GNU/Linux Command Line Tools Summary

One important aspect of working in Linux is that you have to familiar with the command line. This book shows you how to use the command line in Linux to your advantage. Apart from the ins and outs of the shell, this book also introduces various commands and the situations where you would use them. There are chapters that deal with specific tasks and list various commands you can use to achieve the task. If you can study online, there is another excellent manual you can refer to.

Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference

Ubuntu is one of the most popular distributions, new users look up to when trying out Linux. If it is Ubuntu specific information that you are after then you should definitely check out Ubuntu Pocket Guide and Reference. The guide takes you from installing and configuring Ubuntu to adding and managing software and securing your system. A must read book if you use Ubuntu.

Rute User’s Tutorial and Exposition

This one is not for the faint hearted! There is enough Linux juice in this book to keep even the intermediate to advanced users interested. The book begins humbly by presenting the basic commands and tools, however before you know it, you are learning everything from regular expressions to shell scripting to C programming to networking.

User Mode Linux

user-mode-linux

One of the benefits of running Linux is its extreme functionality for power users. User Mode Linux gives an overview of technical Linux topics. The 332 page eBook explores User Mode Linux (UML) from what it is to networking and filesystem management. While a pretty technical read, User Mode Linux manages to remain readable and engaging. Notably, the “What is UML” section features a superb, easy to understand breakdown of UML. Great diagrams peppered throughout show concepts visually, like a picture of UML as a kernel and process. There’s even an output of UML on first boot.

Linux Succinctly

linux-succinctly

Are you new to Linux? Then download Jason Cannon’s 94 page ebook Linux Succinctly. Offering stellar overview of Linux, Cannon begins with the basics: what is Linux? His free eBook proceeds to cover distributions, and then branches into the main components. Namely, Linux Succinctly covers directories, the command line, directory structure, permissions, and more. There’s a very logical structure that starts with basic concepts and provides specific examples. However these refrain from becoming overwhelming. For instance, there’s a snippet of the average command line with a line by line breakdown.

Overall, Linux Succinctly summarizes the Linux ecosystem comprehensively, effectively, and in less than 100 pages. It’s an excellent read for beginners and intermediate users.

Java Application Development on Linux

Java stands as one of the most popular programming languages. Thus, it’s really no surprise that Java Application Development on Linux clocks in at a whopping 599 pages. If you have a question on Java development on Linux, chances are this is the book for you. There’s a neat section on language elements like scalar and object types, as well as making and understanding Java APIs.

Later on, the book looks at using Linux features to create Java SDKs. One of the best sections is Part II on business logic. This reviews such tactics as developing software, what makes good software, and budget applications.

Linux Network Administrator’s Guide

linux-network-admin-guide

O’Reilly makes some fabulous books. Terry Dawson and Olaf Kirch’s Linux Network Administrator’s Guide, 2nd Edition is a must read for any Linux admin. System administrators usually adore Linux, whether by choice or Stockholm Syndrome. So it’s fitting that there’s an O’Reilly book covering this vast expanse. This free eBook starts at the beginning with, you guessed it, networking.

It’s a hefty 506 pages which allots plenty of technical detail. With coverage of TCP and IP networking and configuring serial hardware to getting exim running, Linux Network Administrator’s Guide is a great read for Linux admins.

Linux Shell Scripting Cookbook

linux-shell-scripting-cookbook

Linux boasts the uber-powerful command line. Shell scripting is a main draw of adopting the Linux ecosystem. Linux Shell Scripting Cookbook dives into shell. Sure, there are gorgeous graphical user interfaces (GUI) like Gnome and KDE, but shell scripts persist in delivering the ultimate in functionality. This excellent free eBook begins with the basics such as understanding Bash conceptually. It’s loaded with examples which you can event try out, and touches on cryptographic hashing commands and parallel commands.

Plus, Linux Shell Scripting Cookbook may feature the best chapter titles of any book on this list. With witty titles like “Shell Something Out” and “Have a Good Command,” it’s both informative and entertaining. A winning combo indeed. There’s even a dedicated section for administrators that system admins will appreciate.

Free for All

While most Linux ebooks are pretty technical, Free for All takes a different approach. Subtitled How Linux and the Free Software Movement Undercut the High-Tech Titans, Peter Wayner’s book probes the history of the open-source space. Wayner explores how Linux and open-source software rose to prominence, even rivaling paid software such as Microsoft outputs. Free for All reads almost like a novel, telling a complete narrative from start to finish.

This is a fantastic read for Linux buffs, but because it’s not as tech-heavy, there’s plenty of appeal to non-techies too. History buffs will likely appreciate Wayner’s riveting read. But don’t worry, Free for All is far from watered down. Rather, it’s replete with chapters discussing the likes of WINE, and even memoirs of software development. In a fun recollection, Wayners chronicles his foray into development with a program that turned secret messages into benign sentences. “The program enabled information to mutate into other forms, just like the shapeshifting monsters from The X-Files” he writes. With a good bit of humor, personal anecdotes, and detailed research, Free for All is one of the best books on the open-source community available. Bonus points for being free.

There is plenty of great material out there if you are trying to learn Linux, similar to these downloadable eBooks to teach yourself everything you ever wanted to know about Linux. If you have read a book or a tutorial that you found particularly useful, feel free to tell us about it in the comments below.

Image Credit: Peter Bernik via Shutterstock.com

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  1. kanth
    October 28, 2016 at 12:04 pm

    Hi varun,
    I am begineer in linux I want to practice it's in windows. which linux is good to install in my pc
    plz mention link also

  2. Oscar J
    December 22, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    These books are great, but I think you have missed some of the best. For example Linux Bible. I have put together my own list of Linux books as well. You can find it here:
    http://www.bestbooksprogramming.com/best-linux-books/
    Great post, thx :)

  3. Admin@OneLinux.org
    February 7, 2010 at 7:24 am

    Thanks for the informative, yet free eBooks! These are great for beginners to even experienced users. I recommend everyone taking a peak at these.

  4. danny0085
    January 11, 2010 at 4:07 am

    Try this new books http://tips-linux.net/en/books

  5. Dhiraj Saini
    August 20, 2009 at 9:23 am

    This is good

  6. Chris Chinchilla
    August 12, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Great post, putting a link up on my blog :-)

  7. jraz
    August 10, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Thanks for sharing those are pretty cool.

  8. ap9ofj294e
    August 9, 2009 at 1:08 am

    bloggers are the white trash of the net. You are a bloated piece of shit.

  9. Linux Dude
    August 7, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Thanks for the wonderful list.

    Another great free eBook: LINUX 101 HACKS

  10. Arjun Pakrashi
    August 6, 2009 at 6:04 am

    Good for beginning

  11. Chad
    August 5, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    This one is easily my favorite for the basics

    http://unixmages.com/

  12. Van
    August 4, 2009 at 4:38 am

    Thank for sharing!

  13. pedro
    August 4, 2009 at 4:16 am

    Excellent. We will need this type of information to advance in our learning process.

  14. exn
    August 2, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Thank you MrSelf for mirroring of ebook !

  15. robb
    August 2, 2009 at 12:36 pm

    newbie's book is a must read.
    i've read that one.
    thx for sharing.

  16. Jeff
    August 1, 2009 at 11:20 pm

    Good article, but please, Varun, don't abuse the question mark! It's painful to read statements that end with a question mark but aren't questions. Are you asking a question? Ask it then! Don't be coy or clever with the intent of your statement. Good grammar should be the standard, not the exception!

    Your article is a wonderful map for the Linux noob. Good job!

  17. MrSelf
    August 1, 2009 at 10:52 pm

    Thank you Varun!

    If anybody is having trouble with the download link for "LINUX: Rute User's Tutorial and Exposition",

  18. MrSelf
    August 1, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    The download link for "LINUX: Rute User's Tutorial and Exposition" did not work for me. But I found this one.
    http://wireless.ictp.it/school_2003/docs/linux/rute.pdf

    Thank you soo much for recommending these books. Perfect timing for me.

  19. adrian
    August 1, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Thanks, these should be useful since I just installed Ubuntu!