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:
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
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.
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