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The LWN book review page

Welcome to LWN's book review page. We intend to build this page into a comprehensive overview of the books available on Linux and open source topics. Note that this page is no longer maintained. LWN still does book reviews on occasion; see the LWN archives for an index to all LWN content.

Books reviewed by LWN

[The New XFree86 Book cover]

The New XFree86

Bill Ball
Prima Tech, 2001
Reviewed June 18, 2001

Executive summary: While comprehensive in product and programs, this text leaves much to be researched by the individual. The meat of XFree86 is in the libraries and X server and this text simply doesn't go into detail for either of these. Ball's book gets a moderate recommendation for those interested in what XFree86 contains or a list of X applications, but it is not recommended if the reader is looking for any sort of meaningful detail.

[Book cover]

Secrets & Lies

Bruce Schneier
Wiley, 2000
Reviewed November 15, 2000

Executive summary: This book, in which Bruce Schneier paints a dark picture on the future of digital security, should be required reading for anybody with an interest in security issues. Mr. Schneier convincingly demonstrates that technical, preventive measures will never be able, on their own, to adequately secure digital systems. A much more comprehensive approach, which includes strong detection and response, is required. With relatively low technical content, lots of case studies and occasional humor, the book is a quick and interesting read.

[Book cover]

The Book of Linux Music & Sound

Dave Phillips
Linux Journal Press / No Starch Press, 2000
Reviewed September 25, 2000 by Jonathan Corbet

Executive summary: Linux audio has long lacked for useful documentation; this book nicely fills in part of that void. As a guide for clueful musicians and a general overview of the depth and variety of Linux audio software it is great; it will prove a little less helpful for beginners trying to figure out how to do simple things.

[Thinking in Java cover]

Thinking in Java, first edition

Bruce Eckel
Prentice Hall, 1998
Reviewed April 22, 2000 by Jeff Berry, nexus@avigne.org.

Executive summary:a pretty good introduction to Object Oriented concepts and a good course in Java specifics. Works well as a learning tool, less well as a reference. Comes with web-support. This book is also available for download online.

[Linux Firewalls] [Building...]

Two Linux firewalling books

In this (February 28, 2000) review we look at Linux Firewalls by Robert L. Ziegler (New Riders, 2000) and Building Linux and OpenBSD Firewalls by Wes Sonnenreich and Tom Yates (Wiley, 2000).

Executive summary: Linux Firewalls is marred by typos, technical mistakes, and an overly detailed approach; it is hard to recommend. Building Linux and OpenBSD Firewalls is, while not perfect, a much better guide to using Linux to secure your network, and an amusing read as well.

[DocBook cover]

DocBook: The Definitive Guide

Norman Walsh and Leonard Muellner
O'Reilly, 1999
Reviewed February 16, 2000

Executive Summary: this book, available under an open content license, is an excellent reference for the DocBook DTD. DocBook beginners, on the other hand, will find it rough going; this book is not a gentle introduction.

[Linux Core Kernel Commentary cover]

Linux Core Kernel Commentary

Scott Maxwell, Coriolis, 1999
Reviewed November 29, 1999

Executive Summary: an interesting look at the Linux kernel's core functionality, somewhat marred by a an organization that makes it difficult to use. Nonetheless, it will probably become a required item for those wanting to dig into the Linux kernel.

[Python Essential Reference cover]

Python Essential Reference

David M. Beazley, New Riders, 1999
Reviewed November 8, 1999

Executive Summary: a well-written and concise reference work which fills a gaping void in the world of Python documentation; Python hackers will likely be pleased by this book.

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