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Sobell Compiles Top-Notch Practical Linux Guide

Sobell Compiles Top-Notch Practical Linux Guide

As a non-programmer but Linux power user, I thoroughly enjoyed Sobell's dissertation on Linux and the integration of the Secure Hierarchical File System, the use of the Shell, and the X Window System. Anyone just venturing into the Land of Linux in the workplace can gain much insight about choosing an operating system after reading just the opening chapter.

By Jack M. Germain LinuxInsider ECT News Network
03/05/14 9:48 PM PT

A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux-7th Edition by Mark G. Sobell is a comprehensive guide to mastering the latest versions of Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. The book lists for US$59.99, while the watermark e-book in EPUB, MOBI and PDF formats lists for $47.99.

Not everyone who dabbles in the realm of the Linux OS needs all the enterprise-specific tutelage this guidebook offers. However, it certainly has chapters to enlighten even casual readers interested in learning really useful stuff about using Linux in general.

Sobell assembles in one spot his accumulated experience as a Linux expert and his keen insights about succeeding with two enterprise workhorse distributions in the workplace. His flare for explaining Linux makes it easier for professional Linux users to enhance their skills in installing, configuring and navigating Fedora 19 and RHEL 7 (beta).

This seventh edition updates Sobell's last release of this title in 2011. The Linux Links chart that precedes the detailed Table of Contents provides readers with a handy reference list of critical Linux resources that, if nothing else, saves several hours of researching.

Quick Start Advice

One of the handiest tools Sobell packages in his book is the collection of cheat sheets he calls "JumpStarts." They provide you with a set of steps to quickly use a client or set up a server. Then, after you've accomplished a particular task, you can refine its configuration using the information presented in the sections following each JumpStart.

Sobell lists the JumpStarts at the top of the table of contents for handy access. This enables you to almost instantly find what you need to move quickly along with your OS operation and setup. You can turn directly to the page, no matter how far into the book the information resides.

These JumpStart tutorials essentially walk you through every critical phase of using Linux in these specific distros. Sobell has JumpStarts for handling the Yum software package system; CUPS printing configuration and setup; and OpenSSH Secure Communication. He also treats strategies for downloading and uploading files using FTP and starting a vsftpd FTP Server; configuring sendmail on a Client; and configuring sendmail on a Server.

Included are JumpStarts for mounting a Remote Directory Hierarchy and configuring an NFS Server, as well as configuring Linux/Windows File Sharing using a Samba Server and setting up a DNS Cache and Domain. The quick tutorial sections conclude building a firewall using firewal-config and getting Apache up and running.

Linux Landscape

This Practical Guide presents an update to earlier editions of this title. It also focuses on the latest strategies involved with using the two features distros. Sobell does not dwell on a narrow focus of Fedora 19 and RHEL 7 from an IT professional's workplace reference. He broadens the view with useful information about the foundations of Linux as it grew from Unix practices.

Chapter One particularly proves this point. It begins with an overview of the history of Unix and GNU-Linux and the significance of using an operating system based on the concept of free code. The chapter covers how Linux becomes more than just a kernel system. It is the foundation of an entire genre of open source software and a successful approach to licensing free code.

As a non-programmer but Linux power user, I thoroughly enjoyed Sobell's dissertation on Linux and the integration of the Secure Hierarchical File System, the use of the Shell, and the X Window System. He makes a solid case for the need to know how to use Linux's many useful utilities and GUIs. Anyone just venturing into the Land of Linux in the workplace can gain much insight about choosing an operating system after reading just the opening chapter.

Chapters Two and Three offer a very effective overview of the processes involved in installing Fedora and RHEL. If you read no further than this first cluster of chapters, you will come away with a firm understanding of these two high-powered, professional-strength Linux enterprise OSes.

Novel Format

Sobell gives serious readers and IT pros more than an insider's guide to learning enterprise level Linux distros. He builds in full coverage of the LPI Linux Essentials exam objectives plus extensive coverage of the CompTIA Linux+ exam objectives. He includes as Appendix E a map from these objectives to the pages in the book where that knowledge plays out.

The author devotes one chapter each on setting up and using several typical servers/clients. If you work in an office environment that relies on Samba, NIS/LDAP, the new LDAP dynamic server, NFSv4, DNS/BIND, Apache (httpd), OpenSSH, FTP (vsftpd), sendmail and IPv6, this seventh edition will make your experience much better. This latest edition includes a new chapter that covers the new firewalld (firewall-config and firewall-cmd) as well as iptables (system-config-firewall).

The Seventh Edition is not a retread of earlier editions on Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Sobell adds new coverage of find, sort, xz (compression), free, xargs, and the nano editor. He also focuses on the specifics of the Fedora 19 release and RHELversion 7 (beta).

Two other areas of critical attention are unveiled in this latest edition. One is the expanded command-line coverage that includes a new chapter detailing 32 important utilities. The second is the new programming chapters that cover Python and MariaDB/MySQL.

Privileges Plus

Sobell zeros in on getting to the root of administrative privileges in Linux distros. He provides complete coverage of how to use both su and sudo commands to gain root privileges.

More reasons to grab this latest edition of Sobell's guidebook to Enterprise Linux is additional content and technology updates. For instance, he includes a new tutorial on using the GnuPG encryption tool to provide message identification, integrity and secrecy.

Want more? How about his full coverage of the systemd init daemon. More must-reads are his new chapter on virtual machines and cloud computing, including VMware, QEMU/KVM, virt-manager, virsh, GNOME Boxes, and AWS (Amazon Web Services). Again, this coverage is specific to setting up and using these tools on Fedora 19 and RHEL7.

Among the 29 chapters, the author has seven chapters on system administration including GRUB2, the XFS filesystem, setting up a LAN and monitoring a network using Cacti. More emphasis on configuring and using enterprise-strength tools come in three chapters on bash (Bourne Again Shell) and one chapter on shell programming or writing shell scripts. Also included is coverage of the command line and key system GUI tools.

About the Author

Sobell is well known for his many best-selling books. Besides his earlier editions of A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, his titles include Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux (Third Edition) and A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors and Shell Programming (Third Edition).

Sobell brings to his published work more than 30 years of experience working with Unix and Linux. He is the president of Sobell Associates, a consulting firm that designs and builds custom software applications for Unix and Linux systems, and provides training and support.

Sobell began working with computers part-time after high school on the Dartmouth Time-sharing System and started writing when he worked for a microcomputer company in the late 1970s. He published his first book (A Practical Guide to UNIX) in 1982 and started Sobell Associates in 1984.


Jack M. Germain has been writing about computer technology since the early days of the Apple II and the PC. He still has his original IBM PC-Jr and a few other legacy DOS and Windows boxes. He left shareware programs behind for the open source world of the Linux desktop. He runs several versions of Windows and Linux OSes and often cannot decide whether to grab his tablet, netbook or Android smartphone instead of using his desktop or laptop gear. You can connect with him on Google+.


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