Book Review: Linux Starter Kit, by Emmett Dulaney
Reviewed by Peter H. Salus
Linux Starter Kit, by Emmett Dulaney
Sams Publishing, 2006
Pages: 128 + DVD; US$39.99; CA$53.99; UKP28.99
In general, I hate packaging. I used to think
of Christmas as that time of year when every
father in North America drove a large copper
staple into his thumb while trying to open a
carton containing a large toy.
Where the Linux Starter Kit was concerned,
it took me longer to open the several layers
of cellophane and shrink-wrap than it took
me to mount the DVD on an old Dell laptop
(running XP) and see a familiar Gnome footprint.
In all likelihood, all readers of Groklaw are
already running Linux or OS X or one of the BSDs.
But it is equally likely that you've got a
relative or friend you'd like to "convert" from
the creations of M$. This Starter Kit is a
good way to do it.
The DVD contains "SUSE LINUX 10.1" and a
"Reference Manual." This latter is 650 pages
of searchable PDFs. The book (or booklet)
contains materials for "Installation," "Linux
Basics," and "Troubleshooting."
But whoever had the idea for this, had a good
one. While I am still a fan of Marcel Gagne's
Moving to Linux: Kiss the Blue Screen of Death
Goodbye! (second ed., 2005), which comes with
a Knoppix CD-ROM, the Kit's SUSE certainly
surpasses Knoppix. Moreover, SUSE 10.1 comes with
Firefox, OpenOffice and both KDE and Gnome.
However, SUSE 10.1 is far from the retail SUSE Linux
sold by Novell. Among other things, it lacks numerous
plug-ins. All these are easily downloadable, but I
thought that newbies would want to avoid that sort of
But there are drawbacks. I'm not sure that the
extremely terse booklet is really suitable where
chapters 4 (on YaST) and 5 (on files and filesystems)
are concerned. I think a true beginner will feel
both frustrated and at sea if attempting to follow
Finally, there's no clearly outlined road ahead: if
the newbie want to install the full Novell distribution,
it's not an add-on: she/he will have to reinstall
In short, Linux Starter Kit offers the M$ user
a good route to ease into Linux. But it isn't effortless,
nor does it yield the convert a clear way to go "whole
hog." The Starter Kit is a good idea at a
reasonable price. The next version should be even better.
Dr. Salus is the author of "A Quarter Century of UNIX" (which you can obtain here, here, here and here) and several other books, including "HPL: Little Languages and Tools", "Big Book of Ipv6 Addressing Rfcs", "Handbook of Programming Languages (HPL): Imperative Programming Languages", "Casting the Net: From ARPANET to INTERNET and Beyond", and "The Handbook of Programming Languages (HPL): Functional, Concurrent and Logic Programming Languages". There is an interview with him, audio and video,"codebytes: A History of UNIX and UNIX Licences" which was done in 2001 at a USENIX conference. Dr. Salus has served as Executive Director of the USENIX Association.
This work is copyrighted by Peter H. Salus, and is licensed under the Creative Commons
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