Book Review: Linux On Your Desktop

Using Linux on the server is the domain of technology experts. However, if Linux is going to grow it’s going to have to be used more and more on the desktop of end users and not just on servers. (I had a conversation with Novell’s SMB chief about this today – more on that later).
“Linux Desktop Hacks” by O’Reilly
will hopefully get users started in the right direction.
Although this is not a “Dummies” book, nor written for the technology illiterate, it’s probably a good book for the more technically advanced who want to use Linux on their desktops much better.
When it comes to choice, desktop usability, and features, Linux actually surpasses Windows in many ways, contend Nicholas Petreley and Jono Bacon, authors of “Linux Desktop Hacks” (O’Reilly, US $24.95). “Just as many productivity applications are
available for Linux as for Windows, and it’s surprisingly easy to run Microsoft Office applications directly on Linux,” they note. Moreover,, the Ximian Evolution email and scheduler (a Microsoft Outlook clone), the Firefox browser, and countless other programs make it possible for users to leave Windows behind and never miss a feature.
“Linux Desktop Hacks” shows readers how they can customize and configure Linux to make it easier, more powerful, and more fun to use. The authors include hacks to spiff up the boot experience with graphical startup screens, creative ways to log, and various ways for multiple users to access the same machine at the same time, each one using the graphical desktop they like best. They also show how to extend the capabilities of the graphical desktop and offer tips for those who prefer to do most of their work at the text-mode console.
“Linux is an expansive and capable piece of technology,” says Bacon. “As
such, it seemed that ‘Linux Desktop Hacks’ was a natural choice for a
book. There are many unique ways of hooking together different tools on
the Linux desktop to create fun and interesting results.”
“Linux Desktop Hacks” demonstrates how easy it is to modify Linux to suit
individual purposes. The book is packed with tips on customizing and
improving the interface, boosting performance, administering the desktop,
and generally making the most out of what X, KDE, Gnome, and the console
have to offer. “People who love tinkering with technology will love the
book,” notes Bacon. “It will help readers optimize their use of the
desktop but it will also open their eyes to the vast array of different
ways that they can hack the desktop.”
From the practical to the whimsical, the hacks in the book include the
following, and more:
-Kill and Resurrect the Master Boot Record
-Energize Your Console with Macro Music Magic
-Konquer Remote Systems Without Passwords
-Run KDE on the Bleeding Edge
-View Microsoft Word Documents in a Terminal
-Read Yahoo! Mail from Any Email Client
-Motion Capture and Video Conferencing Fun
-Automate Your Life with cron
-Protect Yourself from Windows Applications
-Make an Internet Connection Using Bluetooth and a Mobile Phone
-Print to Unsupported Printers
-Accelerate Your Gaming