Mastering Red Hat Linux 9

Author: Michael Jang
Pages: 912
Publisher: Sybex
ISBN: 078214179X


Here it is again, another book dedicated to Red Hat Linux. As a fan of the operating system I jumped right on it to see what it can offer compared to the other books on the same subject. Is it worth having on your bookshelf? Read on to find out.

About the author

Michael Jang, RHCE, Linux+, LCP, specializes in books on Linux and Linux certification. His experience with computers goes back to the days of jumbled punch cards. He’s written or contributed to over a dozen books on Linux, Linux certification, Red Hat Linux, and even Windows 98 and XP.

Inside the book

As expected for this type of a book, it starts with an introduction to Red Hat Linux as well as a brief history of UNIX and Linux. Although the installation of Red Hat Linux is usually a breeze, Jang gives you information on how to prepare your hardware for installation by writing about partitioning, dual booting with Windows and demonstrating how to find compatible hardware.

When it comes to the installation process, the author illustrates how to perform the installation step by step not only locally but also over a network. The instructions Jang provides are easy to follow and backed up by a plethora of screenshots that will put the biggest of the newbie on the right track. As regards the installation of Red Hat Linux over a network, this advanced type of installation is explained with the coverage of the following topics: the preparation of NFS, HTTP and FTP servers and the troubleshooting of the installation. Detailed screenshots are present throughout the chapter and, as before, the detail level is high.

Next Jang introduces the kickstart system developed by Red Hat. This is where an administrator gets his juice as he learns how to automate the installation process on a group of computers. Among other things, examined here are the comps.xml file (which organizes Red Hat Linux packages into several groups) and the anaconda-ks.cfg file (that allows kickstart to create the same configuration on another computer).

The second part of the book is about introducing you to Linux fundamentals and kicks off with an exploration of the command line. Here you learn about the basic commands (setting up files and managing them) and the vi editor. Moving forward the author writes about the filesystem. Here you get an understanding of the Linux directory structure as well as about partitions and logical volume management. Chapter eight brings you closer to the secrets of the shell as Jang teaches you how to configure the shell and get the most out of it.

The third part of the book opens up the world of basic Linux administration and kicks off with a discussion on securely administering users and groups. Those of you concerned about security will be happy to read about the shadow password suite which provides additional security through encrypted passwords in the /etc/shadow and /etc/gshadow files. The following chapter introduces managing packages with the Red Hat Package Manager (RPM). Obviously here you learn all about working with RPMs but what administrators will like is a part dedicated to up2date and the security concerned users will enjoy the part on RPM security where you learn how to verify the contents of a package. Next the author examines the boot process and addresses several configuration and troubleshooting topics.

Some users think of kernel upgrades or recompiling as something very advanced. Jang will get you started by providing a detailed analysis of what can be achieved with the GUI kernel configuration tool. Moving forward you learn how to use the cron and at daemons, manage services and troubleshoot with logs. Now Jang addresses one of the most important topics – backing up and shows you how to use backup and restore commands, discusses media types for backup and more. To close off this chapter the author provides a lot on RAID.

The fourth part of the book is all about X Window management with the first chapter being dedicated to to managing X Servers and X Clients. The author illustrates configuration tools and gives you the material you need in order to understand several configuration files. The following two chapters are dedicated to GNOME and KDE and teach you how to use them and some of their utilities. As regards security features, described here is lokkit, a utility for configuring firewalls. As you’ll certainly want to use some GUI applications, the author introduces working with OpenOffice, KOffice and much more.

In order to configure and administer you Linux box you need some good tools so chapter 18 introduces the graphical utilities developed by Red Hat for that purpose. Here you learn how to setup many system and network settings.

The fifth part of the book covers basic Linux networking. First off you get a TCP/IP primer where you learn the basics and explore network fundamentals and then you move on to get an understanding of managing Linux on your LAN. Topics covered include: routing, switching, network troubleshooting, internet connections creation, etc.

This part closes with a chapter dedicated to securing your Linux network. Jang provides an overview of network security best practices illustrates the usage of Pluggable Authentication Modules (PAM) and shows you how to create firewalls. In order to protect the machines on your LAN from direct attack, the author demonstrates how to setup IP Masquerading.

The last two parts of the book deal with Linux network services and file-sharing services. Here you get more information on remote access, xinetd services, DNS, DHCP, mail services, Samba, NFS, NIS, and more. As regards security, the author writes about TCP Wrappers, SSH, the secure FTP server, etc.

My 2 cents

After having read various heavy titles on Red Hat Linux I can honestly say that this is a great publication. Both new and intermediate Linux users will get the most out of the book. The author did an amazing job of keeping everything very easy to follow and did not overcrowd the book with some advanced topics not adequate for new users. It’s pretty simple really – you want to know a lot on Red Hat Linux? Get this book, today.

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