[ubuntu-uk] What would you like in a book..

John Levin john at technolalia.org
Mon Jul 28 22:17:30 BST 2008

Alan Pope wrote:
> Whilst I appreciate that not everyone likes books in dead-tree form, some 
> do, so let's focus this on that group of people who do.
> I've been wondering if there's a set of Ubuntu related topics that are not 
> covered, or not covered well in the current set of books available.
> What would you like out of an Ubuntu book? 

Of all the books I have about Desktop Ubuntu, only one (Keir Thomas,
Beginning Ubuntu Linux, Apress) has any detail about how to use Open
Office Calc. (This example because I was called upon to make some

There's too much about operating systems, installation and trouble
shooting in most linux books, when what many people want to do I think
is actually use the computer to make stuff. This may seem like moving
the stress from ubuntu to the likes of Open Office, Gimp etc, but the
operating system should, in the normal course of things, be transparent
to the (non-hacker) user.

Installation is a bit of a weird case, in that either one page will
suffice (cd in drive, change bios to boot from cd, start installer,
answer questions, make a cup of tea) or a veritable encyclopaedia
covering every piece of hardware that's ever been made. I don't think
I've ever seen any of the install problems I've had in any book, save
for reconfiguring xfree/x.org.

With Ubuntu being pre-installed on Dells and others, perhaps a book
targeted at those users could skip installation altogether, although a
peripheral troubleshooting guide would sadly be necessary.

I don't books to cover more than one variant; the result is a lot of
unnecessary information for the reader, superficial coverage of the
versions not concentrated on, and a squeeze on the space available for
the primary version covered. (Other *buntus should be mentioned, but it
would be better if they had their own tome.)

Really, I think this is an area where POD (Print On Demand) should come 
into its own; people could order a book tailored to their own needs 
(e.g. they have a preinstalled Dell; they are using Kubuntu; they are 
using the desktop not a server; they require a guide to the 
applications; and so on).

And finally, what I would really like to see isn't be about the
operating system at all, but about the community. It's really difficult 
keeping track of all the news, what's happening and where to go to help 
out / sort a problem.



John Levin

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