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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
For more advanced trainees it can be a desktop reference, and a collection of the base knowledge needed to proceed with system and network administration. This book contains many real life examples derived from the author's experience as a Linux system and network administrator, trainer and consultant. They hope these examples will help you to get a better understanding of the Linux system and that you feel encouraged to try out things on your own.
Click Here to receive this Complete Guide absolutely free.
A book I'd recommend is one of the O'Reilly books called the Linux Pocket Guide. It is small enough to be read cover to cover but contains a lot of fairly basic information. Its ISBN is 0-596-00628-4 and sells for about $10 US list.
One thing I'd suggest you look for a tutorial on is "shell scripting". Learning to script is easy and saves you tons of time as it allows you to automate things you do on a regular basis.
Distribution: Debian Etch (w/ dual-boot XP for gaming)
I agree, Linux is the kind of thing where you really do learn the best by hands-on experience. One of the best ways to learn is simply to install a Linux distribution and use it as your primary (preferably only) OS. Whenever you come across something that's not set up right, or is lacking (e.g sound, menu items wrong size/colour, anything else), make sure that you take the time to find out what the problem is and how to solve it. Like you say, things work differently in the Linux world to Windows, so practical experience is the only real way to learn.
And I agree that you don't really need a book - online information is (a)more up-to-date; (b)easier to find what you want; and (c)free! Also, (d)it's generally very good, if you can filter out the occasional bits of chaff. TLDP (the link above) is indeed an excellent site for linux information, and their "Guides" section approximates the books you were asking about.
Distribution: Debian Etch (w/ dual-boot XP for gaming)
Oh, and not sure if they count as a book per se - but the man pages are an excellent resource that are often overlooked by users. Simply typing 'man <command>' (e.g. 'man ls') into a terminal gives you the manual page for that command, including common usage and what all the flags and options do.
Another handy command is 'apropos' - want to find applications that involve email? Try 'apropos email', for a list of programs that might help. (Personally, while this is a great idea, I've never found it to work quite well. Then again, there are those who swear by it (I've seen it as #1 on a Top Ten Linux Commands list). YMMV).
I found, and find that having a book next to you can help, especially if you prefer to read a book than filter through webpages looking for things.
wikipedia is a good place to type in commands if you do not know what they do, but as mentioned the man pages are an amazing reference guide.
I have not found one book that is amazing, but any Linux Command Reference book is good. If you're just starting out, pick a distro, then buy a book to go with that distro so that its "for that distro" so you cannot go wrong when you're reading the book.
Sometimes you can buy a book, but the Linux version you use does things a little different and so you can get a little annoyed, and put off so get a book to go with your system, read the install chapter first, remember to back up everything before you partition any drive, and have fun.
Linux Documentation project (www.tldp.org) has a number of great books, you should check them. If you want a beginner book, look at "Introduction to linux, a hands on guide" in the In Depth Guides section.
I'll give u a little plan which i did in the past (the extremely newbie state)
The books i'll mention is in www.tldp.org --> in depth guides
1) A general tutorial "Introduction to Linux, a hands on guide"
2) A shell biginners guide "Bash Guide for beginners"
3) A good time to understand linux file system hierarchy "Linux File System heirarchy"
4) Move to Advanced Scripting and Unix power utilities in "Advanced Bash Scripting guide"
5) .... You decide ...
Google also should be your friend in task
I also mention O'reilly, it's a publisher of great unix/linux books .. you can register in safari bookshelf if you like...
If you live in country where copyrights are not a problem (like me), go to Bittorent and search for books too .. You'll find a lot of them
After being advanced, take time to learn how to insert modules, recompiling kernels, patching kernels and so on
You should use one of the geek distros like (Gentoo, Slackware or at least debian), They will teach you a lot of things
but you should use them at least at satge 4 (Advanced Bash scripting guide will teach u a lot..)