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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.
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Knoppix-derivate that aims for full compatibility with Debian Sid ("unstable" branch), it's the easiest way to have a perfectly-working Debian installed in minutes.
It can be used as a LiveCD (without touching your hard-disk), and it will automagically detect pretty much all your hardware with a greater precision than the official Debian-Installer. If you then select to install it on your hard-drive, you can proceed to administer it as you would with a standard Debian, e.g. using the APT package manager with official Debian repositories.
Hardware supported out-of-the-box include many DSL modems, wireless cards and winmodem, with easy scripts to download and install third-party binary drivers (like for NVidia and ATI Radeon cards) and fix ommon problems. DMA and ACPI are turned on by default, making it a very good distribution for laptops.
The default desktop system is KDE 3.4, with lesser-capable windowmanagers also included. Basic applications for everyday tasks are preinstalled (OpenOffice, Firefox, Thunderbird, Kontact/KMail, GAIM, and loads of other) Multimedia support is also very well configured; once you install libdvdcss2 ("apt-get install libdvdcss2" is all you need to type, or you can use the included Synaptic frontend) your DVD will work flawlessly.
Distribution maintaners can be found at http://forum.kanotix.net or on #kanotix on freenode, and will probably answer your question if you ask politely.
All in all, I found this distribution to be much better than Ubuntu/Kubuntu (probably the most famous Debian-based alternative) for hw recognition and default configuration on laptops.