Linux for Non-Geeks

A Hands-On, Project-Based, Take-It-Slow Guidebook
by Rickford Grant

March 2004, 336 pp.
ISBN: 978-1-59327-034-6


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Click here to download chapter 3

This book is for any home user who has switched or is thinking of switching to Linux. Based on Red Hat's Fedora Core, Linux For Non-Geeks avoids geeky subjects like server and network setup and concentrates on the subjects of interest to the average home user: installation, the Internet, playing CDs and audio files, desktop customization, games, downloading software and fonts, USB storage devices, printing, and more. Readers with only basic experience with Windows or another Linux distribution will learn how to do everything on their Linux machine that they are used to doing with Windows. A complete installation of Fedora Core is included on two CD-ROMs.

About the Author

Rickford Grant has been a computer operating system maniac for over 20 years. From his earliest days with his Atari XL600 to his present Linux machines, he has been the guy at the other end of the computer help line for family, friends and colleagues. When not burning himself out in front of his monitor, or annoying his neighbors with his Nyckelharpa (Swedish keyed fiddle) playing, he spends his working hours as an Associate Professor at Toyama University of International Studies in Japan, where he teaches courses in English Language, Swedish Culture, and English-language-based computing.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Becoming a Penguinista—Welcome to the World of Linux
Chapter 2: Making Commitments—Installing Linux on Your Machine
Chapter 3: A New Place to Call Home—Getting to Know the Desktop
Chapter 4: More than Webbed Feet—Doing the Net with Linux
Chapter 5: Dressing Up the Bird—Customizing the Look, Feel, and Sound of Your System
Chapter 6: Gutenbird—Setting Up and Using Your Printer
Chapter 7: Putting Your Data on Ice—Working with Floppies and CDs
Chapter 8: RPM Isn't a 1980s Atlanta-Based Band—Installing Programs with RPM
Chapter 9: Simple Kitten Ways—Getting to Know the Linux Terminal and Command Line
Chapter 10: Yes, Yet Another Way!—Downloading, Installing, and Updating Programs with APT and Synaptic
Chapter 11: Dining on Tarballs—Compiling Programs from Source (Made Kind of Easy)
Chapter 12: Data on Ice Revisited—Windows Partitions and USB Storage Devices
Chapter 13: Tux Rocks—Music a la Linux
Chapter 14: Brush-Wielding Penguins—Linux Does Art
Chapter 15: Penguins Back at Work—Getting Down to Business in Linux
Chapter 16: Font Feathered Frenzy—Adding New Fonts to Your System
Chapter 17: Tux Speaks Your Language—Linux for Multilingual Users and Language Learners
Chapter 18: Tux Untethered—Going Wireless with Linux
Chapter 19: Leaving the Nest—Getting Ready to Move Out on Your Own
Chapter 20: What to Do If Tux Starts Acting Up—Problem Solving
Appendix A: Launcher Specifications
Appendix B: Resources



"Grant does an excellent job of accomplishing his goal – introducing Linux to the uninitiated and sharing enough knowledge for someone to effectively use the operating system without becoming a certified expert in it.", Focus on Internet/Network Security, October 9, 2006 (Read more)

Book highlighted in article by professor about designing a course in Linux system administration
--Linux Journal (Read article)

Sample chapter from Linux for Non-Geeks posted
--Open IT World04 (Read chapter)

"Definitely worth your time... This will teach newbies how to feel confident and comfortable as they explore Linux, and it will open their minds to new possibilities in the workplace, making your Linux deployment a success from the start."
--Computerworld, Nov. 29, 2004 (Full review)

"Linux for Non-Geeks is written in a friendly, instructional style and is free of personal anecdotes and bad puns (something technology writers have a bad habit of including). It is easy to read and avoids technical terminology wherever possible. In fact, it would be a challenge to find a book covering Windows with so little geek-speak."
--LinuxAdvocate (Full review)

"I was very pleased with how the author went through they basic non-technical side of Linux"
--Philadelphia Area LinuxChix Chapter (Full review)

"A remarkably well-presented book that comes with a 2-CD Fedora installation. If you are a Linux novice, and have a serious intent to learn and use the operating system, this title is highly recommended."
--Book News

"'Linux for Non-Geeks' is the perfect start for virtually anybody wanting to give Linux a try, whether you are a student, business, enthusiast or otherwise."
--SearchSA (Australia) (Read article)

"Linux for Non-Geeks points out the ease of using Linux [...] Very highly recommended."
--Midwest Book Review

Read the LinuxWorld interview with author Rickford Grant.

"A far cry from dumbed down editions of how-to comic book style manuals from other publishers, No Starch Press has adopted a smart series of books for the capable, no nonsense audience; those folks who are not afraid to try new things and who want a clear and (more importantly) practical approach to enhancing their skill set. This book is a stand out in that series. [...] Nicely balanced information for a new Linux user, an on again/off again Linux user or for the switcher."
--Slashdot (Full review)

"...a good, solid book."
--UnixReview (Read article)

"In a volume begun as a tutorial for his mother, Grant (computing, Toyama U. of International Studies, Japan) introduces Linux to both computer novices and to computer users new to Linux. Appendices include launcher specifications and online resources. The CDs provide a complete working version of Linux based on Red Hat's Fedora Core."
--SciTech Book News

"Very highly recommended."
--Midwest Book Review (Read article)

"If you want to demonstrate to the least-geekish person you know that they can, indeed, run Linux (instead of another, nameless, product), get them Grant's book [...] it's certainly the best thing I've seen in years for someone who wants to get eased in."
--Peter Salus, ;login:

"Rickford Grant knows when to take you by the hand and when to let you go on your own. By the time you've finished reading, you'll feel confident with Linux. If that's your aim, then I suggest you get a hold of Linux For Non-Geeks."
--Linux Online ( (Read article)

"The author has done an excellent job of presenting Linux in a friendly fun to read fashion, and never comes off sounding elitist or condescending. A bit of humor injected here and there and the writing style makes it a very easy to read book. Don't think that just because it's easy to read, it isn't jam packed with useful information, because it is. [...] If I could recommend only one book for those thinking about running Linux, this would be the book. It answers many of the "newbie" questions you see on a regular basis in any Linux forum. For only being 308 pages the author has done a fine job of introducing Linux to anyone wanting to learn. I only wish it had been written when I started using Linux !"
--USA LUG review (Read article)

"Linux for Non-Geeks is a fantastic guidebook to Linux for folks who are making the switch."
--PCWorld Online

"Linux for Non-Geeks is a bargain way to get the Linux operating system running on one's Windows PC...Author Rickford Grant, an impressive explainer, delivers well-written and clear guidance about using the included CD to set up a Windows PC to also boot into the Linux flavor of Fedora."
--Chicago Tribune (Read article)

"...a practical guide for anyone wanting to get started with Linux, without knowing how to go about doing it. Hats off to the author for making his first book a success in explaining the topic in a focused and understandable way, with humor and style."
--Hosting Resolve (Read article)

*THE best book for Fedora Newbies*

"...I can't say enough about this book... the author holds your hand, but isn't condescending at all. There's a little command-line stuff, but not more than necessary. No need to install from a command line again! After I followed directions and installed Synaptic, all my application installation worries are long gone!" (Full posting)

"I recently began playing with Fedora Core1on my spare PC. As most newcomers to Linux can probably attest, browser plug-ins can be a pain if (like myself) you don't have a clue. Fortunately, I found a copy of Linux for Non-Geeks by Rickford Grant to assist me in this and other tasks." (Full posting)

"First of all, God Bless Rickford Grant and Linux for Non-Geeks (No Starch Press) for easing me into the absolute basics of browser plug-in installs, the latest place to find Fedora RPM's, how to install Apt-for-RPM and Synaptic, a RealOne player for Fedora, and other things that make me start to feel like a real Linux user!" (Full posting)

"Whatever your Linux interests and needs, Linux for Non-Geeks is a superb introduction that sings the benefits and good sense of the worlds of Linux world, and then clearly explains how you can become a "Penguinista" (a Linux-user) and join the fun."
--Epublishers Weekly (Read article)

"Admit it, you're alternately fascinated and intimidated by Linux. Sure, you'd like to join the open-source revolution and all that, but aren't those non-Windows operating systems just for eggheads? Of course not, and the good folks at No Starch Press are willing to show you why it's all very non-threatening. Their new Linux for Non-Geeks ($35), available at, has the full skinny on all the Linux basics: how to browse the Web, burn CDs, and do all those other modest tasks you've enjoyed as a Windows user. Lest you think the price is a bit steep, the book comes packaged with the ultimate teaching aid-a two-CD version of Fedora Linux."
--Village Voice

*7 out of 10 brains*
"Overall, if you're new to Linux, and want to give it a try as a desktop system, then this book would be a good choice for helping you down that road.", October 2004