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I have developed the habit of reading at least 30 minutes everyday before going to bed. I always have a technical and a non-technical book in my reading queue. I read lot of infrastructure related books — sysadmin, DBA, networking and storage. I also enjoy reading biography of famous people, personal development and occasional thriller.
The 12 Linux books mentioned here by no means are comprehensive or authoritative list. But, these 12 Books are few of my favorites that I enjoyed reading over the years and I strongly believe will enhance your technical abilities on Linux, if you have not read them yet.
- Sed and Awk, by Dale Dougherty and Arnold Robbins. Sed and Awk have transformed the way I worked on Linux command line. This book is the only material you would ever need on Sed and Awk. Once you’ve mastered even the basics of Sed and Awk, you’ll be amazed with the amount of complex tasks you can perform very quickly and elegently. For my day-to-day quick reference of sed and awk examples, I use the Sed and Awk Pocket Reference, written by the same author.
- Learning the Vi and Vim Editors, by Arnold Robbins. I’m a command-line junkie. So, naturally I’m a huge fan of Vi and Vim editors. Several years back, when I wrote lot of C code on Linux, I used to carry the Vi editor pocket reference with me all the times. Even if you’ve been using Vi and Vim Editors for several years and have not read this book, please do yourself a favor and read this book. You’ll be amazed with the capabilities of Vim editor.
- Bash Cookbook, by Carl Albing, JP Vossen and Cameron Newham. Whether you are a sysadmin, DBA or a developer, you have to write shell script at some point. A wise sysadmin knows that once you’ve mastered the shell-scripting techniques, you can put your servers on auto-pilot mode by letting the shell-scripts do the grunt work. To get to the auto-pilot mode of sysadmin, you definitely need to master the examples provided in this cookbook. There are few Bash shell books out there. But, this books tops them all by giving lot of detailed examples.
- SSH, The Secure Shell, by Daniel J. Barrett, Richard E. Silverman and Robert G. Byrnes. This is hands-down the best book on SSH. This book explains both theoretical and practical aspects of SSH. Using SSH as an end-user is fairly straight forward . But, configuring SSH as an administrator is complex and involves a detailed understanding of SSH. This is a must read for any system administrator. The examples in this book show exactly what needs to be done differently for the different flavors of SSH such as SSH1, SSH2 and OpenSSH.
- Essential System Administration, by Æleen Frisch. This is an excellent book for those who like to become a Unix System Administrator. This book covers all the typical system administration tasks. This is a perfect companion when you are dealing with multiple flavors of Unix, as it has examples for AIX, FreeBSD, HP-UX, Linux, Solaris and Tru64. I’ve used the pocket version of this book — Essential System Administration Pocket Reference, when I was managing multiple flavors of Unix systems at the same time.
- Linux Server Hacks, Volume One, by Rob Flickenger. 100 awesome practical hacks packed in one book. Setup a Linux test bed and try out all these hacks. These hacks are neatly grouped into different sections — Server Basics, Revision Control, Backups, Networking, Monitoring, SSH, Scripting, and Information Servers. Once you’ve mastered these hacks, you should absolutely read Linux Server Hacks, Volume Two, by William von Hagen and Brian Jones, which has 100 Linux hacks focussed on authentication, monitoring, security, performance and connectivity.
- DNS and BIND, by Cricket Liu and Paul Albitz. Several years ago, I configured my first DNS by reading online documentation. I brought this book to understand how DNS and BIND works. I’ve already upgraded this book twice when a newer edition was released. This should definitely be in your library, if you are a serious system administrator.
- Understanding the Linux Kernel, by Daniel Bovet and Marco Cesati. If you are a serious developer on Linux environment or a sysadmin, this is a must read. This books explains the inner workings of the Linux Kernel 2.6 in a structured and logical way. This talks about how Kenel handles the Memory Management, Process scheduling, I/O architecture and Block devices. Overall this book is a treat for geeks who are curious to explore what is under the hood of Linux.
- Linux Cookbook, by Carla Schroder. This book covers Linux features from both users and system administrators point of view. There are two chapters dedicated for installing and managing software on RPM-based system and Debian. If you use RedHat, the Linux Pocket Guide, by Daniel J. Barrett is an excellent addition to your library, which covers all the essential Linux command with a sample usage.
- Linux Firewalls, by Michael Rash. To build a secure Linux system, you must read this book. There are quite a few books out there for iptables. But, this one talks specifically about the fundamentals of how to configure an Intrusion Detection System using iptables, psad and fwsnort. If you want a comprehensive handy reference of all the things iptables can do with specific examples, Linux Iptables Pocket Reference, by Gregor N. Purdy is the best.
- Linux Administration Handbook, by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder and Trent R. Hein. During my early days of system administration, I’ve referred this book frequently. This is pretty detailed book with close to 1000 pages and 30 chapters that are nicely grouped together in three high level sections — Basic Administration, Networking and Bunch O’ Stuff.
- Beginning Ubuntu Linux, by Keir Thomas and Jaime Sicam. For those who like to transition from Windows to Linux, install Ubuntu Linux on one of your old laptop or desktop and get this book. I strongly believe in spreading the news about Linux to those who don’t use it. If you want any of your loved ones or friends to learn Linux, install Ubuntu on an old laptop and give this book as a gift to them. They’ll definitely be very thankful to you.
For more Linux books that I recommend, browse The Geek Stuff bookstore at Amazon.
There are several hundreds of books on Linux. What is your favorite Linux book that is not on this list?
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