April 22, 2019

Linux Books--Then and Now - page 2

In the Ancient Times

  • October 4, 2004
  • By Rob Reilly

The two big book national book retailers, that I frequent, are Barnes & Noble and Borders. Both have large Linux and Open Source sections in their stores and offer the reader somewhat contrasting book browsing experiences.


Barnes and Noble is what I'd call a general purpose bookstore. In addition to a nice selection of Espresso drinks and desserts, they also have the largest selection of Linux and Open Source related books of any walk-in retailer, I've seen.

Most of the Barnes and Nobles have a main area labeled "Linux", which usually takes up several shelves and vertical columns of books. I'm happy to say, after years of cruising the aisles, that the Linux collection, at any one store is pretty impressive. If you are looking for the latest, hot-off-the-presses Linux or Open Source manual, B&N is definitely the place to go.

Now, if you're the Open Source type that likes to spend hours exploring the bookstore shelves on that insatiable quest for knowledge, there are many other sections that contain Open Source related books. Stake out a spot on a nearby puffy chair and then look under sections marked "Security", "Hacking", "Networking", "Databases" and "Web".

Some of the high profile titles that I've purchased, over the years, at Barnes and Noble include:

  • "Red Hat Linux Unleased" (including the RH 5.2 CDs) by Pitts and Ball.
  • Visual Quickstart Guide - "PHP For The World Wide Web" by Larry Ullman.
  • SAMS - "Teach Yourself SQL In 10 Minutes" by Ben Forta.
  • "HTML 4 Unleashed" by Rick Darnell.

The O'Reilly series of Linux, Unix and Open Source books tend to be particularly well represented, as well.

Do you like to keep up with the Linux print trade journals? Barnes and Noble has quite a selection. They include:

  • Linux Journal
  • Linux Magazine
  • Linux Format
  • Linux World Magazine
  • Linux User and Developer
  • SQL Server Magazine

One store I visit frequently, has the biggest magazine section that I've ever seen. It must be 40 feet long and 3 levels high! Not all Linux, of course, but you get the idea.


For me, Borders represents the essence of an eclectic, kicked-back literary experience. Every time I go to Borders, I feel like I'm going to go around a corner and run into some famous best-selling fiction writer. Their in-house cafe is earthtoney and usually has a stage for entertainers and speakers. Aisles have comfy stuffed chairs that offer a quiet place to relax and read. The place makes it easy for techies to interact with the artsy, creative crowd, which seems like it would be a good thing, to me.

They handle many mainstream and best-selling Linux techno titles. Examples include:

  • The SAMS Unleashed Series, such as Red Hat Linux 9 Unleashed
  • The O'Reilly Series, like "Linux Unwired" by Weeks, Dumbill and Jepson and "Linux Server Hacks" by Rob Flickenger
  • The Dummies Series, like "Linux For Dummies" by Dee Ann LeBlanc

Borders makes a good effort to cater to the highly discriminating techie, offering a range of specialty books, such as:

  • "Compilers - Principles, Techniques and Tools" by Aho, Sethi and Ullman.
  • "Programming Interviews Exposed" by Mongan and Suojanen
  • "Just For Fun", by the Grand Master himself, Linus Torvalds.

Open Source magazines are represented too, although the selection is small. I was able to find the latest editions of Linux Journal and Linux Format on my last visit.

Bingham noted that one of the most popular Borders Linux titles is "Moving to Linux: Kiss The Blue Screen of Death Goodbye". She also said that Linux distributions that come bundled with a book tend to sell the best. "Moving To Linux" comes with a Knoppix CD.


Although CompUSA's main focus is consumer hardware, they also stock a fair selection of Linux material. The selection varies from store to store and is smaller than what's available in the retail bookstores.

Many of the Linux and Open Source books end up on the clearance racks, so you should be cautious with your purchase, as the information may be a little dated. On the other hand, many techniques in Linux don't change that much and you may find these bargain older texts, useful additions to your library.

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