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Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Knoppix Hacks
Publisher: O'Reilly
Authors: Kyle Rankin
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Wow... this book blew me away...

OK... I'm impressed! I just finished reading Knoppix Hacks by Kyle Rankin (O'Reilly), and I really didn't have a clue as to the power of Knoppix...

Chapter List: Boot Knoppix; Use Your Knoppix Desktop; Tweak Your Desktop; Install Linux With Knoppix; Put Knoppix In Your Toolbox; Repair Linux; Rescue Windows; Knoppix Reloaded; Knoppix Remastered; Index

I'm going to guess I'm like most non-Linux junkies when I say that I had heard of Knoppix and thought I knew what it was. It's a distribution of Linux that runs from a CD, and allows you to load Linux on a computer without installing anything. Just boot from the CD and five minutes later you're running Linux. Remove the CD and reboot, and you're back to your original configuration. A nice safe way to play with Linux and decide if you want to go any further. End of story.


In Knoppix Hacks, Rankin covers 100 "hacks" that you can do with the Knoppix distribution. Beyond just trying out Linux, I quickly learned that a Knoppix CD is like a Swiss Army knife of tools that you can use to do all sorts of cool things. You learn in the first chapter how you can launch Knoppix to load up in a number of different configurations. Using Hack #8, you can use Knoppix to find out if your laptop is going to work well with Linux before loading it for good. But the further you get into the book, the more Knoppix becomes a safety net the likes of which you may never have realized. Hack #41 covers using Knoppix to build an emergency file server, and #42 is how to build an emergency web server. Chapter 6 goes into how Knoppix can be used to repair existing Linux installs, like #59 where you rescue files from damaged hard drives. Even if you're a Windows person, you can use Knoppix to repair Windows installations, like with hack #79 which shows you how to download Window patches securely. He even covers how to build your own custom version of Knoppix with Linux software selections that are important to you. The book comes with a Knoppix CD, so you can try out many of the hacks without having to go hunting for a Knoppix download.

This is probably the first Hacks title that transcends the Hacks philosophy and becomes a "user manual" on Knoppix. There just isn't anything out on the market like this book, and once you read the material you quickly realize how much you've been missing by not having a Knoppix CD in your CD case.

This is an incredible book on an incredible tool that is much more than what meets the eye. Highly recommended.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Numerical Recipes in Fortran
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Authors: William H. Press, Brian P. Flannery, Saul A. Teukolsky, William T. Vetterling
Rating: 4/5
Customer opinion - 4 stars out of 5
A Useful Tool for Programmers, Researchers, and Students

This volume, and its companions for other programming languages, is an absolute classic. The authors strike the right balance between cookbook solutions and theory, so that most of us get just enough background to choose the right algorithm but not so much to get drowned in theory. This edition is the first devoted only to Fortran, but is the second edition published by the authors. It includes a number of additions and corrections, many of which appeared in Computers in Physics (now the journal Computing in Science and Engineering published jointly by the IEEE and the APS). My only criticism is, where were these books twenty years ago when I needed them? I would recommend these books to anyone involved in the application of numerical methods. They are tremendous time savers.
I never bothered with the discs, as most of the routines are fairly short and not a problem to type in, but I recommend the companion example books to help get the routines running.

Product: Book - Paperback
Title: Don't Make Me Think: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability
Publisher: New Riders Press
Authors: Steve Krug
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Excellent overview of subject

Krug has successfully compiled into one book, the relevant and important issues you need to take into consideration when developing a Web site. This book is specially useful if you are compiling guidelines and practices for your own use, as it provides a broad and interesting take on some over-discussed issues.
If you are looking for a book about usability testing, this is not it. This information is rather introductory in this level so, if you already have some experience and familiarity with the subject, go for more powerful approaches with authors like Jakob Nielsen or Jared Spool. I highly recommend the book if you are new to the area and looking for the basic information to get started.

Product: Book - Hardcover
Title: Distributed Systems: Principles and Paradigms
Publisher: Prentice Hall
Authors: Andrew S. Tanenbaum, Maarten van Steen
Rating: 5/5
Customer opinion - 5 stars out of 5
Very detailed, very thorough, great read!

This book is a very detailed, well illustrated, and very thorough introduction to distributed systems - I greatly appreciate the comparison between WWW and Lotus Notes linking and distribution schemes. This book is a great read - there is only a little source code - pseudo code - so it is pretty easy to just read a chapter per night. I appreciate the recent printing - a great deal can change in this industry in a short time. Coulouris' book, which is very similar but with fewer illustrations, is two years old now! Highly recommended.