It can be daunting to learn how to use Linux from scratch or become more familiar with its many intricacies, especially when you don’t know where to start and what to learn.
A good book can be an indispensable guide on your journey for knowledge, laying down a clear path for you to follow. Our selection of the best Linux books offers something to beginners and seasoned Linux veterans alike and presents a great, if somewhat old-school, alternative to online courses and YouTube explainer videos.
In his book, Jason Cannon presents an approachable introduction to the Linux operating system, clearly and concisely describing many concepts, commands, and nuances that are typically glanced over in less detailed introductions to Linux. The book doesn’t focus on any specific distribution. Instead, it talks about Linux systems in general and teaches how to use the GNU Core Utilities, which are the basic file, shell and text manipulation tools present in virtually all Linux distributions.
The Linux Command Line by William Shotts is a must-read book for somewhat experienced Linux users who would like to become power users and move away from the shiny, point-and-click surface of their Linux distributions of choice and explore the depths of the command line. By the time you’ve finished the book, you’ll know how to write powerful bash scripts that accomplish what would take mouse-dependent Linux neophytes a few hours in a few seconds, and you’ll also understand the reasoning behind many seemingly strange design decisions of core Linux developers.
Considering its length of over 800 pages, this step-by-step tutorial for mastering Linux has definitely earned its title. Its 25 chapters cover everything from using the shell to managing running processes to learning system administration to configuring a web server to securing Linux on a network. Those who’ve finished this book from cover to cover are said to have the ability to telepathically channel the almighty rms himself, but we can’t confirm such claims.
If you’d like to learn how Linux really works under the hood, Brian Ward has you covered. On its 350 or so pages, the book explains basic commands and directory hierarchy, devices, disks, filesystems, how the Linux kernel boots, how userspace starts, system configuration, processes and resource utilization, networking, shell scripts, Linux development tools, and more. The book has been written with regular Linux users in mind, but it also works as an introductory course for aspiring Linux system administrators.
The last book on our list is different than the previous ones because its purpose is to provide a definitive guide to installing, configuring, and maintaining any UNIX or Linux system, including systems that supply core Internet and cloud infrastructure. You might be wondering why you should keep around a book like this when you can just google any problem you come across. The reason is simple: the answers you find in this book are always 100 percent accurate and written by experts who understand UNIX and Linux in depth and know when one change may have unexpected consequences.