Too many Linux books shoot themselves in the foot, either by explaining Linux in terms that can't be understood without a grounding in some other Unix flavor or by expecting readers to follow instructions blindly and be satisfied at their completion. Linux for Windows NT/2000 Administrators advertises itself as a "secret decoder ring," which means that it explains Linux phenomena in Windows terms. For example, the book specifies that daemons are to Linux what services are to Windows NT/2000. It might not make any sense to those who are unfamiliar with either environment, but it's perfectly clear to those who know Windows. This sort of approach, which reflects knowledge of the audience, as well as the subject matter, is typical of accomplished author Mark Minasi.
In large part, this book comes across as Linux for the Reader Who Has a Clue. Minasi enumerates the tasks that system administrators typically have to carry out. Examples of these include installing software and manipulating the privileges of users and groups. He explains how to do those jobs in various Linux environments, and addresses himself to Windows experts who'll need a bit of background, but don't require babying. Minasi doesn't explain why you'd want to install applications, but rather explicitly the mechanics of installing RPM packages and tarballed source code. He states flatly that most people will be happy with a precompiled kernel--that's what works for Windows, after all--but shows how to build your own, anyway. The book's full of that kind of material. This fact-rich text is a pleasure to read and learn from. --David Wall
Topics covered: Linux 2.2, explained in terms that Windows adepts can understand easily. Staying rather distribution-neutral, the book explains how to install Linux, use it in single-user workstation mode, and configure it as a network operating system. System administration tasks--software maintenance, user management, network troubleshooting, and so on--get top billing, although an ongoing comparison of Linux and the Wintel platform is important, too.