What's New in the Newest Linux in a Nutshell?

Interview with Stephen Figgins


I'm amazed at all the technical people living here in Lawrence, Kansas, so I've decided to do a series of interviews to highlight what our small college town has to offer the international tech community. Recently I sat down with local author Stephen Figgins at a coffee shop to talk about what's new in the latest release of the popular Linux in a Nutshell book.

Stephen Figgins at the Java Break.

I ran into Stephen Figgins at OSCON in San Jose last summer and he told me he'd been working on the 6th edition of Linux in a Nutshell. Last Friday we met in Kansas at a coffee shop to discuss the new release.

Stephen lives about two miles from me in Lawrence, Kansas, and works less than a block from our Linux Pro Magazine office. I first met Stephen a few years ago at his house – his wife provided after-school care for my daughter. It's a small geeky world after all.

Stephen says that the most noticeable changes in the latest Linux in a Nutshell are the git and virtualization chapters. He says, "The git chapter was written by Avery Pennarun, who we think did a great job matching the style of the other chapters." He adds, "The virtualization chapter offers an overview of setting up a server for running multiple virtualized systems – KVM and Xen are covered here, as well as the libvirt command-line tools used to control them."

Because the server is so widely adopted, Stephen says that the book authors also decided to cover VMware's ESC server. He says, "ESX has a Linux-based console. While most of the time you will use a GUI to manage your ESX servers, the console offers useful commands for analyzing and manipulating virtual guests. Sometimes the console works when the GUI fails and it can be useful troubleshooting and recovery as well as for scripting changes to systems and networks."

The 6th edition covers the esxcfg-* commands, vmware-cmd, esx-top, and vmkfstools. "We document the tools for VMware ESX 3.5," Stephen says. "While we wrote this book before the release of vSphere (ESX 4.0), the new ESX servers still support most of these commands."

Four years have passed since the 5th edition of Linux in a Nutshell hit book stores, so readers will notice small updates throughout the latest edition.

Stephen says, "On the surface, a list of commands may seem redundant with Linux's built-in man pages and search engines at your fingertips, but I think our book condenses that information nicely and gives some consistency to how the commands are described and presented. When the man pages confuse you, our descriptions offer another take that can help you gain more clarity."

What if you're already the proud owner of the 5th edition? "Even owners of the 5th edition who don't use virtualization or git might want to get a copy of the 6th, if only for the updated information on commands and tools," Stephen says.

Find out more about Linux in a Nutshell at: http://oreilly.com/catalog/9780596154493

Read Linux in a Nutshell co-author Ellen Siever's interview on my blog.


  • Look up Phil Anderson

    and Kantronics sometime. Both are big names in the amateur radio community although Kantronics prominence has fallen off considerably over the past decade.
comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Linux Newsletters
Find Linux and Open Source Jobs
Subscribe to our ADMIN Newsletters

Support Our Work

Linux Magazine content is made possible with support from readers like you. Please consider contributing when you’ve found an article to be beneficial.

Learn More