Book Review: The Complete Guide to Linux System Administration

March 14, 2012
The Complete Guide to Linux System Administrationby Course Technology is an excellent companion to the Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification. It covers a few new topics and goes into greater detail on some topics only skimmed over in the Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification book.

My Thoughts

“If I already have the Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification do I need this book?”

In my opinion, yes. The two books complement each other, and studying both will provide a more in-depth understanding of Linux. While some content is redundant, much of it describes topics from a different perspective and in greater depth.

For example, there is a better explanation of inodes and links. The Complete Guide to Linux System Administration goes into detail about hard and soft links complete with an illustration while the Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification (Linux+ for brevity) only discusses how to create the links.

RAID is barely given one page in the Linux+ book, but this book devotes much of chapter 13 to various RAID levels, the Logical Volume Manager, and backups complete with illustrations. Even though the 3rd edition of the  Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification discusses a few topics mentioned in this book, such as the Logical Volume Manager, reading The Complete Guide to Linux System Administration will help deepen your knowledge of Linux.

So, yes. For a more thorough understanding of how things work behind the scenes, this book is worth having and will help fill in the blanks left by the Linux+ book.

This is a textbook, so the format is the same as the Linux+ book. There are fifteen chapters, and each chapter is followed by a chapter summary, glossary, key terms, quizzes, and hands-on practice.

While this book is thicker than the Linux+ book, its reading level is the same. Certain topics are discussed in greater depth than the Linux+ book, and a few new topics are introduced. However, there is nothing overwhelmingly advanced. If you understood the Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification, then you will grasp this book as well.

The Complete Guide to System Administration is a good book to have, and I enjoyed it. Think of it as “Linux+ Part Two.” However, like the Linux+ book, the same issues still apply. Written in 2004, some parts are outdated, but surprisingly most of the content is still useful today. In fact, the Linux+ book seemed to contain more outdated information than this one.

For someone new to Linux, this is probably not to the best book to begin with due to its almost exclusive focus on the command line. This is an administration book, after all.

“So, which book is better?”

Hmm. I cannot say for sure because that is like asking “Which pole on a magnet is better?” Just as two poles create a full magnet, these two books create a better understanding of Linux, each in its own way. However, I personally liked this book better out of the two and found myself using it as a reference more often than the Linux+ book.

“Which book should I read first?”

Either one is fine since each describes a different side of the same coin beginning at the same introductory level. Personally, I would recommend reading the Linux+ book first (2nd or 3rd edition, it does not matter), and then progress to The Complete Guide to Linux System Administration since that was the path I took.

“Will this book help me pass the Linux+ certification exams?”

Yes, it will. Many of the exam objectives are covered, but I would not rely upon it as the sole source of exam study material. If you are limited to choosing only one book to study for the Linux+ exams, then I would suggest the Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification since that book is geared more for the exams. The Complete Guide to Linux System Administration will also help, but its focus is more about Linux administration from he command line rather than passing an exam. However, it will add to your knowledge needed to pass the exams by covering material not found or only skimmed over in the Linux+ book.


If you already have the Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification and your goal is to pass the CompTIA Linux+ exam, then this book will help a little but not enough to justify its cost.

However, if you enjoy Linux and want a more thorough understanding of the topics that were only touched upon in the Linux+ book, then The Complete Guide to Linux System Administration is an excellent continuation.


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