Nine Free Manuals for Popular Open Source Projects

by Sam Dean - Jul. 21, 2011Comments (0)

Although the actual documentation you get with many open source applications and platforms can feel paltry compared to what you get with proprietary alternatives, many book authors have served up free, online books on open source topics. We round these up on a regular basis here at OStatic, and in this post you'll find our updated collection of online books that you can get comfortable with quickly. They introduce essential concepts for getting started with Linux, Firefox, Blender (3D graphics and animation), GIMP (graphics), the OpenOffice suite of productivity applications, and more.

We recently covered the efforts from the folks at FLOSS Manuals in this area, and here is an updated collection of free books on open source topics that you should find very useful.

Test Driving Linux: From Windows to Linux in 60 Seconds.  Many Windows users are either switching to Linux altogether or running it with Windows, and this guide provides a good bridge for Windows users to get comfortable with Linux. It includes solutions to common problems that Windows users may run into when adopting Linux, and also shows how to set up and work with applications ranging from mail to productivity apps.

Introduction to the Command Line. This free eBook from Nicholas Marsh sells for $16.50 in its print version, and offers up guidance on Linux and Unix commands. Paired with the title below, it can be a good start for anyone interested in diving into Linux.

Introduction to Linux: A Hands-On Guide. This free introduction to Linux from Machtelt Garrels consists of a set of online chapters that start with very rudimentary lessons on basic installation of various distros, files and file systems, and more, then it advances to discussion of networking, working with sound and video, and other topics.

Introduction to Firefox. The Firefox browser is beloved for its extensibility, facility with tabbed browsing, and much more. FLOSS Manuals offers this free book that starts with absolute basics such as how to bookmark sites, and moves on to working skillfully with extensions.

Blender Basics: Third Edition. This free, online book presents an introduction and a set of step-by-step lessons for working with Blender, a widely used open source 3D graphics and animation application. We discussed the book's second edition here.

Grokking the GIMP. GIMP is perennially one of the most popular open source graphics applications, and this is a comprehensive book on it filled with visual lessons. The book takes you through layers, filters, resizing tips, masks, blending colors, case studies and way more than that.

Introduction to OpenOffice. This miniature manual from FLOSS Manuals packs more of a punch than is apparent at first glance. It goes through all the productivity applications in the popular OpenOffice suite of applications, and provides screenshots with annotations showing how most of the important features work.

Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution. This is an excellent guide to the culture and practices of open source developers. Eric Raymond, author of The Cathedral and the Bazaar, has an illuminating chapter, as do many other open source notables.

Asterisk: The Future of Telephony. Asterisk is recognized as one of the most powerful of all open source telephony platforms. It can transform any computer into a powerful voice server, and even function as a PBX-replacement for many types of businesses. O'Reilly offers an excellent, free online guide to it (PDF).



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