Microsoft continues to lose market share, and more people have gotten interested in Linux alternatives, dramatically driving distros like Ubuntu to prominence (well, as far as Linux gets anyway). So let’s say you have an interest in trying out this silly Ubuntu thing, where do I recommend you start?
First of all, download and install Ubuntu 8.04 (?), which is the latest long-term support release. This means: it’ll be good for 3 years or longer. Don’t dual-boot unless you absolutely need to do something on Windows and don’t have extra systems. The most well-meaning people will still gravitate over and just keep using Windows. Go all in if you can and make it your primary system and OS!
I’m all for books, so for newbie Linux users I’d recommend a newbie book: Ubuntu for Non-Geeks: A Pain-Free, Project-Based, Get-Things-Done Guidebook from No Starch. Even for Windows-savvy geeks, there are many basic things in Linux that need to be understood to move on. I have not read this book, but it looks promising!
Avoid books that are just search-and-replace Linux books like the Unleashed series or the Beginning Ubuntu Linux or the Ubuntu Bible. These are just books that come out in all the major flavors of Linux and search-and-replace based on the distro (yes, I bought one or two and can point out where Yum didn’t get properly replaced with Synaptic…). They may be useful, but I feel dirty being used that like.
If you have some (even minor) Linux experience, graduate to better books that are more task/tip oriented like Ubuntu Kung Fu (I am currently reading this excellent book) or Ubuntu Hacks. Ubuntu Hacks has several workarounds for various things, which means not only does it get outdated quickly, it is in fact already outdated, but it might hold some interesting nuggets that help in the world of Ubuntu.
And once you have your feet wet with Linux and you’re moving about with relative grace, you can dive into the more generic Linux “get things done” books like Linux Cookbook or A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming or Linux Networking Cookbook.