Ubuntu Hacks
Tips & Tools for Exploring, Using, and Tuning Linux
Publisher: O'Reilly Media
Final Release Date: June 2006
Pages: 450

Ubuntu Linux--the most popular Linux distribution on the planet--preserves the spirit embodied in the ancient African word ubuntu, which means both "humanity to others" and "I am what I am because of who we all are." Ubuntu won the Linux Journal Reader's Choice Award for best Linux distribution and is consistently the top-ranked Linux variant on DistroWatch.com. The reason this distribution is so widely popular is that Ubuntu is designed to be useful, usable, customizable, and always available for free worldwide.

Ubuntu Hacks is your one-stop source for all of the community knowledge you need to get the most out of Ubuntu: a collection of 100 tips and tools to help new and experienced Linux users install, configure, and customize Ubuntu. With this set of hacks, you can get Ubuntu Linux working exactly the way you need it to. Learn how to:

  • Install and test-drive Ubuntu Linux.
  • Keep your system running smoothly
  • Turn Ubuntu into a multimedia powerhouse: rip and burn discs, watch videos, listen to music, and more
  • Take Ubuntu on the road with Wi-Fi wireless networking, Bluetooth, etc.
  • Hook up multiple displays and enable your video card's 3-D acceleration
  • Run Ubuntu with virtualization technology such as Xen and VMware
  • Tighten your system's security
  • Set up an Ubuntu-powered server

Ubuntu Hacks will not only show you how to get everything working just right, you will also have a great time doing it as you explore the powerful features lurking within Ubuntu.

"Put in a nutshell, this book is a collection of around 100 tips and tricks which the authors choose to call hacks, which explain how to accomplish various tasks in Ubuntu Linux. The so called hacks range from down right ordinary to the other end of the spectrum of doing specialised things...More over, each and every tip in this book has been tested by the authors on the latest version of Ubuntu (Dapper Drake) and is guaranteed to work. In writing this book, it is clear that the authors have put in a lot of hard work in covering all facets of configuring this popular Linux distribution which makes this book a worth while buy."
-- Ravi Kumar, Slashdot.org

Table of Contents
Product Details
About the Author
Recommended for You
Customer Reviews


by PowerReviews
oreillyUbuntu Hacks

(based on 7 reviews)

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Reviewed by 7 customers

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(2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


Needs update!

By Stevegingercat

from Melbourne Austraila

About Me Sys Admin



    • Needs Update

    Best Uses

      Comments about oreilly Ubuntu Hacks:

      Contents page looked ok then I purchased it and started reading it

      Seriously guys
      This book needs an up date - lots of this looks pre ubuntu 12

      could do better!

      (6 of 6 customers found this review helpful)


      Ubuntu hacks = Linux hacks

      By deserthowler

      from Undisclosed

      Comments about oreilly Ubuntu Hacks:

      A few months ago I wrote a detailed review of Ubuntu Hacks for the Tucson Computer Society. At this time, I thought there were several interesting tips and I rated the potential use of this book very highly. The tips I tried well written and worked ... a good combination!!

      Since this time, I switched from Kubuntu to Ubuntu. I also began using Debian Etch seriously. I find the book very useful for both Ubuntu and Debian.

      Most hacks applied to Linux in general so, besides becoming a Ubuntu reference, it is a general Linux reference. One thing I find helpful is the author's use and explanation of apt-get and the fact that, besides showing the command, he shows the on-screen results of the command.

      From installation through downloading and installing packages from source through adding repositories, everything I've tried works. There isn't much more I can say about the book than that.

      I like the author's style very much.

      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


      Ubuntu Hacks

      By Alan German

      from Undisclosed

      Comments about oreilly Ubuntu Hacks:

      Ubuntu Hacks

      A book review by Alan German

      Ottawa PC Users' Group (http://opcug.ca)

      The sub-title of this book is "Tips & Tools for Exploring, Using, and Tuning Linux" which turns out to be appropriate on a number of fronts. Some of the initial "hacks", notably Hack #1 _ Test-Drive Ubuntu and Hack #5 _ Install Ubuntu, aren't hacks at all, but rather are straightforward instructions on getting started with (i.e. exploring and using) Ubuntu Linux. But, despite that minor quibble, the book does contain lots of good information and advice for Ubuntu users, and really does have some interesting hacks.

      As with all the books in the "Hacks" series from O'Reilly, there are just too many individual items between the end covers - 100 hacks in all - to be able to do justice to them in a short review article. Consequently, I will have to settle for providing an outline of the available material, and reserve my detailed comments for a few favourite tips and techniques.

      The book consists of ten chapters, commencing, as noted above, with tips on getting started with Ubuntu; moving rapidly to tweaking the desktop, using multi-media applications, configuring laptops and input/output devices; through package management, security issues and administrative functions; to the intricacies of running virtual machines and configuring a variety of Linux-based servers.

      Even users with some prior familiarity with Ubuntu shouldn't discount the initial series of hacks for "getting started". These include instructions on how to customize the Ubuntu Live CD (Hack #4), moving Windows data and settings to Ubuntu (Hack #7), and installing Ubuntu on an external USB drive (Hack #10).

      Hack #19 _ Search Your Computer looks interesting as it describes the use of a utility program called Beagle to index and search (a la Google Desktop) files, E-mail messages, and so forth for specified items of interest. The program is said to be a huge improvement on the Find File command in the Nautilus file manager and so should be a worthwhile addition to the base Ubuntu system. Similarly, the CUPS-PDF utility (Hack #26) provides the very useful feature of being able to create a PDF file from any application with a print command.

      Should you need to rip tracks from an audio CD, you might find Grip (Hack #32) to be a useful tool. Did you know that you can burn CD's and DVD's using Nautilus? If not, check out Hack #33. Need to extend the time that you can run your laptop on battery power? Hack #40 will tell you how to throttle back the speed of your CPU, dim your display, and slow down your hard drive's rotation speed, all to save power. There are also lots of tips on wireless networking, keyboards, mice and touchpads, and even how to hook up multiple displays.

      Chapter 6 covers the gamut of software installation using package managers and should be extremely useful for new Ubuntu users. If, like me, your modus operandi is to read instructions, help files, and manuals as a last resort, it may take a while before you discover the extensive world of applications software outside of the Ubuntu CD. So, take my advice - do yourself a favour, sit down and read this section of the book. All of the neat applications described so far, and a whole raft of other software products, are available through the judicious use of a package manager. You will learn how to use apt-get on the command line or, more likely, how to download and install applications through the use of the Synaptic (under Gnome) or Adept (under KDE) graphical package managers. Another useful tip (Hack #60) shows how to add software repositories, such as universe, to the list accessed by your preferred package manager.

      One remarkable (to me) tip is buried as part of Hack #54 - Manage packages from the command line. While I am content to use the graphical interface provided by Synaptic for package management, the subject tip involves creating shortcuts for Linux commands by adding lines (i.e. individual commands) to ~/.bashrc. Now, the latter is not described any further, but the form of the commands listed (alias agi='sudo apt-get install') suggests that this is a means of storing a short text string that will be interpreted as the specified command. So, now all I need is a long command string that I will use frequently in a Terminal window.

      Information on a number of security issues is available, including the use of sudo to run commands as root, modifying user permissions, the use of Firewall Builder to define firewall functionality, file encryption utilities to keep data secure, and ClamAV to fight viruses (in files shared with Windows of course!) Some useful administrative functions covered by the book include editing configuration files, mounting filesystems (e.g. disk partitions), and synchronizing files between two folders and/or devices using the Unison utility program.

      My favourite technique in the whole book is Hack #45 - Make videos of your tech-support questions. This involves the use of a utility called Istanbul to record a series of actions, and their results, as a video file. The suggestion is that a new user (your "Uncle Gussy") could send such a video to a more experienced Ubuntu user (his nephew!) who would then troubleshoot a problem remotely and provide the correct operating procedure.

      The final two chapters of the book are perhaps the most esoteric. Chapter 9 - Visualization and Emulation - provides tips on running Windows' applications under WINE. I wasn't sure why anyone would want to do this. It seems to me that there is an equivalent, more than adequate, open-source program for just about any Windows' software one cares to name. However, the book's author suggests that the main use may be to run Windows-based games on Linux boxes, which I suppose makes sense.

      Actually, there is one tip that makes the whole book really worthwhile to me personally. Hack #88 - Play Windows Games includes a section titled "Run Blasts from the Past" and details how to run DOS programs using the DOSBox utility. I happen to have a custom database program that runs under DOS, an application that I use frequently, and find that it works flawlessly under DOSBox's shell.

      The visualization section of the book will also help you to run Ubuntu inside Windows (hard to believe one can do so!) and to setup virtual machines. The final chapter - Small Office/Home Office Server - provides lots of advice on setting up Ubuntu-based file servers, web servers, mail servers, proxy servers, DHCP servers, and domain name servers - some of which I never knew existed!

      So, don't get put off by the seemingly simplistic nature of the first few "hacks" on getting started with Ubuntu. The book has great tips and techniques that should appeal to just about every Ubuntu Linux user, whatever their level of knowledge and expertise with this operating system and its applications.

      Bottom Line

      Ubuntu Hacks - Tips & Tools for Exploring, Using, and Tuning Linux

      Jonathan Oxer, Kyle Rankin and Bill Childers

      First Edition June 2006

      ISBN-10 0-596-52720-9


      About the reviewer:

      Alan German is a member of the Board of Directors of the Ottawa PC User's Group, based in the capital of the Great White North. To read more of his personal trials and tribulations (mainly with conflicts between Windows and Linux), and a few successes with various flavours of Linux, including Ubuntu, see the series of articles "Exploring Linux" at:


      (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)


      Nice Book

      By R73

      from Undisclosed

      Comments about oreilly Ubuntu Hacks:

      I purchased this book as a rough-cuts version, and have been with it through the final release. Ubuntu Hacks is complete with some great information on how to give Windows the boot with a more than suitable alternative. The book is geared more toward desktop users than would-be server admins. The final chapter does walk one through setting up Samba as a BDC for a small network.

      The only hang-up I found was in a section regarding installing software from source code. Generic instructions provided, do not cover the common errors that occur during this operation.

      Great text! Highly recommended...

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


      The best collection of tips for GNU/Linux.

      By Anonymous

      from Undisclosed

      Comments about oreilly Ubuntu Hacks:

      I've just gotten the disks from Ubuntu and needed this text to go along. O'Reilly is getting to be rather good with the editing for functional content.

      :-P However, I do save a $5 by buying the book from amazon.com than from here :-P

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


      The best collection of tips for GNU/Linux.

      By Mugara, Macintosh User Group Aragon

      from Spain

      Comments about oreilly Ubuntu Hacks:

      Ubuntu Hacks

      A book with quick tips and short Howto's

      The best collection of tips for GNU/Linux.

      Ubuntu is a distro that is easy to obtain and install, but most of the hacks in this book can be applied to any GNU/Linux installation.

      There are immediate fixes and solutions for the usual problems encountered by home and business users, whether they come from Windowsor Mac. For example, there are solutions for the use of wireless devices, input-output devices, PDA, 's (Palm or WindowsMobile), as well as sections on what to do if something goes wrong.

      There is continuity between the chapters, which allows the user to learn gradually about "hacking" the system. It, 's not just a "list of tips from A to Z".

      There are chapters devoted to security and the use of multimedia no only reproducing multimedia elements, but also creating and editing them.

      In short, if your problem has happened to someone, this book has the solution.

      (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)


      Excellent book!

      By John Austin

      from Undisclosed

      Comments about oreilly Ubuntu Hacks:

      If you are new to linux in general or just Ubuntu this is definately the book for you! Easy to follow instruction and wording designed for the first time user as well as the seasoned professional!

      Included both Intel and PPC information which is extremely helpful for those just installing Ubuntu for the first time!

      Book covers everything you need to get Linux up and running and working the way you want it to! (Install, customizing, setting up networking and printing, etc)

      John Austin

      Duluth Linux Users Group, Duluth, MN

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