This tutorial focuses on the best Linux books that you should read to become a professional system administrator.
First released in September 1991, the Linux kernel was designed with home PCs in mind.
Since then, Linux has become a go-to operating system for much larger platforms, such as servers, supercomputers, and cloud computing, as well as the small, handy devices we keep on our persons at all times; smartphones.
Needless to say, the Linux kernel is a versatile, open source operating system, or OS, worth looking into.
Unfortunately, acquiring the information you need to get up to speed with the OS is a decent challenge.
There are loads of Linux books on the market today, covering a wide range of skill levels, many of which may not suit your unique situation.
Add to this the fact that Linux tips and tricks are discovered all the time, and it is easy to find yourself a bit overwhelmed when trying to find the right reading material for uncovering what you specifically need to know.
Fortunately, that’s where we come in.
We’ve comprised this years top 10 best Linux books, sorted from beginner to expert, in the list below.
These reviews are designed to help you determine why you would want to pick up the book in an easy-to-digest manner, so you can quickly hone in on which is the best for you.
1 – Linux For Beginners by Jason Cannon
If referring to Linux as a kernel or mentioning “open source” caused a bit of confusion earlier, this may be the book for you.
The author, Jason Cannon, wrote the book specifically for individuals looking to get into programming with Linux.
As in, no assumptions are made about what the reader does, or does not know. Everything is outlined in meticulous detail as to ensure each lesson is fervently cemented into the readers mind.
To give you an idea of what to anticipate, each programming or networking word the author introduces the reader to is thoroughly explained in laymen’s terms, without being too dry or boring.
Due to the painstaking care Cannon put into composing this, Linux for Beginners is highly recommended for anyone seeking to get started learning the ins and outs of the kernel.
That said, the following is a small glimpse of what you will know more about after reading this book.
- Determining Which Linux Distribution is Best for You
- Set Up Process for Running Linux
- Accessing the Linux Server
- Network Protocols
- Secure Shell, or SSH, a Commonly Used Cryptographic Network Protocol
- How to Use SSH
- Why You Want to Use SSH
- Navigating the Command Line
- Accessing Files, Programs, and More via the Command Line
- Updating Computer Contents via the Command Line
- Comparing and Searching for Files
- File Compression
- How to Read Error Messages
- Overview of Linux User Permissions
- Coding via an Editor
- Review and Implementation of Pipes
- Directing Data Traffic
- Getting the Most Out of a Shell Prompt
- Scheduling Jobs Automatically via Cron
- Switching Between Users to Run Processes
If all of that seems like a bit much, fret not!
Cannon does an excellent job of walking readers through what everything is from start to finish.
Due to this, Linux for Beginners is one of the best Linux books available to-date.
Looking to get started with Linux? Here's how to get Linux for Beginners
2 – The Linux Command Line : A Complete Introduction by William Shotts
Sometimes, reading a sentence more than once helps the reader fully grasp the message being relayed.
Taking this fact into consideration, we are including this book in our list.
See, The Linux Command Line covers a decent portion of the content covered in Linux for Beginners, plus a few extra nuggets of gold.
These additional pieces of information combined with a refresher course is an idle way for readers to better memorize what they know and improve upon that knowledge by understanding how the new details fit together.
For example, readers with Linux already set up can follow along as the author, William Shotts, provides step-by-step examples of how to write complete programs in Bash. As well as what Bash actually is. In addition, readers will be able to conduct the following after completing the book.
- Perfect File Navigation
- Configuring Environments for Various Tasks
- Chaining Commands
- Using Regular Expressions to Find Patterns
- Understand and Implement Symbolic Links, or symlinks
- Networking Protocols
- Managing Processes
As an added bonus, Shotts runs the website LinuxCommand.org.
In case you are not familiar, this website is dedicated to sharing all of the latest Linux news, including unique shortcuts programmers in the field discovered recently. Shotts compiles this information into a user-friendly book on occasion, when sufficient novel data is unearthed.
Looking to learn the Linux Command Line? Click here to get your copy.
3 – Linux Pocket Guide : Essential Commands by Daniel J. Barrett
As a long-time programmer, I will be the first to admit how often I have to look up a function, shortcut, or command.
Which should come as no surprise.
There is a lot of information to remember when it comes to programming or even network management, regardless of how you are using Linux. That said, if you find yourself having issues with using searching for commands, be it time lost or unable to find what you are looking for in general, this book may be your saving grace.
Inside the covers of Linux Pocket Guide is a wealth of information you may find yourself forgetting from time to time, such as the following.
- Processing Image and Audio Files
- Running or Ending Programs
- Reading as well as Modifying Items Stored in Clipboard
- Altering PDF files
- Backup Data
- Remote Storage Operations
- Account Management
- Fulfilling the Role of Superuser
- Over seeing Network Traffic
As you can probably tell from the topics covered, the Linux Pocket Guide is ideal for intermediate Linux users and experts alike. Pick this item up along with any of your other favorite Linux books to ensure all your information bases are covered.
If you want to acquire a Linux pocket guide that you can take with you anywhere, here is how to get the book.
4 – Linux Network Administration Guide by Tony Bautts
Attention hopeful Network Administrators, this is one of the best Linux books to start out with!
As the book title implies, readers can gain valuable insights into the management of network environment, even if there is more than one tier involved. This includes a review of basic infrastructure, as well as an in-depth look at the list of topics below.
- Spam Filtering
- Wireless Hubs
Although this book originally came out in 2005, the data is available online for free and provides a solid foundation for readers to effortlessly expand their knowledge on. Due to this, those hoping to get into network administration may increase their occupation potential by starting here, rather than with other Linux books.
Looking to understand more about Linux network administration? Click the link to get the book.
5 – How Linux Works, 2nd Edition by Brian Ward
As we mentioned above, the Linux Kernel is open source and if you know how to work this operating system, you can conduct a wide arrange of objectives on your machine.
Attaining this level of complete control over your computer makes it possible for users, or at this point superusers, to do whatever your heart desires, as long as you know how to go about doing it.
If that sounds like heaven to you, pick up How Linux Works.
This book goes over every aspect of what Linux does from booting up to shutting down and everything in between. Highlights readers will learn about include:
- Key Kernel Tasks
- How Input and Output Flow is Managed via User Interface
- Using Development Tools
How Linux Works even provides examples you can test and use in the real-world when you encounter a difficult challenge you have never seen before, which is why it is one of the best Linux books out there.
Looking to become a super user on Linux systems? This is definitely the book you should read.
6 – Linux Bible by Christopher Negus
Contained within the jacket of this book is essentially everything you need to know about the latest versions of Red Hat, Fedora, and Ubuntu.
The author, Christopher Negus, consolidated his 25 years of Red Hat, Inc. experience into a book worthy of being dubbed the Linux Bible.
By the time readers finish reading all 912 pages, they will be ready to take on enterprise-level systems challenges, including but not limited to:
- Securing Linux Operations
- Troubleshooting Common Problems
- Creating Virtual Environments, or ENV
- Running ENVs via the Cloud
The Linux Bible also includes step-by-step examples so admins can grow confident in future applications.
Now that we are nearing the end of our list, all books mentioned below are expert level only.
Bear in mind, we are not trying to suggest novice Linux users cannot grasp the content contained within the following Linux books. Rather, we highly encourage beginner Linux users to start off with one of the other best Linux books to get better familiar with the kernel before diving into more complex subjects.
Looking to add the Linux Bible to your bookshelf? Here's how you can acquire it.
7 – Mastering Linux Security and Hardening by Donald A. Tevault
Speaking of securing Linux operations, if you are looking to beef up your server or cloud infrastructure check out Linux Security & Hardening.
The useful information readers glean from this book will help them understand how attackers manipulate the system to gain access to private data, as well as how to prevent the intruders from doing so.
Other noteworthy details include signs to look for to preemptively stop a potential attack, as well as information on the topics below.
- How to Enforce Strong Online Security
- Enhancing SSH Know-How
- Mastering Sudo Commands
- Properly Establishing a Firewall
- How to Scan Ports For Malicious Packets
The author, Donald A. Tevault is a professional Linux trainer with Level 3-Security and the GIAC Incident Handler certification.
Purchase this technical literature instead of any of the other Linux books if you are ready to protect intellectual assets online.
If you want to make your Linux servers more secure, this is probably the book you should read.
8 – Mastering Linux Network Administration by Jay LaCroix
Designed with expert network administrators in mind, the book, Mastering Linux Network Administration, is an absolute must-have.
Jay LaCroix, the author, guides the expert network administration through enterprise level issues, both why they occur and how to solve them.
To accomplish this, LaCroix provides well-thought out activities readers can conduct to see the issue created, then solved, in real time.
Although the systems covered only include CentOS 7 and Debian 8, the valuable information network administrators come away with will help them completely master designing, deploying, and administrating enterprise level Linux networks.
This is feat is primarily due to the gracious break down of monitoring, troubleshooting, structure, and command LaCroix strategically addresses.
If you are looking to get better at managing networks, here's how you can get your copy
9 – Pro Linux High Availability Clustering by Sander van Vugt
Overtime, a Linux network can grow to mass proportions.
As a result, resources needed to compute basic commands can become scarce.
Although this can be due to a variety of reasons, Pro Linux High Availability Clustering can likely help you identify the reason behind the lag and improve overall performance.
As an added bonus, this solution based guide reviews component clustering across most Linux-based platforms, making it a universal tool worthy of being picked up. Plus, everything is explained in a clear, easy-to-digest manner, if you are already a Linux expert.
A general overview of topics include:
- Enterprise-level Apache Configuration
- How to Create an Open Source SAN for Clustering
- Implementing Load-Balanced Web Server Cluster
- Configuring Database for High-Availability
- Utilizing KVM Virtualization
- Ensuring Virtual Environment is Adequately protected
Bear in mind, many of the subjects mentioned above can be used in Machine Learning, which is only going to get more popular as time goes on. Due to this, Pro Linux High Availability Clustering is one of the best Linux books out there for experts.
Getting Pro Linux High Availability Clustering is definitely a good idea if you plan on getting more knowledge about Linux clusters.
10 – Mastering Linux Shell Scripting by Mokhtar Ebrahim
As an expert, you likely know how Linux and Python are related.
That said, this is one of those Linux books that utilizes this insider knowledge to help you master Linux in more ways than one.
Readers that opt to pick up this book are going to come away with solid shell scripting knowledge, such as how to manage complex programs behind the scenes and automating repetitive tasks on the fly. Content includes very beneficial one liner commands, as well as the following.
- Solving Complex Issues via Shell
- Using sysadmin Tools to Your Advantage
- How to Deploy Well Thought Out Automated Tasks
- Variety of Debug Tips
- Pros and Cons of Scripting With Perl vs Python
- Evaluate Command Order
- Create Virtual Environments on the Fly for Web Configuration Testing
- Navigating AWK, a Language Used Only in Domains
- Writing Log Files
- How to Reduce Maintenance Time
- Ways to Decrease Build Duration
Needless to say, out of all the other Linux books we mentioned in our list, Mastering Linux Shell Scripting is the optimal choice for experts to pick up this year.
If you are curious on how to level up your scripting skills, this is the book you should read.
As I repeat it in many of my articles, there is a time for theory and a time for practice.
As a system administrator, you have to practice a lot in order to get efficient at what you are doing.
Even if you may choose to order some of those books, you have to install your own distribution in order to launch the commands by yourself.
For that, I would recommend starting with one of those tutorials in order to get started with Linux :
- How To Install and Configure CentOS 8 with GNOME
- How To Install and Configure Debian 10 Buster with GNOME
As always, we have a complete section on Linux administration on the website, so make sure to check it to get more information on the subject.