7 Free, Open Source Tomes For Your Edification

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 16, 2010

While the actual manuals and documentation you get with many open source applications and platforms can be underwhelming, the good news is that there are a lot of free, online books on open source topics available. We round these up on a regular basis here at OStatic, and in this post you'll find seven 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.

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).

For many more free manuals and guides to open source applications, and platforms, see FLOSS Manuals' other offerings.