Free FOSS Books: Our Latest Collection of Online Guides

by Ostatic Staff - May. 04, 2012

 Although the manuals and documentation you get with many open source applications and platforms can be beyond 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 our latest 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), and much more.

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. Chapters are designed with lots of examples focused  on "just the basics" so you can get up-and-running as quickly as possible. The book is also very graphical, as you might expect for a tome targeted at animators.

101 Best Chrome Extensions. While this isn't technically an online book, it feels like one. MakeUseOf has produced one of the best ever guides to all types of extensions for Google's popular Chrome browser. You should be using many of these.

Exhaustive Audacity Lessons.  The Audacity audio editor is a fantastic open source program for digital audio editing, podcast production and much more. The Audacity community has produced a very complete manual that can get you started, available here. You can connect a microphone or guitar and get right into the depth of the program, beginning 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.

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).

Linux Starter Pack. Whenever I talk to friends who want to stop using Microsoft Windows exclusively and branch out into Linux, I tell them to download the Linux Starter Pack. It's 130 pages of no-nonsense, targeted information specifically aimed at people who want to move from Windows to Linux. 

For many more free manuals and guides to open source applications, and platforms, see FLOSS Manuals' other offerings. You can also find many of OStatic's most popular tutorial posts on open source here.