OStatic's Updated Collection of Free Books on Open Source Topics

by Ostatic Staff - Jun. 22, 2012

Ask many people--including CIOs who are wary of allowing open source software in their organizations--about the manuals and documentation you get with many open source applications, and they'll say that these guides leave a lot to be desired. There are, however, 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 in an instant. 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.

Tufts University Free Course on Blender. This free, online course 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 course here. Components and lessons are designed with lots of examples focused. The extensive course is also very graphical, and includes instruction on complex animations.

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. 

Ramesh Natarajan is giving out free copies of his ebook, Linux 101 Hacks. Though it targets a farily experienced audience, it is a handy reference for those common command line tasks that arise every so often -- but not often enough that you completely recall how to do them.

While it's not free, note that Natarajan also has a Vim 101 Hacks ebook available, filled with useful tweaks for the popular Vim editor.

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.