Bangla Writings

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'margin of margin'

Political Economy and Computing

GNU-Linux and GLT

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Composed by dd/ts, 2010.

About this Book

I believe Das's book is something entirely new in the corpus not only of GNU-Linux primers in regional languages, but of all computer-education books in all languages (well of course I have no idea whether something similar or better exists in Icelandic or Burmese, but I have seen quite a few works that are supposed to be top-of-the-line, including the O'reilly range).

Das's approach is not pedagogic and pedantic, but friendly and casual. One remarkable element of his style is that his language is never cock-sure, but continuously modifies itself under the pressure of emerging concepts. A clear example of this can be found in the way in which he re-schedules his lesson plans in many of the pre- and post-scripts found attached to the actual lessons. In a way, this is a re-working of the learning process itself, and the resulting air of informality will probably be very reassuring to the newbie reader.

This apparent haphazardness, however, does not prevent Das from being learned and thorough. He begins at the beginning - of computers. starting with Charles babbage and Ada Lovelace (with a little bit of Blaise Pascal and Von Neumann thrown in), he continues in his trademark moody-yet-methodical style down the generations till he has professed the Free Software philosophy, talked about hardware interrupts, and given his pupils the basics of bash scripting.

The book is a fine technical introduction to the intricacies of GNU-Linux, but Das refuses to be bogged down by technicalities (too common a phenomenon in books on computers), and takes every opportunity to look at the big picture. He will as soon talk about the rise of imperialism after the European renaissance being the big driving force behind the mechanisation of calculating methods, as about the auto-loading of kernel modules. And all this is blended in finely with his cocky, sometimes irreverent, brand of humour which brings the work as close to having literary value as is possible for a book on computers to have.

Most importantly, Das is ideologically motivated. He is the founder of GLT-Madhyamgram, a Free Software forum in his locality. there is hardly a paragraph in the book that doesn't reflect his support of software freedom. he is not content dealing with the 'how' of the matter, but examines the 'why' and the 'wherefore' equally deeply.

Extremely well-written and a pleasure to read, the book should be treasured by the discerning reader, and be very useful for the aspiring student. It deserves to receive the full support, financial and otherwise, of FSF-India.

(From an open mail by Tathagata Banerjee, Coordinator, FSF-I, West Bengal Chapter, to Dr. Nagarjuna, Chairman, FSF-I)

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