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Installing Linux on a Dead Badger (Book Review)

By Ben Okopnik

ILOADB.RVW 20080229
%A   Lucy A. Snyder
%C   Richmond, BC V6Y 3V1 Canada
%D   October 2007
%G   ISBN-10: 1-894953-47-9
%G   ISBN-13: 978-1-894953-47-4
%I   Creative Guy Publishing
%O   http://www.creativeguypublishing.com
%P   110 pages
%T   "Installing Linux On A Dead Badger (And Other Oddities)"

This book started its life, as many things do these days, as a page on the Web; the consequent Slashdotting convinced the author to "go public" by adding more material in a similar vein and releasing it as a real-life, "dead-tree" version. The resulting pages are aswarm with dead animals, zombies, vampires, faery cats, pixies, trolls, greasemonkey computer gurus, and drugged-out frat boys (who, I suspect, qualified as fitting matter due to being brain-dead.) As a friend of mine would say, "it's a real hoot!"

There's a lot of good, geeky (can I say "down to earth"? How about "deadpan"? Can I, please? Oh, thank you) humor and fun packed into this little booklet - but it's not quite as smooth as an oleaginous eulogy for a deceased specimen of meles meles of the well-known Mustelidae family (sorry... I've been playing a lot of Scrabble lately.) Of the dozen chapters in the book, perhaps two-thirds are wickedly funny, creative, and demonstrate that the author's imagination should be locked in a maximum-security prison when it's not being carefully supervised. As for the rest... well, the editors clearly wanted to hit a certain minimum number of pages and were unwilling to clip anything, no matter how repetitive. In fact, even the good chapters - pretty much all of them - suffer from the same problem on a smaller scale: the funny bits are repeated, and repeated, and repeated again until they're worn thin - and then repeated again for good measure, just to make sure that you Get It, ha-hah.

Humor, by its nature, is not a very robust creature: just a little abuse will kill it dead and beyond all hope of resurrection (no, it cannot be brought back by the techniques described in this book) - and rough usage of this sort pretty much defines that kind of abuse. That's unfortunate, because Lucy Snyder's work is witty, eloquent, and mordantly, morbidly funny underneath all the goo, gribble, and glop that nearly obscures it.

If you're one of those persnickety detail-oriented unfortunates like me, you may find the editorial misfeasance more grievous than any entertainment value possessed by the book can remedy; if so, mutter a quick "Requiem aeternum dona eis" and leave it on its shelf. On the other hand, if you have the kind of selective vision that lets you pick the one remaining good hors d'oeuvre from a large tray after a long drunken party, you may well enjoy this book for the good bits and let the other stuff go straight to /dev/null where it belongs.

Personally, I'll be watching for further output from this author - hopefully, with better editing. "Zomb(ie emp)loyees", root-compromised dead badgers, and squid-shaped alien White Knights riding to the rescue of a princess currently employed as a waitress in a diner... there's much good craziness here, and hopefully much more to come in the future.

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Ben is the Editor-in-Chief for Linux Gazette and a member of The Answer Gang.

Ben was born in Moscow, Russia in 1962. He became interested in electricity at the tender age of six, promptly demonstrated it by sticking a fork into a socket and starting a fire, and has been falling down technological mineshafts ever since. He has been working with computers since the Elder Days, when they had to be built by soldering parts onto printed circuit boards and programs had to fit into 4k of memory. He would gladly pay good money to any psychologist who can cure him of the recurrent nightmares.

His subsequent experiences include creating software in nearly a dozen languages, network and database maintenance during the approach of a hurricane, and writing articles for publications ranging from sailing magazines to technological journals. After a seven-year Atlantic/Caribbean cruise under sail and passages up and down the East coast of the US, he is currently anchored in St. Augustine, Florida. He works as a technical instructor for Sun Microsystems and a private Open Source consultant/Web developer. His current set of hobbies includes flying, yoga, martial arts, motorcycles, writing, and Roman history; his Palm Pilot is crammed full of alarms, many of which contain exclamation points.

He has been working with Linux since 1997, and credits it with his complete loss of interest in waging nuclear warfare on parts of the Pacific Northwest.

Copyright © 2008, Ben Okopnik. Released under the Open Publication License unless otherwise noted in the body of the article. Linux Gazette is not produced, sponsored, or endorsed by its prior host, SSC, Inc.

Published in Issue 148 of Linux Gazette, March 2008