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4. Book Structure

This book has its origins in French publisher Eyrolles' “Administrator's Handbook” collection, and keeps the same approach of revolving around a case study providing both support and illustration for all topics being addressed.
Chapter 1 focuses on a non-technical presentation of the Debian project and describes its goals and organization. These aspects are important because they define a general framework that others chapters will complete with more concrete information.
Chapters 2 and 3 provide a broad outline of the case study. At this point, novice readers can take the time to read appendix B, where they will find a short remedial course explaining a number of basic computing notions, as well as concepts inherent to any Unix system.
To get on with our real subject matter, we will quite naturally start with the installation process (chapter 4); chapters 5 and 6 will unveil basic tools that any Debian administrator will use, such as those of the APT family, which is largely responsible for the distribution's excellent reputation. These chapters are in no way reserved to professionals, since everyone is their own administrator at home.
Chapter 7 will be an important parenthesis; it describes workflows to efficiently use documentation and to quickly gain an understanding of problems in order to solve them.
The next chapters will be a more detailed tour of the system, starting with basic infrastructure and services (chapters 8 to 10) and going progressively up the stack to reach the user applications in chapter 13. Chapter 12 deals with more advanced subjects that will most directly concern administrators of large sets of computers (including servers), while chapter 14 is a brief introduction to the wider subject of computer security and gives a few keys to avoid most problems.
Chapter 15 is for administrators who want to go further and create their own Debian packages.
The present version is the first written primarily for English, and the second one available in English; the previous one was based on the fifth edition of the French book. This edition covers version 7 of Debian, code-named Wheezy. Among the changes, Debian now sports two new architectures — s390x as a replacement for s390, for IBM System Z mainframe computers, and armhf for ARM processors with a hardware floating point arithmetic unit. Speaking of architectures, Debian's package manager is now multi-architecture, and can handle installation of different architectures of the same package at the same time. All included packages have obviously been updated, including the GNOME desktop, which is now included in its version 3.4.
We have added some notes and remarks in sidebars. They have a variety of roles: they can draw attention to a difficult point, complete a notion of the case study, define some terms, or serve as reminders. Here is a list of the most common of these sidebars: