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Being fairly new to Ubuntu Linux, I've been told how great it is to install, update and remove program using package management. But it's also possible to download programs in other ways. I don't know all the ramifications of these two approaches.

On the Windows side, some programs require installation, and others can just be run. I have a vague idea that installation involves the registry, which can contain settings and say things like "always play mp3s using me!"

I'd like to have a deeper understanding of how these two operating systems work and how they differ. Can anyone recommend a good book on the subject?


I should have said that I do some web programming and am generally an advanced user in Windows. I'd just like to know more about how things work.

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That's a tall order for one book... :-) – beggs Nov 2 '09 at 2:42

There is no such book to my knowledge. Not at least one that would give you in-depth knowledge of both operating system. It takes many books on each operating system to do such a thing, so you can imagine the size of one book that did that for both :)

In any case you do have some good reading material. Your best option is to get some of the best books around, one for each OS. To that effect, I'd probably advise:

This of course, answering your request to understand how both operating systems work.

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I would not, repeat not, advise "Understanding the Linux Kernel" for somebody who's fuzzy on installing software. I haven't read "Windows Internals", but if it's anything like what it sounds it's also thoroughly inappropriate. I don't have any good introductory Windows or Ubuntu books handy, but there are some out there. – David Thornley Nov 2 '09 at 3:56
Upvoted because the books are excellent resources, and the OP can decide if they're appropriate or not for his/her interests. – Joe Internet Nov 2 '09 at 6:29
There's also the idea that in modern computers with Virtual Machines and their snapshot feature, the act of experimentation is no longer an hassle. These books make for excellent resources for the understanding of the internals of both operating systems with any risks involved. Which is how I interpreted the original question. – A Dwarf Nov 2 '09 at 12:03

There are no books that I am aware of that cover this topic specifically. Unfortunately, most online resources are biased due to the never ending OS Wars.

This site is not exactly organized the way I would choose, but it is unbiased, and written in an easy to read style, but doesn't go into a lot of depth. It has a decent set of related links at the end. There is a wikipedia entry that covers a similar array of material.

These materials can provide some insight into why the two operating systems are different. For a deeper understanding, you have to go, well, deeper. The books recommended by A Dwarf are among the best, but you really need some programming background before they can be much use to you. Unix Internals - A Practical Approach is another unix-centric book that I would recommend.

I tried to answer this question, but your best bet may be to find two decent books - 1 on linux, the other on Windows. Then draw your own conclusions.

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