OK, I've had a bit of time to go through it properly now.
Like the poster above, I have fond memories of the manuals for early eighties British computers, especially (in my case) the ones for the ZX81, ZX Spectrum and the BBC B user guide, and part of me does wish that the Raspberry Pi User guide was just a line-by -line conversion to Raspberry Pi of one of those classic manuals - it doesn't quite have the same feel.
There are a small number of non-fatal errors (by which I mean: Errors which won't actually stop the book from working). Maybe these can be corrected for future print runs, and presumably more quickly in the ebook version.
P33, 2nd last paragraph, "Thist tool"
P178, Last paragraph, "Downloaded". Word intended: "Download".
P182, 2nd last paragraph, "Resister".
I'm sure there will be others, but at least, from these observations, you can tell that I really have read the book. I haven't typo-tested any of the programme listings yet, though.
One impression I have is that there is a lot in the book which is already out of date or needs to be amended. If it had been finalised a few days ago instead of three months ago, some sections would be very different.
For example, there is absolutely no mention (that I have been able to find) of Raspbian, which is now the recommended Pi Distro and probably the best Pi-tuned distro there is. Instead, the book assumes that you most likely chose Debian, although it doesn't force you to. This is not too much of a problem since Raspbian is virtually the same as Debian from the user's point of view.
The book makes reference to the Polyfuses on the USB ports and the trouble they may potentially cause if the user tries to draw too much power through them -in the next print revision / current ebook version this obviously needs to be spoken of as an issue mainly affecting early boards only, since later ones have had the polyfuses removed. There is no reference to the revision 2 at all, to the extent that the section on hardware / GPIO has a nice diagram of the pinout of the revision 1 GPIO header, and that's all. Again, this needs to be expanded to include the pinouts for rev 2 boards in the next print run.
A section on supply / availability of Pis themselves is now somewhat out of date as it still quotes RS and Farnell/Element14 as the sole places from which to buy a Pi - no longer the case, with (In the UK) CPC and shortly Maplin selling them as well. We can probably assume that from now on, the number of sellers will expand beyond any printed book's ability to keep track of them. It was probably a mistake to include a specific statement about the state of the supply chain, given that it was bound to change almost as soon as the words were written.
From the beginning, the book suffers from having to generalise because it isn't absolutely assumed that the user will choose any particular distro - so at the point where the absolute beginner really needs to have specific step by step instructions on what to do, the book has to talk rather vaguely about the user choosing their 'desired' distro from those available, without really discussing the pros or cons of one distro or another. This problem won't go away until every Pi comes preloaded with the same distro, does exactly the same thing after boot-up and ends up at the same prompt or on the same desktop at switch-on. Until then, every Raspberry Pi guide ever written will have to be annoyingly vague in places - the very places where brand new users need them to be specific.
From all of the above you might be thinking that I don't really like the book. Not so - the next, updated and mildly corrected edition of this book will be a must-have.
Where the book can be specific, it is very good, with a lot of good information about configuring / connecting the Pi. Did you know, for example, that the ethernet port doesn't care which kind of cable (straight through or crossover) you use to connect it to other ethernet devices? It automatically sets itself to suit the cable used. I haven't seen that info anywhere else. There's a sizeable appendix at the back detailing all the different HDMI modes which can be set in config.txt, and other settings which can be set in config.txt - such as those used for overclocking - are comprehensively covered.
The section on networking contains invaluable information about setting up and using ethernet, USB ethernet (for the Model A) and wireless network connections - for Linux newbies like me this section is a godsend because we get all the commands like 'Ifup' and 'ifdown', etc, explained and grouped together in a helpful and meaningful way. There's a similar section on disk partitioning and mounting, explained properly and not in the baffling, cryptic shorthand often encountered on forums populated by folks who haven't thought in any language but Linux for at least 20 years.
There's a section on using the Pi as a media centre (and here, it does focus on just one of the alternatives, namely RaspBMC). This is the kind of approach that new users need - all that needs to be added to the end of this section is that alternatives are available, see Xbian, OpenELEC, and so on.
Another section deals with productivity, covering both cloud based and locally situated Office type suites - using the Pi for that sort of thing isn't such a mad idea - recent editions of The Magpi have, as far as I know, been produced entirely on Pis. Gimp (Linux's answer to Photoshop) is also covered. There's no mention of music authoring or sequencing, or sound / music generation.
Programming covers Scratch and Python, the former to write a rudimentary game which includes collision detection, the latter gets as far as using elements of Pygame and (crossing over into the hardware section) use of the GPIO ports via the GPIO library. 'C' is not ventured into at all, unless I missed it, and neither is bare metal programming - both arguably subjects destined for 'The Advanced Raspberry Pi User Guide'.
Using the Pi as a web server is also covered, and this is something about which I would have no idea how to proceed were it not for the information presented in this section.
In the hardware section, subjects like soldering, using breadboard and transferring a working design to stripboard to make it more permanent are covered. Actual electronics is kept to the bare minimum (transistors are mentioned only once, in a note that they would be needed to drive anything which would demand a higher current than the GPIO port can supply - but this is not expanded upon). Against this, there is a surprisingly thorough explanation of how to work out the right series resistor for a given LED. Given the extremely basic level at which everything else in this section is pitched, it would have been sufficient just to suggest typical resistor values for use with (1) a green LED and (2) a red LED when being powered from 3.3V.
Finally, the hardware section goes on to discuss the availability of third party add-ons like Slice Of Pi, The Gertboard and Adafruit's similar offerings, although it doesn't say anything specific about how to use the hardware (especially the ATmega) on the Gertboard - but that would generate enough material to fill another book just by itself.
To summarise, this is a good book: But by the time the next edition comes out the hardware and distro situation should be a lot less dynamic and more settled, and the (hopefully updated) version of this book should then be able to be more accurate initially, and remain so for longer.
Last edited by SiriusHardware
on Wed Jul 17, 2013 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.