I just received a copy of Running Linux, 5th Ed. (ISBN: 0596007604) to review. So far, I think it's an improvement over 4th edition. I always preferred 3rd Edition to the 4th. Geez, what's the difference? Glad you asked. In 3th edition, the author(s) covered most aspects of the GNU/Linux operating system, independent of any specific distribution. Everything was covered from the command line, and a bit was covered over the use of X, the graphical user interface for linux.
4th edition took it a step further (too far, in my opinion). With the rise of linux's popularity, many users hopped on board and stayed with the GUI. That same crowd may have felt overwhelmed with the introduction of the command line (many users aren't used to dealing with a command line at all!). 4th Edition covered more GUI-related aspects and approached most system processes and daemons from their GUI perspective for users that could care less about the command line. I didn't feel this really helped the new user truly understand what was going on in their system.
I feel to truly use the system to its full potential, you must understand the system from the command line (after all, that's where all the action is). It seems that 5th edition has a delicate balance of the two. It covers the GUI portions of the system to get you up and going and also covers command line functions for reference once you figure out how to actually use your linux system and want to know more.
Of course, this book isn't the end-all solution for your linux needs, but it will definately get you up to speed and explain much of the system's operation to the newbie.
I cut my teeth on Running Linux I took it with me everywhere I went, when I had a moment, I was reading another page in the popular linux introduction book. For anyone wanting to "get into linux", this is the book. With 5th edition's updates for the newest developments in the linux arena, O'Reilly is sure to win over more converts to the GNU/Linux OS.
Click here to buy the new 5th Edition of Running Linux.