Best CoreOS Books From Beginner To Advanced

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Open source lovers should already know about CoreOS for its simplicity and support for other open source projects. The distro is modeled after Google’s Chrome OS and it’s one of the few systems to rely on Docker for all its containers.

But much like any Linux distro there are complications. CoreOS isn’t just another Ubuntu clone, so there’s a lot you’ll need to learn for personal or commercial use.

This post covers a few books that can help you study the fundamentals of a CoreOS setup. Regardless of your skill level or comfort with Linux I guarantee there’s enough material here to get you up and running with this incredible operating system.

Best Intro CoreOS Book

If you’re completely new to CoreOS I would highly recommend starting with CoreOS in Action. It offers 300+ pages full of great advice and practical tutorials to help you master the CoreOS environment.

Also this is one of the newest books in publication talking about CoreOS as a serious distro. I enjoy the author’s writing style and I think it can work well for teaching anyone regardless of prior experience.


CoreOS Essentials

From beginning to end this is one of the simplest CoreOS books you can own. With CoreOS Essentials you’ll get a walkthrough of the entire system learning the basic features and how the OS works.

In the beginning you’ll learn about CoreOS’ history and you’ll follow a small guide to get it setup. Then you’ll learn about containers and using Docker in a typical workflow.

I’m personally disappointed at the length of this book, only because 137 pages really isn’t that long. CoreOS has so many features and this is nothing more than a complete intro guide.

Still it’s a nice overview for anyone who already has Linux experience but wants to break into a newer environment. This book isn’t as practical with workflows and a lot of it is theory + screenshots. But if you’re just looking for a swift overview then this book does the job well.


Learning CoreOS

If you’re a complete newbie with no real Linux experience Learning CoreOS is a powerful resource. It covers all the fundamental topics of CoreOS and it teaches why the OS relies on containers for the package system.

Much of this book covers the additional features you can run on top of CoreOS. This includes Vagrant and Docker, both of which are crucial for webmasters and server admins. But the GUI of CoreOS is also covered in detail for complete newcomers.

The best part of this book is the mix of theory and practical advice. You’ll learn how to set up CoreOS from scratch, but also how to customize features and how you might use programs in this environment.

This is a nice book for anyone with server or technical experience but I think it’s best suited for newbies with almost no experience who want to learn everything about CoreOS.


CoreOS in Action

Every Manning book I’ve read has always been very detailed and pragmatic. This is very accurate with Manning’s CoreOS in Action which is the newest book in this entire list.

The author Matt Bailey talks about CoreOS at scale and teaches how to use this platform for personal and business use. In 325 pages you’ll learn absolutely everything about CoreOS from installation to unique components and building a CoreOS cluster.

More complex chapters get into detailed storage solutions with cloud hosting, along with more complex networking features and deployment options. This book is very pragmatic and you’ll learn a lot of techniques that you can clone & apply to any workflow.

Most CoreOS books are very general but this is one of the more technical books you can get.

By the end you’ll have a real working knowledge of CoreOS for any situation. Plus this book works well as a reference guide for solving common problems on your own.


Linux for Developers

Many people get into CoreOS for its support of Docker and server environments. This typically involves a lot of scripting which you can learn by studying a book like Linux for Developers.

This book totals 400 pages and it’s one of the most intense training resources I’ve ever seen for Linux development. The author William Rothwell talks about open source platforms and the basics of Linux before diving into shell/bash scripting and Git version control.

Many chapters even cover the basics of Java, C++, and Python environments which can all run on CoreOS. Whether you build software or websites there’s a lot of value in learning Linux. This book meets you in the middle by teaching Linux through the lens of development.

Really excellent book and powerful resource for anyone who wants to use CoreOS in a development setup.


Modern Linux Administration

Most server administrators learn Linux because it’s free, safe, and supported by a variety of tools/programs. Modern servers can run on anything but Linux has the benefit of 3rd party extensions for Apache, Varnish, php-fpm, and DB tools like memcached.

This is why Modern Linux Administration can be so valuable to anyone picking up CoreOS. The operating system is basically made for web and networking, or at least connecting and working with a web server/cluster in the cloud.

In this book you’ll learn all the key fundamentals of Linux administration techniques from networking to software updates to user management and prominent CLI commands for everything.

The book spans 500 pages and it’s one of the most dense server admin books I’ve ever seen.

This is truly one of the best guides for anyone studying CoreOS as a server, but also for anyone who just loves Linux from pro DevOps guys to sysadmins and technical engineers.


The Docker Book

Since CoreOS relies heavily on Docker I would highly recommend learning a bit about this system. It offers a way to build containers for programs that hold the whole environment in a portable and deployable package.

I recently did a post on the best Docker books and concluded that The Docker Book is the best choice for complete beginners.

It covers all the fundamentals in an easy-to-read style of teaching and writing that keeps you hooked all the way through. This book can feel very short, yet by the end you’ll feel very comfortable using Docker in day-to-day CoreOS work.

Since CoreOS relies heavily on Docker, and this likely won’t be changing anytime soon, it’s a good idea to get your feet wet. If you plan to learn CoreOS then you’ll want to understand how Docker works and this book is definitely the best place to start.


Site Reliability Engineering

This is a much more advanced book targeted at sysadmins and security teams. Site Reliability Engineering is not a how-to book. Instead it offers common solutions straight from Google’s Site Reliability Team.

You’ll read about hiccups and pitfalls that most people make while maintaining security in a larger system. The book is full of writeups from countless employees who share advice they’ve learned on the job at Google.

Most of the content talks about best practices for security engineers who work on-site. But every topic can relate to remote hosting or VPS hosting if you’re managing everything yourself. And naturally this all relates to CoreOS if you’re using it as a server.

Really fun book if you’re into reliability engineering, but not a CoreOS-specific book. However all the lessons can easily apply to CoreOS once you nail down a common workflow.


CoreOS Cookbook

Once you go beyond the basics you’ll want to really master the CoreOs environment. This involves a lot of containers and package management, but also user management and free 3rd party solutions like Kubernetes.

In the CoreOS Cookbook you’ll find 360+ pages of recipes made for CoreOS power users. Many of these recipes teach you how to troubleshoot common problems and how to locate vulnerabilities in your setup.

But you’ll also learn about discovery and more technical administration techniques from the backend. This includes recipes for load balancing, AWS and cloud deployment, all of which tie into the CoreOS workflow.

I would highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to become an expert CoreOS user. If you already feel comfortable toying around with CoreOS then you can pick up this book and work through the recipes with no trouble.

CoreOS is one of the newer distros out there and very few books have been written on this topic. But the existing books out there are surprisingly detailed making every title in this post a fantastic learning resource.

A complete beginner should start with something practical like CoreOS in Action. There are many other beginner’s books for CoreOS, but I personally find that getting your hands dirty offers the best learning experience.

Dig through this list again and if anything catches your attention be sure to check it out.

Author: Alex Turner

Alex is a fullstack developer with years of experience working in digital agencies and as a freelancer. He writes about educational resources and tools for programmers building the future of the web.