NYCBUG is having a book release event for “The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System” with George Neville-Neil, one of the authors. It’s happening tomorrow night, at the Stone Creek Bar & Lounge: 140 E 27th St. George Neville-Neil will be talking about DTrace, and there’s copies of the book to buy/win.
Short week this week, mostly due to a lack of interesting source changes.
- Learn Unix the Hard Way. Actually OpenBSD and nothing except a table of contents yet. (via)
- How not to upgrade your systems.
- Linux vs. BSD: which should you use? Nothing new discovered here. (via)
- PC-BSD 10.1.1-RC1 Now Available.
- Some upcoming BSD-related books from Michael Lucas.
- NYCBUG events for January and February.
- Extracting pkgsrc packages without packages. (saves time with NFS)
- FreeBSD and Vagrant. (via nycbug-talk mailing list)
- Make PC-BSD work like Windows.
- Lumina 0.8.1 is out.
- urndis(4) is how you tether OpenBSD to a phone; or use it as a hotspot.
- There’s a BSD meetup happening February 19th in Hannover, Germany.
Normally if I talk about a filesystem here, I talk about Hammer, which is not a surprise. However, I often read and review Michael W. Lucas’s BSD-oriented books, and he has written FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials. I’m reviewing it here because it’s obviously BSD-related, and some portions are directly relevant for other BSDs.
Disk setup and layout isn’t something that normally consumes much attention past the initial install – until something goes wrong, or until a system needs a new configuration. Installers tend to hide that initial layout, anyway.
Vendors take advantage of this. Much of the specialized storage vendors out there are selling you a computer with disks in it – something you can build yourself. You don’t (or at least I hope you don’t) buy a firewall when you can do the same with pf or ipfw; the same goes for disk management.
There’s plenty of coverage of GEOM, GELI, GDBE, and the other technologies specific to FreeBSD. I for one did not know how GEOM worked, with its consumer/producer model – and I imagine it’s complex to dive into when you’ve got a broken machine next to you. If you are administering FreeBSD systems, especially ones that deal with dedicated storage, you will find this useful. He doesn’t go into ZFS, but he does hint at a book on it later…
If you’re not a FreeBSD user, there’s also material that’s common to any BSD – an explanation of disk architecture, of UFS, RAID, and SMART. Knowing what SMART is and does is essential, in my opinion. You may be able to cobble this material together from other sources online, but it’s packaged nicely here, with Lucas’s easy writing style.
It’s a self-published book, and as such the download nets you three different formats. It’s currently $10 and DRM-free, directly from the author. You can also order physical versions, if you like paper.
I’m going to dive right in with an anecdote: As is normal for anyone in systems administration, I’m busy at work. I’ve been short an employee for some time, and I brought in a managed service provider to do some work. This included a revamping of the network equipment and layout, as it has been growing organically rather than in a planned fashion.
I received the formal assessment from the provider a few weeks ago, and it mentioned that we were using a non ICSA-certified firewall: pf, in the form of pfSense. This was accompanied by some rather drastic warnings about how open source was targeted by hackers! and implied that ICSA certification was a mark of quality rather than a purchasable certification. All bogus, of course.
The reason I’m starting this review with this little story is to note that while open source has become well-accepted for system and application software, there’s still a lot of people that expect commercial hardware to be exclusively handling data once it leaves the server. That’s been valid for a long time, but software like pf represents a realistic option, or even an improvement, over many commercial and proprietary options. Since pf exists in one form or another on all the BSDs, it’s a tool you should be at least somewhat familiar with.
Peter N. M. Hansteen has written about pf first online, and then in printed form, for some time. The Book of PF is in its third edition, and that’s what I have to read. (Disclosure: No Starch Press gave me the book free, without requirements)
The book is excellent, and easier to read than I expected for a book about network processing. It can be read in linear form, as it takes the reader from simple to more complex network layouts. It works as a reference book, too, as it focuses on different tools around pf and what they are used for.
It covers the different pf version in OpenBSD, NetBSD, and FreeBSD, and DragonFly gets at least a partial mention in some portions of the book. For example, OpenBSD recently removed ALTQ, but the other BSDs still use it. With- and without-ALTQ scenarios are covered every place it applies. You’re going to get the most mileage out of an OpenBSD setup with it, though.
The parts where the book shines are the later chapters; the descriptions of greylisting and spamd, the traffic shaping notes, and the information on monitoring pf will be useful for most anyone. It’s quite readable; similar in tone to Peter’s blog. If you enjoy his in-depth online articles, the book will be a pleasant read.
I sort of lost a day this week because of an accidental 20-hour workday, but I still have the links:
- I love cross-pollination. (plus)
- “Why I (mostly) hack on BSD licenced stuff: so I don’t have to deal with this.“
- Tips on pkgsrc packaging.
- Kerberos IV is going away in pkgsrc.
- The pkgsrc-2014Q4 freeze is on.
- A new way to build NanoBSD.
- A new ZFS ARC tunable you may need.
- I could have sworn vigr(8) already existed.
- PC-BSD is moving to Qt5.
- A domain blocking script.
- Showing remote programs on your Mac using X.
- Long thread about BSD VPS hosting. (consensus: try RootBSD or Vultr.)
- OpenBSD man is now really mandoc.
- freebsd-update issues for 10.1.
- Steam on PC-BSD 2. (video)
- The (new) PC-BSD upgrade to 10.1 is available.
- Sunday Morning Linux Review on “FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials”
- Sudo: You’re Doing It Wrong.
- “…what’s the best place to start learning about BSD?“
Note: corrected VPS hosting link.
I have been building up quite the variety this week.
- Bitrig 1.0 has been released.
- Writing NetBSD Sound Drivers in Haskell. (PDF, via)
- ruBSD 2014, happening December 13th in Moscow. (via)
- How to configure full disk encryption in PC-BSD 10.1. (via)
- BSD Magazine for November 2014. (via) Why don’t they put new issue announcements in their RSS?
- A week of pkgsrc #5.
- FreeBSD Foundation’s 2014 year-end fundraising.
- FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials is hitting the printers. There’s a quiet mention of the next two books in that series, too.
- Two new kernel errata for OpenBSD.
- BSDCan 2015 (June 2015) has opened up its call for papers, now through Jan 19th, 2015. (via)
- A conversation about UTF-8, Unicode, and file systems.
- A conversation about random vs. phrase passwords.
- New Directions in Operating Systems conference notes. Lots of BSD stuff in there. (via)
- nih-0.13.0 is out for pkgsrc.
- BSD presentations (including DragonFly) at the X Developers Conference. I mentioned the event itself before, but that link wasn’t open to non-subscribers until later, as pointed out to me.
- Coreboot on the BSDs.
- More talk about embedded OpenBSD on cheap machines, including thin client machines repurposed into routers.
- Noticed in that previous link: <$100 Ubuquiti EdgeRouter-Lites can run OpenBSD? FreeBSD too, apparently.
- Is it time to give BSDs a try?
- Fixing PC-BSD upgrade issues.
I’ve placed an image slider over on the right side of the website; it’s all BSD-related books. Each image is linked to a page about the book where you can buy it. It’s not paid advertising, or perhaps advertising at all; there’s no in-kind benefit. It’s specifically books I think people would find interesting to read, and we’d all benefit by the expansion of the BSD ‘ecosystem’.
The most recent edition added is Michael W. Lucas’s FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials, which is out in ebook form today, and printed form soon.
I actually got this started early, for once, instead of completing in a panic on Friday night.
- The Move from Linux to FreeBSD. (via)
- BSDTalk247 – FreeBSD: The Next 10 Years with Jordan Hubbard. I meant to post this before; lost track.
- /var/tmp now links to /tmp on OpenBSD.
- OpenBSD now has perl 5.20.1 in base.
- Making FireFox less insecure on OpenBSD.
- You can peek at what ‘roles’ are being put together for PC-BSD installs. Or just watch this video.
- PC-BSD and TrueOS version 10.1 released, Lumina 0.7.2 tagged.
- Linux Top 3: PC-BSD 10.1 Linux Mint 17.1 and Mageia 5.
- FreeBSD now supports the Trendnet TEW-646UBH wireless adapter.
- BSD Router Project (bsdrp) version 1.53 is out.
- NetBSD has updated tcpdump/libpcap.
- retiring crypt
- shtk 1.6 now available.
- NYCBSDCon made about $1k for each of the BSDs.
- WhatsApp donate $1MM to the FreeBSD Foundation.
- DiscoverBSD for 2014/11/17.
- Workaday Software For BSD On the Desktop?
- Book Review: Book of PF, 3rd Edition.
Snow finally hit my area yesterday, which makes me happy.
- PC-BSD 10.1-RC2 Released.
- FreeBSD 10.1-RC4 now available.
- Building an OpenBSD firewall and router
- Michael W. Lucas’s next book: “Networking for Sysadmins“. BSD-friendly, of course.
- See also: his sci-fi work, not BSD related.
- PC-BSD’s Lumina gains plugins. (one link of several)
- pkgsrc-2014Q3 packages for OSX now available
- OpenBSD adds SipHash.
- OpenBSD has enabled USB3.
- The signed Book of PF made $3000 at auction.
- FreeBSD now uses vt(4) instead of syscons by default.
- Improving bcd(6)
Done at the last minute, like always, but surprisingly extensive this week:
- DiscoverBSD for 2014/10/06.
- FreeBSD Cheatsheet.
- FreeBSD 10.1 RC2 is out.
- Question about the BSD community as a whole.
- mandoc now contains man.
- PC-BSD now has a new Linuxulator and AppCafe.
- GhostBSD 4.0 is out.
- Frequent BSD author Michael W. Lucas is now a fulltime tech author.
- Speaking of that, the first draft of his FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials is up.
- Introducing sysupgrade for NetBSD.
- 37 year old bug, 22 year old fix, patched this month. (via)
- PC-BSD has branched 10.1.
- FreeBSD has netmap support in libpcap.
- FreeBSD’s ipfw has received some updates.
- A PC-BSD 10.0.3 review.
- Building packages at scale.
- MeetBSD 2014 is coming up in California.
- NetBSD 6.1.5 and 6.0.6 are out.
- The third quarter 2014 FreeBSD Status Report is out.
- Send in your OpenBSD dmesg.
- Importing pkg to NetBSD – an idea I support.
Part of this was done while traveling, but still a decent week for links.
- A BSD-licensed timeout(1).
- DiscoverBSD roundup for 2014/07/21.
- NetBSD has a start of a radeon driver.
- FreeBSD has a Phabricator site, which is getting linked in some commits.
- The OpenBSD cvsweb was down but appears to be back now.
- Lua in NetBSD went from version 5.1 to 5.3.
- Yay cross-pollination, sorta?
- “*BSD on the desktop for an intermediate Linux user?“
- NetBSD got a slight binary loading speedup.
- OpenBSD + OSX/iOS and IPsec/l2tp setup, the thread and the followup.
- Trying to establish the longest trust chain possible for an OpenBSD install.
- OpenBSD’s new httpd is now installed by default. Lynx is no longer. (partially via)
- ldapd/OpenBSD users may need this thread when upgrading.
- DIAGNOSTIC does not slow down NetBSD.
- Bitrig is nearing 1.0, according to an email on their firstname.lastname@example.org list. But I can’t find a way to link to the summary of what they have done. There’s the Bitrig roadmap, I guess?
- An early draft (“prerelease”) of Michael Lucas’s next book, “FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials“, is available.
- Undeadly has a lot of articles written by recent OpenBSD Hackathon participants. Instead of linking to specific ones, I’ll just point you at the site. (undeadly.org can’t tag or search to a summary page.)
- BSD, the movie. (via).
I was out sick for a few days this week (Norwalk virus ain’t fun), and so there’s a whole lot of links to follow.
- The History of the Pocket Knife. I link to it because the pictures are pretty, and because a multitool is one of the more useful physical tools you can have. (via)
- Ooh, a new James Mickens video! This is a sort of antidote to the overoptimistic Scott Hanselman video. Computers are a Sadness, I am the Cure. (via)
- Book review: The Art of Unix Programming.
- Computing Across America.
- Again, not DragonFlyBSD.
- Some interesting thoughts and actions on copyright. I bought the bumper sticker the author’s talking about, directly from him.
- Uh oh.
- Multi-process architectures suck. Yet that’s everything we work on these days. (via)
- The March Towards Go. I keep meaning to sit down and actually try a project in Go. (via)
- UNIX Tricks. Some Linuxisms in there, but oh well. (via)
- Vim as Language. Not a bad description. Related by association: I get tired of seeing the little-avatar-plus-name-plus-job-title that gets stuck on so many blog posts. (via)
- An interview with Damien Conway. He’s a very smart and direct person, so the interview is worthwhile. (via)
- Patching the Newton. Some interesting early history. I remember holding a Newton and saying “This should work like a phone.”
- BOOTSTRA.386 – A Bootstrap theme that will entertain you, or maybe give you painful flashbacks. (via multiple places)
Your unrelated link of the week: The 1987 Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship. Imagine there was no Internet access other than what you can telnet to, and nothing on TV other than this. That’s 1987.
O’Reilly is running a 50% off special on a variety of books on electronics, with coupon code WKECTRC. I’m posting it now because it only lasts for this week.
Update: another offer just popped up in my email – 50% off various “web performance and operations” books with the code CFVLTY4.
Michael W. Lucas is doing a webcast for O’Reilly today, at 1 PM Eastern. The title is “Beyond Security: Getting to Know OpenBSD’s Real Purpose. You can also get his “Absolute OpenBSD” book, 2nd edition, for 50% off with the coupon code DEAL. I think that’s a today-only offer, so jump on it now.
Lots of links, yet again.
- Michael W. Lucas intends to have more BSD books out this year – at least 2. He goes into great detail on his plans. He hints at other authors with material on the way.
- BSD-linked Twitter accounts. I like finding accounts of individual developers, so you can see what projects people are working on. (plz suggest)
- The PC-BSD Weekly Digest 16 and number 17.
- The latest freebsdnews.net summary.
- Another BSD-based product I didn’t know about.
- FreeBSD has a new version of netmap.
- NetBSD and FreeBSD have brought in version 2.0 of ATF, the Automated Test Framework.
- FreeBSD has imported OpenBSD’s RNDIS framework.
- More cross-BSD fixes.
- Found through this OpenBSD sendmail upgrade: Sendmail, Inc., is now owned by a company called Proofpoint? A ‘security-as-a-service’ provider. I don’t know how to feel about this.
- OpenBSD has Intel Centrino Wireless-N 2230, 2200/105/135 support.
- OpenBSD supports qle(4), the QLogic ISP24xx fibre channel HBA.
- First Impressions of FreeBSD 10 on Distrowatch. (via)
- The minimum acceptable OpenSSL for pkgsrc has been bumped up.
- Undeadly has several n2k14 hackathon reports.
- Ahem. (via Freenode #nycbug)
Michael W. Lucas is selling his work at a temporary discount during NYCBSDCon, which means you have today and tomorrow to get 3 books (Sudo Mastery, DNSSEC Mastery, and SSH Mastery) for $20 total, $7 less than normal. Head to his site to get the coupon code. He’s speaking at NYCBSDCon tomorrow, too – you should go.
No Starch Press noticed that I keep talking about Michael W. Lucas’s BSD-related books, and I’ve linked to Peteris Krumins’s catonmat site before, so they sent a copy of Krumins’s new “Perl One-Liners” book to me.
Here’s the hook for me: Perl was the first language I wrote a program of any real use in. Years ago, I had the Perl Cookbook. It was a pretty simple formula, where I’d have a problem. I’d look it up in the Perl Cookbook. If there was already a recipe that matched what I needed, I was set. I ended up having to stuff the book into a binder because the spine broke.
This reference is essentially what the Perl One-Liners book is, though this is less about programming and more about the solution you need right now. The book realizes this and it’s laid out like a menu. Flip through the index to find your problem, and then type the answer. The book even includes a link to a text file that you can copy down and grep for answers – I won’t link to it because it’s not mentioned on the author’s page, though he does include example chapters.
It’s not about learning Perl, and it’s not about technique – these are one-liners, after all. If you are doing the sort of thing Perl excels at, like text mangling, this will be a book full of tools for you. I think the author is going to continue in this style; he’s done a lot of one-liner articles and even some previous e-books.
Probably a good idea to make this disclaimer: As with other books, I get no reward for this review, unless you count me having another book in the house. That’s more of a problem than a benefit for me.
This appears to be all audiovisual media week, because author Michael W. Lucas gave a talk at the Michigan Users Group about OpenBSD (he’s qualified), and it’s up now in two parts. He describes it as:
“Among other things, I compare OpenBSD to Richard Stallman and physically assault an audience member.”
If you’ve seen my previous two reviews of Michael W. Lucas’s ‘Mastery’ books – DNSSEC Mastery and SSH Mastery – then you can guess what this will be: his newest book, focusing on a single software topic. This time it’s sudo.
The one downside of reading this book: I now am aware I’m using sudo wrong. Perhaps not wrong, but not anywhere near its potential. Sudo – and I’m not the only person who has experienced this – is used as a “Let’s install sudo so we don’t have to tell anyone the root password”. Sudo works for that sort of thing, but there’s a lot more possibilities.
Sudo is designed to be deployable across multiple systems, as part of a security policy. It’s an easy way to create purpose-shaped roles with different users, especially with users that have specialized skills and tasks, like database maintenance.
Obviously I think better of sudo after reading the book; there’s a lot of program capabilities of which I was unaware, but it’s the book that sells them. Michael W. Lucas’s humor is on display again, to break up some very technical material. Here’s some bits, pulled out.
Remember that “syntactically valid” is not the same as “does what you want.”
Pressing Q tells visudo to break sudo until you log in as root and fix it. Do not press this button. You won’t like it.
Here I create the TAPEMONKEYS alias for the people who manage backups.
And if Carl tries to configure Oracle on the PostgreSQL server, senior sysadmin Thea needs to have sharp words with him. Probably involving a tire iron.
The book is in-depth enough to cover more complex topics like using sudo and Active Directory, and sudo as an intrusion detection tool, of all things.
The usual reasons to buy a Mastery book are all still there: it specifically mentions working on BSD systems instead of pretending Linux is the only system out there. It’s available through a DRM-free seller (Smashwords) in addition to Amazon. It’s a self-published effort, not shovelware. It’s available now as an ebook, and in physical form soon. Lucas talks about it on BSDNow 010, too.
I have one last nontechnical note. Since these Mastery books are working into a series, I’d like to see a whole printed run of visually matching books. Something with the equivalent of the O’Reilly animals or the Pelican or even Little Blue Books common look and feel.
The takeaway: You should be reading this book if you plan to use sudo in any sort of multiuser environment. It’s available as an e-book direct from the author, via Amazon, via Smashwords, and possibly Barnes & Noble at some point in the near future. Physical books are available, and you can buy both forms together, apparently.
And of course this sudo joke.
The 10th BSDNow episode is out, with the ambitious title, “Year of the BSD Desktop”. As you can guess from the title, a PC-BSD desktop gets set up as part of the episode, and as you might not guess from the title, they interview Michael W. Lucas.
This week just built up and built up.
- UNIXStickers.com. Not really UNIXish. More vaguely free software cause-ish. (via tuxillo on EFNet #dragonflybsd)
- The Hail Mary Cloud and the Lessons Learned. Peter Hansteen’s talk from BSDCan 2013. I linked to some of his earlier comments on this botnet before, but this is the comprehensive summary.
- Dwarf Fortress NYC. A good exploration of how the symbolic representations in Dwarf Fortress and roguelikes in general are not that far from ‘accepted’ artwork and design. (via)
- Killscreen on Salty Bet. Describing Salty Bet out loud sounds like a cyberpunk novel idea from 1998. (via)
- The top 100 inventions of the past 100 years. I’d argue that some of them are not that important, but the photographs are neat. (via)
- Resurrecting APL/360. People go to extremes to recreate not-very-pleasant historical computing environments. (via)
- Facebook and Open Networking Plan. Facebook doesn’t exactly do good, but I do like the idea of separating hardware from software in networking equipment, a la pfSense. (via)
- Polemic: how readers will discover books in future. Sounds awful, and unfortunately a bit feasible. (via, with a great illustration)
- Age-ism, Transhumanism, and Silicon Valley’s Cognitive Dissonance. A lot of the stupid mistakes tech companies make happen because they are uniformly run by inexperienced people. Worse, this is the sort of perspective you only gain with age. (via)
- How was Hangul Invented? I don’t know any Korean, spoken or written, but I find the planned creation of a language interesting. (via)
- History of the Telegraph. I like the physical design of the old models. Also, Western Union was once the largest telecom company in the world.
- A list of free programming books. (via)
- Connecting a payphone to Asterisk. I did a similar thing with a Model 500. Hmm… and this guy has the same initials as me. (via)
Your unrelated comic link of the week: Nimona.
Moved 20 servers to new hardware this week. Normally my workplace doesn’t get very active until snow hits. Normally. Anyway, going for the long sentences this week.
- Why I moved away from Microsoft ASP.NET. I agree with everything in this. I’m overgeneralizing, of course, but there’s a certain diminishing return in how easy you make any programming language.
- In which I revisit the pastimes of my misspent youth. The last 2 sentences are a nerd experience I am sure we’re all had.
- The Floppy ROM. Software via record. If you ever wanted to be able to see a head crash as it happens on your storage medium, this is the way. (via)
- Chart of Electromagnetic Radiation. You’ll need to/want to zoom in. (via)
- The Practice of Network Security Monitoring. I’ve linked to a review of the book before.
- Paula Deen X Machine. Baked goods and graphs, two of my favorite categories of thing. (via I forgot, sorry)
- The new Amazon tablets are nice, but there’s no video out. You have to use their network service. This is what makes me leery of newer tablets and phones; as it becomes easier to use network bandwidth to replace physical connections, you become dependent on a separate company to use your own hardware.
- Vim documentation in PDF form. Maybe print it, maybe don’t. (via)
- Salesforce Architecture. I like seeing how the really, really huge server setups work, but I doubt I’ll ever have to handle one; how many are there outside of Google/Amazon/a couple other companies? (via)
- Obstacles to future proofing home automation. At that level of hardware, you can’t assume everything’s going to talk 802.11 or have an Ethernet port.
- Tape rescues big data. I need to set up a larger backup system at work, and it might be tape. I hate tape, but I hate it less than the alternatives.
Your unrelated link of the week: Proper Opossum Massage. Yes, it’s a serious video, but it shouldn’t be taken seriously.
Michael W. Lucas needs tehcnical reviewers for his first draft of ‘Sudo Mastery’. If you know sudo, and know how to criticize (and who doesn’t, for this is the Internet), look at what you’d have to do.
I think I’m finally catching up on the backlog.
- Unix: Flexibly moving files with lftp. I usually copy and paste a shell script together.
- BANCStar source code. In that sort of environment, there’s no good or bad code. It has moved beyond such considerations. (via)
- The Lenna Story. About the 1972 Playboy centerfold image used to test image compression. I mentioned it once before in passing. (via)
- If you find regular expressions difficult, putting another layer of expression on top doesn’t help. (via)
- How not to check the validity of an email address. I had a similar experience at an old job in 1999, where a coworker set a site’s main page to get all news stories and then showed the 10 most recent. This started to really slow things down when we reached over 5,000 stories… (via)
- Achieving Rapid Response Times in Large Online Services. A PDF of slides. (via)
- It’s described as “the best programming fonts“, but it’s really the most popular monospaced typefaces. Who cares about correct language – it has visual examples. (via)
- Phone keypads could have been very different. (via)
- Sudo Mastery’s first draft is complete. You can buy it now and get updates as it gets polished.
- Have yourself a keysigning party. GPG is complicated. I know there’s reasons, but still, this is the sort of thing that would be better with as little barrier to entry as possible.
- The Internet, via Commodore64 and Neuromancer.
Your unrelated link of the week: The Alan Lomax recordings.
This week, I’m opinionated on every link.
- An 80s computer ad that got almost everything correct. It used to be sci-fi environments were super-clean – now they’re dirty, with ubiquitous electronics. That’s something that could be picture-blogged to prove, but I ain’t doing it.
- Bunnie Huang does “exit interviews” when he stops using equipment. Given his electronics knowledge, he goes into a lot of detail, including pictures through a microscope. Speaking of this, how has my ancient HTC Incredible survived 3 years of trips into a salt mine? I don’t know.
- InterTwinkles, open source group decision making software. Don’t know how well it works, but it certainly seems like the right idea. (via)
- Turning the Apple //e into a Lisp machine, part 1. They don’t actually get to the Lisp machine part, but it talks about how Apple computers could load data through the audio jack. I remember doing that with a tape player, too. It sucked. (via)
- kOS. It’s so minimal that I am not sure what it can do or how to use it, but it’s also so minimal that I’m sure there must be something to it. (via)
- Building a Chording Keyboard. I’ve mentioned the Microwriter and Twiddler before, but this article goes into a lot of detail about the actual construction of a home-made unit. (also via)
- Book review: The Healthy Programmer. It may or may not make you exercise, but it will make you feel a little guilty about sitting and reading the web like you are doing right now.
- Hyphen, en dash, em dash, minus. So few people know there’s a difference. (via)
- ASCII Art. History of, examples, and so on. (via, with video)
- Five Useful Git Tips. Git tips come up all the time, but this one is interesting because it’s using “showterm“, which lets you make text-based animations? movies? to show a work process in a terminal. I think I may have linked to something similar before, but this is good.
- How to Avoid the Emacs Pinky Problem. A neat idea, but some of the suggestions are actually going to make it worse. (via)
- Vim: revisited. Decent ideas, and the links at the end are good further reading. There, I’ve posted on both sides of the editor issue. (via)
- The problem with Vim. (via)
Your unrelated link of the week: the Scary Godmother Doll. One of my favorite illustrators, building a doll. I met the creator years ago in Pittsburgh; she is an astonishingly energetic person.
Michael W. Lucas has a review up of Richard Bejtlich’s “The Practice of Network Security Monitoring“. Both of them are long-term BSD users, and Bejtlich, if I remember correctly, was part of the design of Capsicum, the security framework that is serving as a Summer of Code project for DragonFly right now. So it’s worth looking at his book. And/or looking at his blog, for those who want more.
Michael W. Lucas’s next topic in his Mastery series is ‘Sudo‘.
While these aren’t his BSD books, Michael W. Lucas has an interesting post up about the sales on his two recent books, SSH Mastery and DNSSEC Mastery. I’m always interested in seeing how self-publishing models work, whether it’s software or books or music. He points out that the point of his DNSSEC book is to see if a very difficult subject can be covered in a book like that – which it is. There’s very few published books that go that in-depth.
(I’m hoping for a whole “Mastery” series covering topics other writers don’t, especially in a BSD-friendly way.)
Some of the links this week go pretty in-depth. Enjoy!
- This short story from 1954 might serve as a reason to avoid single system image computing… (via Sascha Wildner)
- Vim and Ctags tips and tricks. (via)
- Psygnosis game box designs. Nostalgia for some, neat art for anyone else. (via)
- 50 years of ASCII, and here’s the table it comes from. Some other neat links there, too. (via)
- Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine. If you like stories about Feynman, who was a very interesting person, you may want to read Feynman, the comic book. I met the writer, Jim Ottaviani, years ago, and he was very energetic about both science and comics. Look up his other work if that sounds interesting – which it should. Here’s a sample from the Feynman book. (via)
Back to the Future: Preserving the History of Video Games. This is right around the corner from me. The game museum is as neat as it sounds (yes, they have games out to play), but the article doesn’t mention that it’s attached to a fantastic and huge kid’s museum.
- Building a Cray at home. Similar to this previously-linked idea. (via)
Your unrelated link(s) of the week: Candy Box and A Dark Room. Both are text-only games, but they use HTML5 for animation. They start minimal, and build up – be patient; there’s a lot of gameplay in there. These minimal games fascinate me. It’s like reading a book, where it goes from just static text to an entire world being built. (somewhat via)
Your bonus unrelated comics link of the week: Jack Kirby double-page spreads. It’s not an exaggeration to say this artwork crackles. (via I forget)
Michael W. Lucas wrote a new edition to his Absolute OpenBSD book, and that second edition was published relatively recently. It’s a hefty book, nearly 500 pages in length, and I’ve needed to write a review for some time now. Not-necessarily-relevant-disclaimer: I contributed the IPv6 haiku/joke at the start of Chapter 12.
If you’re interested in OpenBSD, it’s an obvious purchase. It goes into detail for all aspects of OpenBSD, starting with a very detailed conversation about installation, then disk setup, and so on. This is not going to surprise anyone, of course. Past the initial overview, the book starts with a chapter that talks about nothing else but locating other resources to help learn OpenBSD. It seems a little counter-intuitive to start a book with advice on how to look somewhere else, but it makes sense in light of the topic.
What if you aren’t using OpenBSD, at least not right now? Something I didn’t realize until I had chewed my way through most of the book was that there’s several smaller books hidden inside. The book goes very far into individual utilities. So far, in fact, that it ends up creating mini-guides about the topics within the chapters. (or entire chapters, in the case of pf.)
There’s in fact 2 chapters for pf, initial and advanced. TCP/IP gets close to 30 pages just to itself, and topics like snmpd or chroot get an introductory section that assumes nothing about your prior knowledge. These are technologies you’re using already, no matter which BSD flavor you’re dealing with.
It works as a reference. I’m going to show the aforementioned chapter 11, on TCP/IP, to my coworker who makes a confused face every time I say “link-layer protocol.” I don’t know if he’ll make it from one end to the other, but it’s a lot better than waving a hand in the air and mumbling “You should look that up on the Internet sometime.” There’s enough detail that some of the smaller sections could probably be broken out into individual books, and I daresay that’s what is happening with Lucas’s Mastery series.
It’s comprehensive, it’s readable, and you’ll find something useful in it no matter your experience level. The book is available in printed and eBook form, from the usual online stores linked at Michael W. Lucas’s site, or directly from the publisher. It’s also available through the OpenBSD Project, which then gets a cut towards development.
A really packed week, this week.
- Interview with Donald Knuth (via ferz on EFNet #dragonflybsd)
- Garry’s Mod on DragonFly. We need that linuxulator working on x86_64. (thanks, tuxillo)
- Exxon used to be in the processor business? (via)
- PDP-11 in your pocket. (via)
- I’ve mentioned before how news aggregators go in cycles: Slashdot, then Digg, then Reddit, then Hacker News, which might be reaching the peak of its cycle. (via)
- Another review of Absolute OpenBSD, 2nd Edition.
- And I don’t think I’ve noticed that Unix column before.
- Dennis Ritchie’s earliest known C compiler, now on GitHub. (via)
- Why makefiles indent target lines with a single tab character. (via EFNet #dragonflybsd)
- Computer Beach Party, with backstory and interview (via) Not recognizably Unixish.
- A very in-depth exploration of SSH keys. (via)
- The Real Origins of Tumblr. Related: I often link here to Trivium. (via many places)
- UK readers may find this ZX joke funny.
Your unrelated link of the week: Superman’s Ultimate Crotch Kick.
The other bit is that, having just released an Absolute OpenBSD update, his Absolute FreeBSD book will not see an update… until the FreeBSD installer gets more coherent.
(If you manage DNS in any fashion, buy DNSSEC Mastery.)
Michael W. Lucas recently wrote and self-published a new book, DNSSEC Mastery. He asked me to review it, and I’ve been reading it in bits and starts over the past few very busy weeks.
First, the background: If you’re not familiar with the acronym, it’s a method of securing DNS information so that you can trust that domain name information is actually from the machine that’s supposed to provide it. DNS information is basic to Internet operation, but it traditionally has been provided without any mechanisms to deal with misinformation or malicious use. This seems to happen with protocols that have been around for many years, as any mail administrator can tell you…
In any case, ‘DNS poisoning’ (or as Wikipedia calls it, ‘DNS Spoofing‘) attacks such a basic part of how the Internet works that it will completely bypass any security methods that assume name information is correct. DNSSEC is a way to deal with that. It introduces public-key encryption into the process of sharing and updating DNS information. The idea has been around for a while, but it’s only been completely implemented recently.
DNSSEC Mastery goes over this history, and through the setup required to get (recent) BIND working with DNSSEC. Lucas seems to be starting a series of ‘Mastery’ books, where he covers all the territory around a specific topic. This one, like his previous title, is exactly what it says. As long as you have some existing clue around zone files and DNS, the book will take you from no DNSSEC at all to fully implemented in less than 100 pages. (well, at least in the PDF version, but that gives you an idea of the size.)
Use it to learn, or use it as a quick reference – either way will work. If you have any DNS server(s) to manage, you’re the target audience. I expect DNS without these security extensions will go the way of telnet vs. ssh.
A book covering things like new encrypted hash zone record types is going to be a bit dry, but there’s an appropriate sprinkling of humor through the book. I’ve reviewed other Lucas books before, and I’ve got another on my plate right now, but this is the same: there’s plenty of funny to make the lessons go down easier.
Michael W. Lucas posted about his results selling an early edition of his recent DNSSEC book through Leanpub. He lays out all the numbers in detail, the sort of thing I love to see. The idea of self-publishing and open source go hand in hand, but the idea of that selling is often talked about in speculative terms rather than concrete. He’s now opening his own direct sales store, which hopefully means more direct BSD material.
If you are a BSD Magazine subscriber (meaning you provided your email to download a free issue), you can get a 20% discount on a security e-book from Craig Wright. As the promtional email said, ‘Write to email@example.com with “BSD ebook” in the title of message to get the special code’. I have no idea of the contents; just the existence of the sale.
Michael W. Lucas needs people who know DNSSEC, BIND, have some time, and are willing to criticize him. He’s finished his first draft of DNSSEC Mastery, and needs reviewers.
No theme evolved this week, but that’s OK.
- Here’s a good coincidence: I already had a link to post from Ycombinator about the rather scary Ken Thompson compiler hack. Note that the Ycombinator answers are generally, “Nah, this hack is extremely unlikely to happen.” Except Christian Neukirchen happened to note separately that this really happened as recently as 2009, with Delphi.
- This poster doesn’t understand that “removing the license” is not a legitimate use of BSD-licensed code.
- That crazy anti-BSD ranter on phoronix is getting a fan club – just what every troll desires, unfortunately.
- OpenBSD is actually looking at paring down ports, which makes sense when you read why.
- LearnYouAHaskell.com – a free tutorial on the programming language Haskell. It’s entertainingly written. (via EFNet #dragonflybsd)
- Courier Prime, a new version of the ‘traditional’ Courier monospace font. (via) Reading about Courier Prime to the end leads to a mention of Inconsolata as a good ‘coding’ font. Anyone tried it? Sans-serif monospace fonts are the most subtle way you can make your xterm look modern, I think. Update: Thomas Klausner just added courier-prime to pkgsrc, so you can try it now. Inconsolata is already there.
- Who hasn’t thought about doing this with the computers in their house, really?
- “Storyboard was born of my insane desire to consume videos without actually having to watch them.“
- A modem from the 1960s, communicating. I’d like this even if it didn’t work; the box is nice. I remember watching text scroll on screen like that with a 1200-baud unit. (via aggelos on EFNet #dragonflybsd)
- Related to that: The sound of the dialup, pictured. (via)
Your unrelated link of the week: MeTube: August sings Carmen ‘Habanera’. Might be NSFW, probably will make you mildly confused or uncomfortable. Here’s the ‘making of’ video which is all in German, I think. If that’s too much, try a recent Cyriak-animated video. I never thought I’d recommend a Cyriak video as the less disturbing thing to watch.
Michael W. Lucas is working on a DNSSEC book that he’s self-publishing, similar to SSH Mastery. He’s making an early draft available for purchase, at a discount. You get access to the updates, so you effectively get the book for less, plus you can offer feedback before the publishing date.
This is a familiar concept for software, where early purchasers get access to a ‘beta’ version of software for testing… It’ll be interesting to see how it works for a book.
- This is a good thing.
- This is a (description of) a bad thing. (via)
- Linux is becoming the opposite of UNIX. (via makx on EFNet #dragonflybsd)
- Found via the previous article: “It’s a UNIX system. I know this.“
- Arch/FreeBSD. This mixing is still weird. Don’t take this stuff seriously, yet. (via)
- Gygax Magazine, a reinvention of gaming magazines that no longer exist. It’ll apparently include What’s New with Phil and Dixie, from the original Dragon magazine.
- What does the middle initial “B” stand for in “Benoit B. Mandlebrot”? Benoit B. Mandelbrot.
- So that’s where Markov chains came from.
- The first computer image of a person, and of course it’s porn. (via)
- Hey, that’s my haiku!
Your unrelated comics link of the week: Kyle Baker comics, available as PDFs for free. Go, read.
Michael W. Lucas has a coupon code for his new edition of Absolute OpenBSD, so jump on it now. I haven’t read his first edition, but his other books are certainly good.
Michael W. Lucas announced his next book will be about DNSSec, which is good. It’s also self-published, which I like to see. I don’t know if it necessarily makes him more money, but I like to see more exploration of this new way of publishing.
If you look at his announcement, there’s a link to something else: vendor-free SSL certificates. These are possible? That’s one of those things I didn’t even realize I wanted; having to deal with a certification authority is annoying.
Michael Lucas’s worthwhile book, SSH Mastery, is currently having one of those sudden price cuts on Amazon – for the paperback version, about 25%. Now it a good time to nab it before the price bounces back up.
This is the version that the OpenBSD Project is selling, so the profit goes to the people who made OpenSSH. It’s an excellent idea.
I’ve reviewed Michael Lucas’s book here before, so when he offered a chance to read his newest, SSH Mastery, I jumped at the chance. Michael Lucas has published a number of technical books through No Starch Press, and started wondering out loud about self-publishing. This is, I think, his first self-published technical volume.
It’s a very straightforward book. The introduction opens with a promise not to waste space showing how to compile OpenSSH in text. Chapter 2 ends with the sentence, “Now that you understand how SSH encryption works, leave the encryption settings alone.” This stripping-down of the usual tech-book explanations gives it the immediacy of extended documentation on the Internet. Not the multipage how-to articles used as vehicles for advertising, but an in-depth presentation from someone who used OpenSSH to do a number of things, and paid attention while doing it.
It’s a fun read, and there’s a good chance it covers an aspect of SSH that you didn’t know. In my case, it’s the ability to attach a command to a public key used for login. It even covers complex-but-oh-so-useful VPN setups via SSH.
If you’re looking for philosophical reasons to buy it, how about the lack of DRM?
The physical version is not available yet, but the electronic version is available at Amazon (Kindle), Barnes & Noble (Nook), or from Smashwords (every other format ever, including .txt). The Smashwords variety of formats means that you’ll be able to read it on your phone, one way or another; I’d like to see more books that way in the future.
I received an email from No Starch Press about reviewing this book, and my first reaction was to say no. I assumed this was essentially a book about using Bash, and therefore probably not useful to people reading the Digest.
I read it despite my knee-jerk reaction, and I didn’t need to reject it so suddenly. Almost all of the book will apply to any Unix-like system.
My first real experience with something that wasn’t Windows or a Mac was at a summer job during college, sitting in front of a SparcStation 5 editing files and processing data for real estate. Much of my muscle memory about vi and file manipulation dates from then. This book, even though it’s technically for a different operating system, would have been just what I needed. There’s no system administration in the book, just making your way around a filesystem and the tools you need to get results. It’s the kind of skills I think people lose out on when they boot to a graphical interface in Ubuntu, for example, and then never experience these tools.
Negatives: a few areas won’t be of use to most BSD users, like the section on packaging, or the bash-centric instructions in the shell programming area. There’s the occasional off comment, like that OpenSSH originates from “the BSD project”. There’s surprisingly little of this however, and I had to think a bit to write this negative paragraph.
Positives: The book puts the proper focus on some complex but rewarding aspects of command line use, like using vi (alright, vim) and understanding regular expressions. Much of what it covers is the same material I’ve learned to use over time, and explained to others.
There’s clearly two areas to the book; the first half is about using the command line to accomplish work, and the second is about shell programming. Making it at least through the first half will result in being able to work at a prompt with little issue, with the shell programming a nice bonus. It’s not the normal mix of admin tasks and introductory text; it’s about working at the command line. I imagine giving it to new software testers in a lab, or to a Windows user that has to deal with the occasional unfamiliar environment. There isn’t an equivalent BSD-centric book like this, so it wouldn’t hurt a BSD user, either.
It’s available now at the No Starch website.
Background: You may remember some time ago, I posted a review of Michael Lucas’s Network Flow Analysis. He’s written several BSD books and so I figured it was worth reading further, knowing that this network-specific book would be BSD-friendly. Also, he made it easier by sending me a copy.
No Starch Press, the company that published all the books linked in the previous paragraph, asked if I’d read/review another book from them. This would be Practical Packet Analysis, 2nd edition. (Review continues after the break…)