Category: Books

In Other BSDs for 2014/10/18


Done at the last minute, like always, but surprisingly extensive this week:

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In Other BSDs for 2014/07/26


Part of this was done while traveling, but still a decent week for links.

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Lazy Reading for 2014/07/06


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.

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.

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Books discounted at O’Reilly


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.

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Webcast to catch


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.

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Book sales today


It’s Day Against DRM, and O’Reilly and No Starch Press are having significant sales on – of course – DRM-free ebooks.  That represents a good slice of the BSD-centric books out there.

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In Other BSDs for 2014/02/15


Lots of links, yet again.

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eBook sale for 48 hours


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.

 

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Book Review: Perl One-Liners


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.

Stole image right from the site.

 

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.

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OpenBSD talk at Michigan User Group


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.”

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Book review: Sudo Mastery


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.

sudomastery-cover

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.

You know the look even if you don't know the publisher

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.

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BSDNow 10: Year of the BSD Desktop


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.

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Lazy Reading for 2013/10/13


This week just built up and built up.

Your unrelated comic link of the week: Nimona.

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Lazy Reading for 2013/09/29


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.

Your unrelated link of the week: Proper Opossum Massage.  Yes, it’s a serious video, but it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

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Do you know sudo?


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.

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Lazy Reading for 2013/09/15


I think I’m finally catching up on the backlog.

Your unrelated link of the week: The Alan Lomax recordings.

Lazy Reading for 2013/08/25


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.

 

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A book review somewhere else: Network Security Monitoring


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.

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Do you sudo?


Maybe the title of this post doesn’t rhyme, but it does in my head.  Michael W. Lucas is looking for people with interesting sudo setups, for his upcoming book.

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DNSSEC talk, recorded


If you missed Michael W. Lucas’s talk about DNSSEC, it’s recorded and available on Youtube.  Or buy his book.

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Next Mastery book: Sudo Mastery


Michael W. Lucas’s next topic in his Mastery series is ‘Sudo‘.

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BSDTalk 228: Michael W. Lucas


BSDTalk 228 has a nearly half-hour chat with Michael W. Lucas at BSDCan 2013.

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Getting developer notes, handwritten


Michael W. Lucas auctioned off his first copy of Absolute OpenBSD, 2nd Edition some time ago, with the proceeds going to the OpenBSD Foundation.  It was to be signed by OpenBSD developers – which is neat enough, but apparently it was annotated by the developers, too.

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Sales stats and books


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.)

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Lazy reading for 2013/06/30


Some of the links this week go pretty in-depth.  Enjoy!

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)

 

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Book review: Absolute OpenBSD, 2nd Edition


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.

 

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Lazy Reading for 2013/05/26


A really packed week, this week.

Your unrelated link of the week: Superman’s Ultimate Crotch Kick.

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DNSSEC Mastery in print, and Absolute FreeBSD 3 status


Michael W. Lucas has two bits of mostly-BSD-centric publishing news.  One is that a physical version of his DNSSEC Mastery book is now available through Amazon.

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.)

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Book review: 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.

DNSSEC Mastery: Securing the Domain Name System with BIND is available on AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwords, and his self-publishing site.  Also see Peter N. M. Hansteen’s review of the book.

 

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Absolute OpenBSD: super-short sale


As seen on Author Michael W. Lucas’s blog: Absolute OpenBSD 2nd edition is 50% off in a sort of ‘flash deal’.  Grab it today if you are interested, cause I think it’s only for today.

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Reading about booting and BSD


Ivan Uemlianin expressed a desire to read about the boot process, and how BSD works in general.  I made a short list of suggestions.

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Book publishing experiences


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.

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Pentest ebook for sale


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 editors@bsdmag.org 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.

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Absolute publishing dates


Michael W. Lucas has announced his next two books are coming out in April: Absolute OpenBSD 2nd Edition, from No Starch Press, and DNSSEC Mastery, self published.

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DNS(SEC)administrators needed


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.

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Some book statuses


Or is it ‘statii’?  English is wonderfully inconsistent.  Anyway, Michael W. Lucas has posted an update on his two upcoming publications: the second edition of Absolute OpenBSD and DNSSEC Mastery.  Both are in progress, and you can download the ‘pre-release’ version of DNSSEC Mastery now.

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Lazy Reading for 2013/02/03


No theme evolved this week, but that’s OK.

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.

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A book in beta


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.

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Lazy Reading for 2013/01/27


Whee!

Your unrelated comics link of the week: Kyle Baker comics, available as PDFs for free.  Go, read.

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Absolute OpenBSD, 2nd Edition preorders


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.

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New book forthcoming on DNSSec


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.

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Cheap SSH Mastery


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.

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SSH Mastery available for order in printed form


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.

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Book Review: SSH Mastery


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.

 

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Book review: The Linux Command Line


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.

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Practical Packet Analysis: a review


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…)

More…

Network Flow Analysis: a review


Michael Lucas sent me a copy of his newest book, Network Flow Analysis, on the grounds that I read it and write what I thought.  While book reviews aren’t usual fare for this site, it’s appealing to write something different from my usual brief summaries.

(more after the jump…)

More…

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Sampling BSD Hacks


Dru Lavigne’s excellent book ‘BSD Hacks’ is available at Scribd, and a chunk of it is readable through the preview at that site.   A good chunk of what’s in there applies to DragonFly.

My copy is sitting on the shelf near by, inbetween ‘Perl Best Practices‘ and ‘The Mythical Man-Month‘.

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PF book review


Dru Lavigne has a review of The Book of PF up.  PF, for those late to the party, is the stateful packet filter that originated in OpenBSD but is also used in DragonFly.

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PF book review


Undeadly.org has a review of “The OpenBSD Packet Filter Book“, which is Jeremy C. Reed’s version of the PF FAQ and other material, in printed form.   It’s available through Lulu.com print-on-demand.   DragonFly is mentioned in there, as we (along with I think pretty much every other BSD) also use PF.

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