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.)

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)


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.


Lazy Reading for 2013/05/26

A really packed week, this week.

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

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.)

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.


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.

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.

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.

Lazy Reading for 2013/01/27


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

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.