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.


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.)

Running a spam blacklist

Peter Hansteen has an extensive writeup of how he has managed the spam blacklists.  Normally I’d stick this article in the Lazy Reading links, but the article is good enough to call out separately.   It’s excellent not just for the mechanical aspects of how the blacklists were maintained, but for his strict description on how the process is simple, verifiable, and transparent.  That last item, transparency, is how many anti-spam groups fall down.

Lazy Reading for 2013/04/07

It’s a week past Easter and I’m actually tired of eating chocolate.  I never thought I’d say that.

Your unrelated link of the week: nothing.  I didn’t find anything off-the-wall enough to use here.  Geez.

Lazy Reading for 2013/03/03

I am all over the place with links this week – some of them pretty far off the path.  There’s a lot, too, so enjoy!

Your unrelated link of the week: I’ve already been offbeat enough in this Lazy Reading; I don’t have anything else.

Some other BSDs

For once, I got to read the commit logs for other BSDs…

The OpenBSD ‘Papers’ page has some videos listed to match the OpenBSD-related presentations from EuroBSDCon 2012.

Not only does NetBSD support the BeagleBoard, but Michael Lorenz is committing from it.

FreeBSD has brought in a new version of bmake and jemalloc.  I’ve seen a number of other commits recently attributed to ‘NetApp’, which is good to see.  Also, preliminary USB support for boot loaders.

PC-BSD is looking to use pkgng, the same binary package manager used in John Marino’s DPorts.  It’s proving quite popular.

Lazy Reading for 2012/10/28

Life is busy, busy, busy.  But there’s always time for Lazy Reading!

  • Sometimes Google searches turn up DragonFly BSD in odd places.
  • Wayland reached 1.0.   That’s great, except it isn’t ready for use yet, it’s just feature-stable.  I’d argue that means it’s ‘beta’, not 1.0, but there’s no hard and fast rules about that.  In any case, does it run on any BSD?  I don’t think so.
  • OpenSSH server best practices.  Nothing too groundbreaking, but they include “BSD” (i.e. pf) examples.  I always like articles that don’t assume Linux is the only platform.  (via)
  • The little SSH that (sometimes) couldn’t.  A heck of a network debugging exercise.  (via mat in #dragonflybsd)
  • The AN/FSQ7, a computer I’m sure I’ve seen in movies a number of times.  (via)
  • Here’s the OpenBSD slides from EuroBSDCon 2012.
  • Oh look, Apple’s got “Fusion Drive“.  The cool people call it swapcache and have been using it for years, so there.
  • Here’s an essay that starts out talking about Quantum Computing and moves into the ambivalence that quantum computing seems to entail instead of just noting the general scientific description and leaving it there.  It’s really quite enjoyable.
  • Hey, maybe this is why Facebook reported earnings are up: they’re holding your own data hostage.  (via)
  • Rob Pike on The Setup.  He makes a very good point about how we should access computers.  Also, here’s a recent, long slide show he put together about Go.  It describes solving some language problems that have been around a long time.   (via)
  • I was halfway through reading that last slide show link and realized there’s no way I can explain how it was an worthwhile read to someone who hadn’t done some programming.  No link or conclusion, just an observation of how esoteric this is.  I hope you enjoy it.
  • Essential Vim and Vi Skills has hit a 3rd edition.  I have this as a Kindle edition, and I’m not sure how that happened.
  • Zork in Duplicity, or a bizarre finding of old UNIX history in a completely unrelated place.  (via)
  • These OpenBSD thin clients are a neat idea.

Your unrelated link of the week: Delilah Dirk.  It’s a comic, and the story available to read online is about a tea merchant, which makes it exactly right.

Lazy Reading for 2012/10/14

I lost 12 18 hours of my life fighting with an Exchange 2010 upgrade this week.  To compensate, I will never complain about Sendmail wonkiness ever.

  • Homebrew Cray-1A.  Duplicating the internals is interesting in a “that’s crazy/difficult” way, but the case is the best part.  (via dfcat on #dragonflybsd)
  • If you understand the structure of haiku, you can contribute to Absolute OpenBSD, 2nd Ed.
  • Here’s a browser-based roguelike called Second Wind, and another called Epilogue.  No particular reason to link to them other than I haven’t had much roguelikes linked recently.
  • The role of the troll in social media is to ruin that product.”  There’s a line that can be drawn to connect the idea of being esoteric enough that social networks (i.e. Facebook) don’t intrude on your interests, and the idea of being interested in BSD operating system creation.  What I’m saying is that BSD is less hyped, and thank goodness.
  • Another social media caution: it’s their space, not yours, and they can boot you at any time. (via)
  • Yeah, I’m getting curmudgeonly.  I’ll stop now.
  • Go By Example.
  • git-ftp, when the files you are working on are in a location only accessible by FTP – no git or ssh access.  This appears to copy them in and out as part of the commit/change process.  I can imagine a very specific workflow where this would be useful.  (via)
  • Bash One-Liners, part 4.
  • OS Upgrades powered by Git.  That’s a neat idea.  I don’t think you actually have to follow the link; that’s the whole concept right there.
  • The Ultimate Vim Distribution.  (via)  I like how slick the single-line install methods are on these things…  but I want the number of packaging/install methods on every computer I administer to equal exactly 1, not (1 x number of installed programs).
  • Why is Linux more popular than BSD?  Some of the answers are just plain wrong, or don’t understand causality… but that’s no surprise.  (via)
  • Oh, hopefully this will solve the UEFI secureboot issue for DragonFly too.  (via)

Your unrelated link of the week:  A CD that comes with its own turntable and record.  Kid Koala scrapes over culture to find mentions of vinyl and DJing the same way I scrounge the Internet for mention of BSD.  His “Nerdball” from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome is an astonishing display  of turntable skill.

Lazy Reading for 2012/07/15

It’s a short week this week, but that’s OK.  The last few weeks have been a deluge of links.

Your unrelated link of the week: Crane Recursion.  (via)