Absolute BSD: the Ultimate Guide to FreeBSD
Title: Absolute BSD: The Ultimate Guide to FreeBSDAuthor: Michael LucasPublisher: No Starch PressISBN: 1-886411-74-3Price: $39.95 USD
It is no secret FreeBSD is coming into its own in the new generation of UNIX. Of course, those of us who have been around for a while certainly don't think of BSD as new. As for FreeBSD, well, it's been around formally for nearly ten years--to say nothing of BSD itself, which has been around for twenty five years.
So, why is everything old new again? It seems it's always the same circle of realizing what a great idea that thing that actually worked was. And so, we come back--full circle--to an operating system that has remained virtually bullet-proof for decades.
In the form of FreeBSD, we have all of the functionality, freedom and stability that the ideal operating system should offer. Features from tried and true networking applications to development and Kerberos services are packaged with FreeBSD 4.6. What more could you ask for? Well, to start with, perhaps an adequate reference guide to learn and administer such a giant. Enter Michael Lucas, author of Absolute BSD. His text promises to be The Ultimate Guide to FreeBSD.
Were one to evaluate the merit of Lucas's text based on its scope alone, one would be hard-pressed to provide sufficient praise. His 500-plus page text covers installation, help resources, backup and recovery, kernel configuration, networking, upgrading, security, the filesystem structure and hierarchy, system troubleshooting and system recovery. With such a breadth of information at our disposal, we should be empowered to perform spectacular feats with FreeBSD, right? Well, maybe.
Lucas introduces his book with the following words: "This book is a one-stop shop for new UNIX administrators who want to build, configure, and manage dedicated FreeBSD servers." Although this may seem to be an incredibly bold claim, when we refer back to the scope of the text, it may not be too far-fetched.
Lucas begins the main body of the text with an overview of the installation process. Upon explaining Sysinstall, however, he writes, "I won't present a step-by-step walkthrough of the interface (that shouldn't be necessary)... ". Perhaps it is unfair of me to suggest this, but Lucas just promised a one-stop aid to the new administrator. Vaguely recalling my first encounter with Sysinstall, it would have been helpful to have had a step-by-step walkthrough. Having had fairly extensive experience installing sundry operating systems, the experience was tolerable, but it would not have been so had I been a UNIX novice. Thus, the tone was set for Lucas's guide.
The text is very conceptual in nature; that's not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, for many readers, it can be quite a good thing. Descriptions of larger concepts are frequently all that are needed to shed light upon somewhat tenebrous subjects. For instance, Lucas provides a good conceptual structure for such subjects as backup and recovery. His illumination of tape devices and related commands is a finely crafted example of providing the reader with a sense of ideational fulfillment. However, he does little to explain fairly consequential subjects, such as cataloging and indexing backup sets. His focus on the greater picture is quite laudable; however, the somewhat cursory nature of the explications may prove disconcerting to the UNIX neophyte.
Moreover, Lucas brilliantly delves into software management and advanced software management. He offers readers some excellent pointers on automating procedures--including some creditable advice on scripting. He deftly describes the use of FreeBSD's package commands. Yet, somehow, Lucas fails to emphasize the use of /stand/sysinstall as a means to install needed software packages. To the new FreeBSD administrator, this tool may prove invaluable.
Examples such as those listed in this review are common. While it is of little consequence to the experienced BSD administrator that Michael Lucas offers an enormous amount of material with inconsistent, step-by-step detail, it may be quite unfortunate for the new user/administrator.
I greatly enjoyed the text. It is engaging, robust, insightful and pleasingly sequential. It has enough substance to stock a small library of texts on the subject of FreeBSD. However, it is hard to get past what the book promises versus what it delivers to the new administrator.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
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