am a big fan of open source software. I've been a GNU/Linux user for years but I must admit I had never played with BSD before. I bought this book because I wanted to set up a network server at home and I thought it was the perfect occasion to try FreeBSD. I expected one of those thick and boring reference books but, hey! I am very glad I chose "Absolute FreeBSD" because it is the perfect example of how write a clear, informative, nice and accurate technical book. The book is not for the absolute beginner but, in general, it's very easy to read. It should be self-explanatory to anyone with a little experience in networking, UNIX-like systems or, in general, computer science.
The author is a FreeBSD developer himself, so he talks about the inner workings of the FreeBSD community, providing an interesting point of view of the operating system, not only as a regular user but also as one of its "insiders".
The book covers everything a BSD system administrator should know. It covers basic things like how to install the system, how to make backups and recover from data loss, how to configure the network, disk management, etc. It also includes detailed explanations and sysadmin tricks of the usual network services: DNS, SSH, DHCP, FTP, printing server, web Server, mail Server... The author also gets into more advanced topics like, kernel tunning, security, performance analysis and tunning or RAID management. I was particularly interested in using hard disk encryption. I thought getting it was going to be a pain in the neck but the book explains how to do it with 6 simple commands. Nice!
In general the book is well structured. Concepts are explained clearly and with a lot of examples. Some chapters cover so many concepts that my brain couldn't keep up with so much information and I had to take a break for a nice beer ;-) The book is worth it's price: 37 dollars for 700 pages.
Only one advice: Although it has a graphical interface, FreeBSD is normally configured trough the good old command-line. Don't expect this book to tell you how to configure your web server double-clicking on an icon, FreeBSD is not Ubuntu or Win2003. The book may not be suitable for Happy Windows Users, used too the click-next click-next click-next way. This book is for computer geeks, system administrators, people that enjoy using different operating systems, people that need to have a robust system to use as a network server, people that like to tune every detail of their machines, or people that need to learn freeBSD and have no time to google every single configuration detail. For any of those people, I highly recommend this book.
I abandoned Windows a few years ago for Linux, and so this book was quite accessible to me. That said, I think most people with more than a passing interest in computer systems will be able to glean much knowledge from this guide. It begins with a basic introduction to BSD and progressively works its way through installation, customizing, networks, security and upgrading, etc, to understanding almost everything you will need to know about running a fully functional BSD server. A book of Unix commands would be a useful companion.
This is one of the few technical books I have been able to read front to back, the author makes the text interesting and keeps discussions light. You get a feel from the reading the book that the author has had years of experience using FreeBSD in large production environments and has had plenty of experience securing and optimizing FreeBSD servers. As of writing this review, the book covers an unreleased version of FreeBSD 7, but most of it is useful for older 6.2 systems. It also will make an excellent reference.
He discusses ways of securing and optimizing FreeBSD as well as discussing the ports system, jails, kernel/base upgrades and some of the basics such as installation.
The book doesn't cover using FreeBSD as a workstation, and also assumes that you have a good knowledge of Unix, e.g. navigating via your favorite shell and using command-line editors. If you are completely new to FreeBSD and Unix then I would recommend reading a gentler introduction first. If you are coming from Linux or any other Unix environment then you will find this book easy going.
I would thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in or who is currently administering FreeBSD servers.
The author does an excellent job of describing various advanced subjects. For a complete newbie (such as I, though working with computers since 1992) this may sometimes go a little too fast. So I recommend "FreeBSD 6 Unleashed" to go with this book; in tandem you'll have a wealth of top notch information. I ordered both books, got this one first, starting reading and thought "you're going a little too fast for me". The week after, FBSD 6 Unleashed arrived, and I found myself reading this book first to really get into all the basics. So, together, I think they make a great tandem.
Oh, and thanks to Amazon.co.uk for responding to my enquiry and making it available on this site (at first, it was only available at Amazon.com, and on co.uk it said "out of print" although the book had been released only 2 weeks before ;-)
This book is a great walk through to get you up and running in minimal time. I came from MS SBS world to Mac OS X Server and ended up finding myself a big FreeBSD fan. This book made me want to learn more about this wonderful OS, it's administration and maintenance. Absolutely love will recommend over anything any time!
I have owned the original "Absolute BSD" since it was first published and it's been my favourite technical book on any subject. This book builds on that and is even better. Michael's writing style is very easy to read and understand whilst still being deeply informative. I just hope he releases an update to "Absolute OpenBSD" too! Buy Buy Buy!