Debian System: Concepts and Techniques Paperback – 29 Sep 2005
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From the Author
Please see debiansystem.info for more information about this title.
About the Author
Martin Krafft has been a faithful supporter of Debian since 1997, working as a developer and a PR person, and fielding user questions on mailing lists. He has experience administering mid-sized networks and providing user support, and is responsible for numerous university servers and a 40-node cluster of Debian machines. Krafft is currently working on his Ph.D. at the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory of the University of Zurich.
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Top Customer Reviews
Although English is not the native language of the author, the text is easy to follow, well written and things are well explained.
This is a book a really do wish I'd bought a year ago, rather than waiting until now. The book is based on the current Sarge release of Debian, but does make reference to the upcoming Etch relase. The web site that goes with the book also provides full errata and diffs to the Etch release.
If you use a debian Linux such as Ubuntu, Linspire, Mepis then this may also be well worth buying too.
Every purchase includes a donation to towards the Debian.
If you are such a person, this book is probably essential. Although Debian has a myriad of tools and conveniences to help administrators, they are unobtrusive, and many are only documented in the man pages and text files that accompany them. Unless you already understand the Debian way of doing things, you will miss a great deal. Long-time Debian users will have absorbed some of this knowledge, but, as far as I know, this is the only book that actually explains "the Debian way".
Although it was written for a previous release of Debian, the information remains valid, so you should not be put off on that account - it remains a unique and very valuable resource.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
I liked this book because, finally, an author has had the presence of mind to write a book that did not regurgitate Unix commands like 'ls' and 'vi' for the gazillionth time. The focus is on debian, and only on those parts that make debian unique -- the culture of the "debian project", the notoriety for its alleged difficulty of installation (which I have not experienced), the speed and timeliness of its releases (not!), and homage to that supreme program -- apt-get and its close relatives.
Those new to Linux may do well to first read a general Unix/Linux book before delving into this one. They will also be well served by first playing around with Knoppix (...) which is a debian derivative that does not require a hard-disk install. This is especially useful if you are not (yet) prepared to wipe your hard disk clean of Windows.
If you're not a rank beginner, buy this book, and install Debian 3.1 which is on the accompanying DVD. People wanting a more polished and up-to-date debian might want to try its close cousin, Ubuntu (...). While individual packages might vary somewhat, the concepts presented in this book are applicable across debian and its progeny (including Knoppix and Ubuntu).
In summary, raise the quality of your Linux reading a few notches by purchasing this book, and raise the quality of your personal computer usage by installing debian or its derivatives.
Prospective TDS readers should understand that this book is unlike any I have read on operating systems. Readers will not have to skip pages on setting up Apache or configuring BIND, thankfully! Instead, TDS covers core system administration subjects to a degree I have not seen elsewhere. I do not mean that TDS delves into kernel structures in the way that McKusick and Neville-Neil's "The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System" does. Rather, Krafft takes readers on an inside tour of the how and why of Debian. Rather than just explaining a technique or tool, the author discusses the overall problem, possible ways to approach it, and Debian's solutions. He presents pros and cons for each, and then demonstrates usage with command line syntax and sample output.
Krafft is obviously a Debian enthusiast, but he is not a zealot blind to any flaws Debian might possess. He is also not afraid to praise other OS' (like NetBSD) or declare that certain misconceptions (think debconf) are invalid. When necessary he compares Debian tools or syntax to other Linux distributions, such as a chart on pp 200-201 on apt, yum, up2date, and urpmi. The book also contains a large number of footnotes with URLs for more research and additional commentary.
The only weakness I found in TDS involved rough editing. Krafft has a tendency to use the phrase "a software" repeatedly. Some parts of the book (e.g., the bottom of p 299) are mis-set. These are minor errors that can be fixed in a second printing. Keep in mind that it helps to not have TDS as your sole source of Linux experience. I believe new Linux users would not be able to navigate TDS' waters. For that crowd I recommend Wiley's "Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible."
It is fair to say that Krafft's book has helped me decide to stay with Debian for systems that need to run Linux. I am confident that I can return to TDS when I need to solve problems, and be armed with a variety of options for doing so. I would love to see an equivalent book for FreeBSD!
This book is not about GNU/Linux in general, it is about Debian GNU/Linux and as such this is an very important book. Debian is quite unlike any other GNU/Linux distribution. With over 1000 volunteer developers, completely community oriented and community driven, it provides over 15000 (that's right - fifteen THOUSAND!) applications on 14 CDs (but only one CD is enough to install the basic system), it features a security and stability matched only by BSD and it can run on 11 different architectures. No other operating system and no other GNU/Linux distribution can offer anything in the same league. Martin F. Krafft explains this seeming miracle with clarity in a thorough and very well written book.
The books goes over what makes Debian different, what makes it unique, and what makes it possible. However, to fully understand the argument a reader does need to have at least a basic understanding of GNU/Linux, and if not - reading a book such as "The Debian GNU/Linux 3.1 Bible" or even a more general, non-Debian specific, introduction to GNU/Linux might be a prerequisite. For those with already a basic understanding of GNU/Linux and interested in debian Krafft's book will be THE indispensable companion.
This is definitely the best written and most intelligent IT book I have ever read.
1. Add ingredient A to the mixture.
2. Add ingredient B.
3. Before you add ingredient B, be sure to let the mixture sit for 10 minutes!
4. By the way, ingredient B should be added before ingredient A for best results.
Here is are two short exerps as examples:
"When init is invoked by the kernel, it reads /etc/inittab and processes the file top to bottom, according to the rules described in inittab (5). Before anything else, init calls /etc/init.d/rcS..."
"...Before iterating through the files, the /etc/default/rcS file is sourced; the file parameterizes some aspects of the boot process. The files in /etc/rcS.d are actually just symlinks to corresponding files in /etc/init.d"
This kind of writing makes it very unclear what the actual process order is, to readers not already familiar with it.
In places he also states, in a 'by the way' style, critical information you could have used half a chapter ago. In other places he'll give you just enough information on a topic to get yourself into trouble only to inform you that "we'll cover this in a later chapter." While some of this is to be expected, it happens quite frequently.
The book packs a great deal of useful information, if you have the patience to break it down and re-construct it into a more logical order or are already familiar with the topics being covered. Due to these shortcomings, the book reads extremely slowly; Don't expect to whip through it in a week.
However, of late have really committed to opening up and expanding my Linux capabilities and adopting an optional Linux Distro. After much thought and assessment- ideal choice was Debian and it's recent release of Etch. Next step was what "public" reference books were available and recommended. Obvious choice was Kraft's "Debian System".
After acquiring and reading- concurrent with an actual on-going install of Debian Etch my assessments are:
1. Good overall intro and background on Debian: philosophies, intents, goals, and charters.
2. OK background and data on the "Debian-specific" environment aspects. Although, some items are getting a bit dated, and some areas not covered as in-depth as they should be: wireless, consistent install methods, system configuration options, XOrg environments.
3. Kraft goes to great lengths to delve into the "Apt-get" areas of Debian with extensive study of dpkg features. However, little depth is given to the formally Debian-endorsed services of Aptitude (datedness of the book?).
4. Definitely more coverage and specifics on "Sources" management under Debian; with caveats and dangers of "mixed" environments (unstable, external resources..).
5. Much more depth and clarification of Init/start-up uniqueness of Debian; Performance options, and recommended Debian "sensitive" software options for consideration
6. Additional coverage should be given to Kernel aspects, unique module-assistant aspects of Debian, and multi-Kernel environments for those wishing to pursue advanced configuration options.
Overall, a comprehensive and multi-faceted tome on the Debian environnment; which definitely needs some updating, refocusing, and inclusion of new materials. Finally- Debian is now my official "optional" distro and a great choice! A distro which I intend to use and support for a great many years..