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Network Administration with FreeBSD 7 Kindle Edition
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Right from the Preface it seemed clear that neither the author nor any of the editorial staff were native English speakers which, being the way that I am, made it very difficult to get into. Somewhere around chapter three, this improved drastically however, and I could finally manage to concentrate on the content. Which is good news, because the content is excellent.
Network administrators at any scale, from LAN to WAN, will find something useful. Routing protocols such as OSPF and BGP are covered, and there's a good chapter on IPsec (and non-IPsec) tunnels which was directly useful to me personally while I was reading. Also welcome was information on IPv6 and a chapter on kernel tuning.
With multi-core systems such as Sun's X4450 behemoth and the fine-grained locking in the network stack that FreeBSD enjoys now that GIANT is pretty much a distant memory, using FreeBSD on an off-the-shelf system to run hardcore bits of the network is practical, and this book works really well as a way to find out what the system is capable of and how to get started. Short chapters on getting familiar with FreeBSD and basic administration are also included, so there's really no excuse not to take a look!
I'd say the book is targeted to users beginning with FreeBSD but at least some experience (even if it's only cursory) with Unix or Linux systems administration. For this audience, it gets full marks.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
NAWF7 shines when it addresses items seldom seen elsewhere. For example, I liked reading about adding and encrypting swap space. The book also covered modern topics like Csup, Portsnap, FreeBSD Update, and other recent additions to the FreeBSD OS. I was disappointed to see only a small mention of Portmaster, however. I liked the tables on pp 102-4 explaining flags seen in ifconfig output, e.g., "SIMPLEX Indicates that the interface cannot hear its own transmissions".
I would like to see more or new coverage of the following in a second edition: 1) system performance monitoring and tuning; 2) advanced networking using Netgraph; 3) more IPv6; 4) creating, modifying, and maintaining FreeBSD ports; 5) large-scale system administration, particularly keeping multiple systems configured and updated appropriately; 6) advanced port and package management, especially maintaining a personal package repository; 7) debugging problems with CURRENT and other in-depth subjects. Topics like these would clearly differentiate NAWF7 from other FreeBSD books.
On a final note, I noticed that FreeBSD's current "Fast IPSEC" implementation doesn't use "options IPSEC-ESP" in 7.0. That is a pre-7.0 convention. I also found the author's language distracting. A real copyeditor should have proofed the book and worked out the English language issues.
Farrokhi clearly knows what he is talking about, there were a number of things I learned from the book. However his native language is not English, and I have to wonder if it was even reviewed by a native English speaking editor. I don't fault the author at all for this, I know how difficult writing a book is and couldn't imagine writing one in anything other than English. Packt dropped the ball here with a complete lack of editing. I started making notes on formatting and grammatical issues but gave up less than 50 pages in as the list grew so quickly it felt like work. Some just made the book harder to read, but several left me wondering what exactly he means.
I think there is a place for a good niche book on more advanced network and system administration topics, and many of the topics covered in this book are suitable. I feel like it doesn't go into enough depth in several areas - there were a number of parts where I felt you were left hanging without adequate explanation. For the second edition, I agree with Bejtlich, focus on those areas he listed and get a native English speaker to copyedit and this could be a five star addition to the lineup of FreeBSD books available.
As for this book, it's definitely not something I would recommend to anyone just getting started with FreeBSD - that isn't its intended audience. I feel more seasoned administrators who frequently work with FreeBSD will find enough value in the content to justify the purchase price. Just don't be prepared for a smooth, easy read.
I certainly hope the author and publisher decide to update this book. It is truly a great reference in learning such a massive system such as FreeBSD.