Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Book Review: The Best of FreeBSD Basics

Having read Lucas' Absolute FreeBSD any other BSD book I read ends up being measured against it.

The Best of FreeBSD Basics (TBFB) is essentially a compilation of Dru Lavigne's articles at O'Reilly Media and this is exactly the books weakness: there is no backbone, no underlying purpose or scope. When one picks up Absolute FreeBSD BSD that person will know that network/system administration is the book's focus, when one pick Builing a Server with FreeBSD 7 service installation and configuration is the core, with BSD Unix Toolbox the reader will acquire knowledge on tons of system configuration commands.

However with TBFB its purpose isn't discernible; sometimes it's a tip, on occasion a tutorial, at times advices, all in a very disconnected way between each other. Also, sometimes during the book you'll come across stuff that is just duplicated from a previous section/chapter which is just wrong.

The book does have its shinning stops. It brinks with Dru's love for the operating system by presenting small details that you won't find in any other BSD book. In this perspective the book is an adventure through the wonderful world of FreeBSD much like a blog dealing with one's notes of his adventure in exploring a new OS (like my own blog for instances).

Noticeable is the fact that some of the articles were "updated from FreeBSD 4 and 5 to reflect the usage on FreeBSD 6 and 7" as the book's back states. And that just comes back to haunt you, namely when csup and supfile usage is discussed in a way that's just outdated for FreeBSD 7.

Now... do I recommend it? First get Absolute FreeBSD. Next if you are into system administration get BSD Unix Toolbox and get yourself Building a Server with FreeBSD 7 if you are planning on building a personal server. After you've gone through these dive ahead and get The Best of FreeBSD Basics.

As an end note, I'd really like to see a BSD book by Dru written from scratch maybe even focusing on the BSD certification initiative. Now that would be pure gold ;)

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