The Complete FreeBSD, The Design and Implementation of 4.4BSD, and The FreeBSD Handbook are among the most notable books available for BSD, but recently it was my pleasure to review a new book about FreeBSD, The FreeBSD Corporate Networker's Guide by Ted Mittelstaedt.
It seems that the main purpose of the book is to describe how FreeBSD can be integrated into current network structures that include Microsoft clients and servers -- a very useful idea. The author describes step by step how this can be done, and in which particular situations.
Mittelstaedt places an emphasis on using SSH instead of telnet between machines, security layout, using BSD for firewalling, print serving, and even file serving using Samba. Overall, this book makes a very good tutorial for all of the above. He spends a good deal of the first quarter of the book helping new users through the installation process in order to get a functional FreeBSD machine.
When the book originally came into my hands, it was on the last proof. Some of the things I pointed out couldn't be changed before the print date. Although some people might disagree with me, there were several things which I thought would either date the book and/or were unnecessary.
The first issue was the misnaming of PHP in the book. Ted called it the "Perl Hypertext Preprocessor," but PHP originally stood for "Personal Home Pages." It has since been renamed "PHP: Hypertext Preprocessor," in a "GNU's Not UNIX" fashion. The author conceded that neither Perl nor PHP advocates would be very happy with this, and agreed to include it in the book's errata on its Web site. As of this review, the change to the errata still hasn't been made.
The second issue is that the book may become quickly outdated. Because the book is so specific about technical issues such as installation, etc., it may become dated before the next revision. This means it will likely have little use to those who may want to install FreeBSD 5.0 next year.
The last issue, and probably the one of biggest contention, is the last part of the book: more specifically, the last five or so pages. The author does a good job throughout the book describing how one could implement FreeBSD in a corporate environment, coexisting rather peacefully with Microsoft software, only to go on what I call a five-page, well thought-out rant on Microsoft's bad consumer policies and the horrible quality of its software.
While we may all agree, I don't particularly think this is the way to win people over to the Good Side of the Source. Personally, I believe in the "you catch more flies with honey than vinegar" approach, and I feel that those last five pages tear down everything the author had worked for in the first 380. I believe this leads to rabid OS advocates who end up doing more harm than good. For more thoughts on this, Wes Peters makes a good case for temperate advocacy in the January 2001 issue of Daemon News.
Still, the book is good overall, and I would recommend it to those needing a quick primer on how to get FreeBSD working in an existing environment, with the caveats I've mentioned.
You can purchase this book at Fatbrain.