Absolute OpenBSD: Unix for the Practical Paranoid, 2nd Edition by Michael W. Lucas is a stellar technical book. Writing a guide to an operating system can not be an easy task. It’s a chore to weave between a textbook approach, explaining dry technical material, and conveying enough information to be useful. Somehow the author managed to write and, perhaps more importantly, organize Absolute OpenBSD in such a way that it worked quite well to be an easily readable technical book and a skimmable reference.
The book explains itself as being perfect for somebody completely new to OpenBSD as well as the experienced sysadmin who might need a refresher. To be honest, I am a complete noob when it comes to OpenBSD. I have dabbled with various Linux distros and utilize them on servers but usually I run out of things I want to accomplish. My knowledge when it comes to Unix-like operating systems is shallow but covers the basics. With my limited knowledge on the subject, I was able to enjoy the book quite thoroughly. The author embraces using virtual machines or dedicated hardware for exploring the OpenBSD. We have gotten to a point where virtualization works very reliably or you might have a spare PC sitting around. I know worrying about dual-booting Windows and Linux was one of those things that got in my way when I was experimenting previously.
Reading Absolute OpenBSD is like walking through the installation process a few times with somebody you have confidence in. The first time sticks to the defaults and then explains all of the choices and then after that, the process is repeated again but changes the configuration to specialize in different areas. As you can probably see from the chapter list below, the book is organized well into different topics of an operating system. Being new to the topic, I mostly read the book cover to cover but I did find it useful to jump ahead sometimes to satisfy my curiosity about certain topics while I was still thinking about them and then return to the previous section with deeper knowledge.
Chapter 1: Getting Additional Help
Chapter 2: Installation Preparations
Chapter 3: Installation Walk-Through
Chapter 4: Post-Install Setup
Chapter 5: The Boot Process
Chapter 6: User Management
Chapter 7: Root, and How to Avoid It
Chapter 8: Disks and Filesystems
Chapter 9: More Filesystems
Chapter 10: Securing Your System
Chapter 11: Overview of TCP/IP
Chapter 12: Connecting to the Network
Chapter 13: Software Management
Chapter 14: Everything /etc
Chapter 15: System Maintenance
Chapter 16: Network Servers
Chapter 17: Desktop OpenBSD
Chapter 18: Kernel Configuration
Chapter 19: Building Custom Kernels
Chapter 20: Upgrading
Chapter 21: Packet Filtering
Chapter 22: Advanced PF
Chapter 23: Customizing OpenBSD
Overall, the book provided the interesting history of OpenBSD as well as the latest and greatest with OpenBSD 5.3, which came out May 1st. Upon reading the topics, I definitely feel comfortable setting up a virtual machine with OpenBSD and trying out different configurations for a desktop setup, a DNS server, or a web server. There are certainly some specifics with the different that were left out of the book but it would have been understandably difficult to incorporate so many different areas where OpenBSD could serve. That being said, I feel like I was comfortably led to the point where I could experiment with the applications to see if I could accomplish it. Certainly not in production but you have to start somewhere.
Absolute OpenBSD, 2nd Edition came out at the end of April 2013 to coincide with the release of OpenBSD 5.3. It comes 10 years after the first edition. The book runs 536 pages and is published by No Starch Press.
You can purchase the book in its quality paperback format or for Kindle from Amazon.com. You can also buy it directly from No Starch Press as a print book or an ebook. If you buy the print book from No Starch Press, you get the ebook with it free.
Thanks to our friends at No Starch Press, I actually have a copy of Absolute OpenBSD, Unix for the Practical Paranoid, 2nd Edition by Michael W. Lucas to give away for free.
This giveaway is only available to US residents with a US shipping address. Sorry.
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