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Absolute OpenBSD: Unix for the Practical Paranoid Paperback – May 3, 2013

ISBN-13: 978-1593274764 ISBN-10: 1593274769 Edition: Second Edition

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 536 pages
  • Publisher: No Starch Press; Second Edition edition (May 3, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1593274769
  • ISBN-13: 978-1593274764
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #294,256 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Michael W. Lucas is a network/security engineer who keeps getting stuck with network problems nobody else wants to touch. He is the author of the critically acclaimed Absolute FreeBSD, Absolute OpenBSD, Network Flow Analysis, Cisco Routers for the Desperate, and PGP & GPG, all from No Starch Press.

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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The format of the book is organized and easy to follow.
Michael Kim
I strongly recommend this book to anyone considering not only OpenBSD as an OS, but also for those who are looking into the other BSDs as an OS.
Ward Hoelscher
I hope this doesn't need to be said, but I will say it anyway, read this book while you are using OpenBSD.
Adam Alonzi

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous on May 3, 2013
Format: Paperback
Good humor, excellent content.

On my bookshelf I have countless books on Python, C, Perl, you name it ... . But when it comes to BSD I only own two books: Absolute OpenBSD 1st edition and Absolute OpenBSD 2nd edition. This book is really outstanding and takes you from beginner to expert pretty quickly and painlessly. Now although this book is so excellent, I'd like to focus on the areas for improvement because I think people should have some realistic expectations of what's NOT covered.

My main criticism is that it doesn't cover real world interoperability with Windows, etc. I'd love to see some outline of how to integrate an OpenBSD, Windows, Linux, MacOS in a business environment. Specifically I'd love to see coverage of single sign on, integration with Windows shared drives, and using Exchange server for email from OpenBSD.

Another area where I found the book to be a little bit light was, ironically, chapter 10 which covers security. Given that most people coming to OpenBSD have likely become interested in the security aspects of this particular OS, I would have liked to have seen a more technical discussion of the details of the various security techniques. Each of the techniques also have known circumventions. It would have been nice to either mention those pitfalls or at least point to a research paper or two. As an example W^X is mentioned, but there is no mention of return oriented programming.

The final shortcoming in this book is too little time spent showing how to use OpenBSD for email (I feel like OpenSMTPD deserves a chapter), no discussion of webhosting (again, I feel like base apache and/or nginx deserve a chapter), or even using OpenBSD as a database server (obviously postgresql would be covered given the BSD license!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jack Woehr on May 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
For many of those who like to install and administer their own computer operating system, OpenBSD is a foreign land. In _Absolute OpenBSD_, Michael Lucas is your friendly hometown guide. If you are a new or recent adopter of OpenBSD, you'll be wasting time if you don't read this book entirely, not only your own time, but also the time of whomever you choose to pester with questions already answered in this book!

OpenBSD focuses on certain principles of system design, primarily simplicity as the foundation of security, reliability and easy administration. While OpenBSD is a distant cousin to Linux as an open source Unix-like operating system, it is determinedly retro: there are, for instance, no Linux-style optionally loadable device drivers in OpenBSD: to add devices, you recompile the OpenBSD monolithic kernel. The approach is minimalist, the community is spartan, and the user must gather his or her own straw for baking the bricks.

I have administered OpenBSD for about 14 years now. Learning all I needed to know in the pre-Lucas era was difficult. The OpenBSD documentation is complete and well organized but initiation into and assimilation of the context of the project, from which all else flows logically, can be, for many reasons which Lucas points out, a long and painful process. Lucas is a most excellent Virgil leading you through the gates and down through the circles of the OpenBSD context.

Lucas has removed a great deal of the pain from adopting OpenBSD. Lucas's style is conversational but to the point. The book is easy to read and to read through thoroughly. At the same time Lucas manages to shovel in a great deal of technical detail which can be reviewed at need. You can indeed learn the whole system, and Lucas proves it to you.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Northcutt on May 4, 2013
Format: Paperback
I love paper books so that I can write notes in the margins and bookmark hard to find info, but you may want to consider the Kindle edition in this case. This is a big book and having it searchable would be a big plus; there is just so much info. Also, want to do a shout out to the OpenBSD folks; what a resource. 2nd edition builds on a solid foundation to be a must have if you're running OpenBSD. I had never really thought about the concept of a "successful" installation, but the author's point is spot on that different uses will have different needs, so they invest 66 or so pages helping sysadmins get off to a good start.

Hip hip hooray for the well grounded discussion on sudo and especially the idea of hiding root with sudo. It makes me nervous to see an admin with a "#" prompt.

I have never played with softraid, but with the prices of HW RAID, it is attractive and the writing is so thorough I think I could pull it off.

Great discussion on the network from a systems perspective. Just a bit more on troubleshooting might be a nice touch if there is a 3rd edition. I think all the data is there, but it would be nice to have it as one checklist.

I am not qualified to comment on the packet filtering section and the advanced packet filtering section, SANS would never let me monkey with their perimeter, but while I didn't try any of it, it looks reasonable.

Very clear explanation of the kernel, I got so excited I put the book down for a minute to type "sudo dmesg", been a long time since I did that.
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More About the Author

Michael W Lucas is from Detroit, Michigan. He's worked as a network engineer, systems administrator, library cataloger, and gerbil wrangler. You can find his Web site at http://www.michaelwlucas.com, his blog at http://blather.michaelwlucas.com, and on Twitter as @mwlauthor.

"Michael Lucas is probably the best system administration author I've read. I am amazed that he can communicate top-notch content with a sense of humor, while not offending the reader or sounding stupid. When was the last time you could physically feel yourself getting smarter while reading a book?" -- Richard Bejtlich, TaoSecurity

"For me, reading this book was like having one of the guys in my company who lives and breathes Cisco sitting down with me for a day and explaining everything I need to know to handle problems or issues likely to come my way. There may be many additional things I could potentially learn about my Cisco switches, but likely few I'm likely to encounter in my environment." -- IT World

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