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Practical Ruby for System Administration (Expert's Voice in Open Source) Paperback – June 27, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Andre Ben Hamou is the senior systems architect for Freedom 255, a major British Internet service provider. He was responsible for introducing Ruby to the organization, which is bringing about a massive increase in efficiency and interoperability both internally and with outside systems.

Prior to this, he spent a decade as a general-purpose software hacker, working in Perl, C, C++, and Objective-C. He spent five years at Imperial College London working on various numerical problems including computational physics simulations, and graduated with a master of science degree with honors. He is also an associate of the Royal College of Science. During his time at Imperial College, he worked as a systems integrator within Imperial's prestigious Department of Computing.

He likes walking, talking, and taking abusive liberties with the English language. He lives with his imaginary cat on the south coast of England.


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Product Details

  • Series: Expert's Voice in Open Source
  • Paperback: 239 pages
  • Publisher: Apress; 2007 edition (June 27, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590598210
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590598214
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,088,493 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Michael Stahnke on January 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
I thought this book would be great for me since I am a Unix administrator still relatively new to Ruby. I was right. This book covers a wide variety of topics, from ActiveRecord, to parsing XML and several other normal administration tasks. (network programming, ssh, monitoring) The depth of the coverage is more than adequate in most places. I learned quite a bit about using Ruby to automate some tasks, and of equal importance, I learned about the infrastructure behind ruby. He reviews performance, documentation, rake, rdoc, gems and more.

The book is a great length for system admins who are not hard-core developers, but looking to expand their skillset and get some real benefit quickly. The coverage of XML-RPC, and ActiveLDAP, I have already put to use.

Besides having some really strong content, the delivery in this book is great. The author commonly sounds like a system admin just talking to his buddies at a bar. The quotes and fun sayings are numerous throughout, but this was my favorite.

When talking about the confusing terminology use with ldap, (cn, ou, dc etc) he takes a two step approach.
1. Use Wikipedia
2. (Direct Quote) "Whenever anyone suggests continuing use/support/deployment of LDAP solutions, laugh in their face with such explosive force that your response may be easily interpreted as an act of war. "

Disclaimer, the author thoroughly covers LDAP, and clearly understands it, it was just funny.

I laughed out loud reading this book no less than a dozen times, which is rare with a technical book. If your interested in Ruby, check it out. You won't walk away an expert, but you will have a better understanding of Ruby and its usage.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By James Stewart on December 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
If you've encountered Ruby primarily through Rails and know it chiefly as an elegant tool for writing web applications it's easy to miss its longer history as a tool for systems administration. Before Rails made Ruby the language-du-jour sysadmins bore much of the responsibility for keeping it alive, with the result that it has a suite of libraries helpful for server monitoring and a range of other administrative tasks.

Author André Ben Hamou is clear that his book is not an exhaustive guide to using Ruby for systems administration. Rather than try to cover every possible context he provides an introduction to the language and some of its key libraries intended to give a feel for how it might be used and why it leads to succinct and expressive solutions. A number of the more important libraries for working with network protocols and files are covered, and there's a good introduction to rubygems and how they can be used and created.

Having not done much work with Ruby on the command line I found the first couple of chapters, which cover command-line switches that can help with one-liners for file processing, particularly informative, though I suspect I'll be referring back to them for a while until the different options take hold. As with the book as a whole those chapters are clear and to-the-point, helped by a presumption that the reader has a good understanding of the problem space and some experience with using scripting languages to simplify their life.

Don't go into this book expecting to come away ready to work as a sysadmin. That's not its intention. Nor is it a comprehensive guide to ruby, and you'll probably still want a good language reference to go with it. But it provides a number of helpful hints and a good sense of how robust scripts can be built quickly and simply with ruby, and there are likely to be a few helpful tricks for most readers.

Disclaimer: I was sent a copy of this book for review by the publisher.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Alan on September 20, 2008
Format: Paperback
The title just doesn't do this book justice. Yes, there's some sysadmin bent, but most of the discussion is much more broadly applicable -- it isn't just sysadmins who care about writing clean code, storing data in the cloud, LDAP, safe file handling, dsls, SOAP, graphing, etc etc etc.

Plus Hamou is really funny in his own way. This book reminds of K&R or the Perl Camel book -- it is written in a conversational tone, with valuable gems (no pun intended) mentioned in passing.

5 stars.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ricardo Dapaz on February 11, 2008
Format: Paperback
This isn't a bad book! There is coverage of LDAP, database processing with ActiveRecord, XML parsing and a number of tools that sys admins and developers who administer their own dev environment routinely use. The section on network monitoring as well as the Chapter on single liners for Ruby Sys Admins are worth the cover price for the book. However, I was a bit disappointed with the lack of coverage in some areas where the author introduced a basic concept at a level too basic for experienced users and then palmed off the user to a reference site for some more reading. There isn't a problem with this approach it is just that it happens a bit too much throughout the book. Perhaps the coverage was a bit ambitious and some of the more in-depth material was left out?

Anyway, that's pretty much the reason for me not giving it 4 stars. However, do take a look at the one-liners, they are definitely going to save you time!

Oh, the actual writing style is quite fresh and informative. You are not likely to get bored with this one... Overall I am still happy to have got my hands on it, but it wasn't exactly what I was led to believe from reading the other reviews.
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