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on March 6, 2012
Michael Lucas (author of "Network Flow Analysis," "Absolute FreeBSD," "Cisco Routers for the Desperate," "Absolute OpenBSD," and "PGP and GPG") is as well known to people who do system administration and networking as he is unknown to the general public. Those of us who know of him have come to expect that anything he writes will be top notch.

"SSH Mastery" meets those expectations. If you've worked with Unix or any of its variants for any length of time, you've probably gotten to know SSH pretty well. If you're just starting out with Unix, you are going to get to know SSH. Even though the book is geared towards newbies, there is something in this book for just about anyone who might be interested in it. Lucas goes over pretty much everything most people will want to know about SSH. A lot of what he writes about can be found scattered in other places, but his explanations are concise and clear, which isn't always true of the other references, and it's gathered in one place instead of being dispersed around the Web. If you're looking for a general reference on SSH, this is the book you want.
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on January 23, 2012
SSH is every where. It is used as the 'modern day telnet.' Many systems administrators all over as well as developers, operational folks and 'techies' of all varieties use SSH and barely touch the surface of what the tool can do.

OpenSSH is the most common implementation of the SSH protocol and is used in everything from routers, appliances through to workstations. Being a small component in Apple's iOS, there are literally millions upon millions of installations.

Michael's book is a great introduction to the topic. He moves on to expand on the tool's use as well as helps the reader develop the more secure authentication patterns all while helping expose the many features of OpenSSH buried in the man pages.

His consistent and easy to follow examples aligned with his humour makes this an easy read. The content doesn't beat the topic to death but definitely gives it enough bruises to get the reader comfortable enough to explore more on their own.

I've found myself writing and teaching SSH tips every place I go so now I have a book I can send people to and save some of that precious time. While there isn't a print copy available at this first release, it is coming and is priced very well to make it affordable (I some times spend more on coffee in a day).

I highly recommend this title to anyone who wishes to not only understand SSH as a tool but also learn how to use it more effectively and securely. May no administrator use simple text authentication ever again.
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on January 20, 2012
I first encountered Michael Lucas from his books 'Absolute FreeBSD' and 'Absolute OpenBSD' . Both of those books set the bar high, and he certainly hit it again with this book. There is nothing in this book that you couldn't find elsewhere online, but this is the only place to get all the tips and tricks in one location, with a dash of humor added to the mix. You'll go away feeling not only educated, but entertained. If you care about your network, your network's security, and doing things 'the right way', you owe it to yourself to purchase this book. I'm probably not going to read it through again, but I know I'll be flipping through it quite often to get the most out of the tips offered.
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on July 5, 2013
I have used openssh for 15 years. I always knew it could do more than I was asking it to do. This books goes over ssh usage in detail - Covering not just basic usage that most people are familiar with like ssh access, sftp, scp - but more specifically, explaining specific examples of how to properly use client and server config files, key authentication, key usage, port forwarding, automated ssh scripts, and ssh vpns.

Honestly, I think the money's worth for this book is in the 'Best Practices' knowledge that M.Lucas puts into ssh configuration and usage. The book is absolutely full of examples based on experience. It is not a man page of config options -- it is very carefully written to explain not just how to use ssh, but the Best way to implement ssh. Great book!
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on April 22, 2012
I have used Putty to connect to my servers via SSH for some time. I have often wondered what all the options in the sshd_config file were about but didn't feel like perusing the man page.

So, I purchased this book to find out more about what one could do with SSH. Boy am I glad I read this book. It is very well written. And the concepts are explained concisely. Please buy this book. I purchased the Kindle version and I think I highlighted almost every paragraph.

After reading this book and discovering all the wonderful things that SSH can do, I plan on donating to the OpenSSH project. They more than deserve it.
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on March 4, 2012
This is not an unbiased review. Michael W. Lucas cites my praise for two of his previous books, and mentions one of my books in his text. I've also stated many times that MWL is my favorite technical author. With that in mind, I am pleased to say that SSH Mastery is another must-have, must-read for anyone working in IT. I imagine that most of us use OpenSSH and/or PuTTY every day, but I am sure each of us will learn something about these tools and the SSH protocol after reading SSH Mastery.

In this short review I'd like to cite a few concepts that MWL helped me better understand. These included: 1) hashing host keys added to known_hosts; 2) forwarding authentication requests to your workstation when connecting from server to server; 3) the variety of port forwarding options and how to configure each in OpenSSH and PuTTY; 4) differences between SSH and TCP keepalives; and 5) key management, especially following a compromise.

For those of you interested in the Kindle version, I bought that edition from Amazon.com and was able to easily read it on my Kindle Touch. As a courtesy MWL mailed me a printed copy of the book, and the presentation is great.

At the very least, SSH Mastery is the sort of book that every new OpenSSH or PuTTY user should receive before using the programs. I look forward to MWL's next books!
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on August 27, 2015
Mastery is not a good way to describe this book. It's a book for most folks who haven't used ssh or have limited experience. The presentation is good, but by his own admission omits topics that are relevant today. You will be a competent user of ssh after using this book. Its a quality book. Master is a point of reference that I can't relate to based on the content...but I suppose Competent SSH would be a very enticing title.
I certainly didn't know everything in this book...but I also never needed everything in the book. However, when I do I know I have a quality reference.
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on January 22, 2012
The first paragraph of this book's afterword reads:

"You now know more about SSH, OpenSSH and Putty than the vast majority of IT professionals! Congratulations".

That claim will be true for any reader of SSH Mastery who has read the book up to that point and has incorporated at least some of the elements of the configurations it describes into their own environments.

"But why a book dedicated to a single command?", you might ask. Almost all Unixes and Unix-likes have incorporated OpenSSH, the free SSH that is developed as part of the OpenBSD project, and OpenSSH comes comes with excellent documentation in the form of several extensive man pages.

Well, that question in itself justifies this title's existence (there are in fact several programs in the OpenSSH suite), and readers familiar with Michael Lucas' work will appreciate hearing that his latest work is task-oriented and well written, covering anything from the basic secure shell access through to the peculiarities of setting up a virtual private network (VPN) using OpenSSH. An enterprising reader would be able to find all the information in this book or close equivalents using the OpenSSH man pages or other online sources, but this book provides a very consise guide to both the basics and some rather advanced concepts and provides you with the vocabulary and understanding that you will need in order to successfully navigate the man pages.

This book has several highlights, such as the very sensible and useful discussion of key based authentication and how to set things up for a passwordless existence, a number of suggestions on how to distribute and maintain both host keys and user keys as well as very readable, and very readable and useful introductions to various kinds of tunneling, forwarding and proxying available using the OpenSSH tools. In particular I enjoyed reading the description of SSH-based virtual private networks (VPNs) in Chapter 13. This is one of the most clearly written and useful treatments I've seen of that subject, and for many readers this chapter alone will be worth the price of the book or even considerably more.

The book very sensibly covers OpenSSH on OpenBSD, FreeBSD and Ubuntu Linux, and users who are compelled to use Microsoft Windows desktops will be pleased to hear that configuration and use information for Putty, the most popular and free SSH client for their environment, is included too everywhere it's relevant to the task at hand.

Before Michael W. Lucas' new title was released in January 2012, the most recent widely available book about the Secure Shell protocol (SSH) and applications that support it was an O'Reilly title dated 2005. So even with high quality documentation available via the manual pages, it was time for a new title on the subject.

This title conveniently grew out of one of Michael W. Lucas' other technical writing projects, the second edition of Absolute OpenBSD. The SSH chapter of that manuscript simply kept growing until it made sense to branch the text off to a separate book. This probably means that the treatment of SSH in the upcoming OpenBSD title will be slimmer again, but separating out the OpenSSH parts as a separate book with information for several different environments added makes sense because it makes high-quality information about important tools available to a larger audience.

I am convinced SSH Mastery is a title that Unix users and system administrators like myself will want to keep within reach on their Kindles or other ebook readers for a quick and convenient refresh of important concepts. If you're a student or learning your Unix skills, you will certainly find this to be a very handy guide that helps you grasp both the basics of SSH and several advanced concepts that are hard to find well described elsewhere.

The ebook is available in several formats via Amazon and other ebook outlets, a printed version is planned but was not yet available at the time of writing (January 22, 2012).

Title: SSH Mastery: OpenSSH, PuTTY, Tunnels and Keys
Author: Michael W. Lucas
Publisher: Tilted Windmill Press (January 18, 2012)
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on October 26, 2012
As with all his books, Michael W. Lucas has a thoroughly readable writing style that keeps you engaged as you absorb the details. How many times have you had to stop yourself from laughing out loud while reading a computer book on the train? Start reading Michael W. Lucas and you will. If he writes on any subject matter you are interested in, read it. He is very supportive of the Open Source community and it shows in all the work he puts into his books.

As for the SSH book itself, my copy is all marked up with notes on where I can use his suggestions in the real world. His advice is not locked to a particular version but gives you a good feel for how the project evolves so that you can feel at ease no matter when you happen to start working with it in relation to the project development cycle. Most importantly, as he moves through his narrative, he tells you what he is not covering and the reasons he is doing so. There are not many computer books that can say that.
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on April 27, 2013
This book is targeted practically at the modern SSH user or admin. Humor (especially good humor) is almost always missing from technical books, and it's rare and refreshing to have it so masterfully blended into what could be a stodgy reference book. It makes me prefer the book over the man page even though it's not as cut and dried - it's a more enjoyable experience. At the price, there's no reason not to pick it up if you use SSH regularly.
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