Customer Review

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the only openbsd book worth any money, May 3, 2013
This review is from: Absolute OpenBSD: Unix for the Practical Paranoid (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!) Yes, these are non-traditional uses for OpenBSD as it's strengths are usually on the networking side, but it is a fully capable system and people should see that that's the case.

Overall, if you're looking for a book that covers setup of the various network daemons, or the slight differences of a BSD environment vs a Linux environment for things like disk and/or user management. This is the book for you.

I'd go so far as to say that if you've ever read any of the Stevens networking books and liked them, then Michael Lucas is the Stevens of the BSD world.
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