October 22nd, 2003, 13:15
I saw some reviews on other books here so I decided I should contribute as
well. This review will be of the book "FreeBSD Unleashed". First, the book I own is the original first edition book that came with two cds, one was a 4.5-RELEASE
setup disc and other was a 5.0 pre-release snapshot. I only ever used the 4.5 disc
and it was great to have around while I was on dialup. There is a newer second
edition of this book out that I saw in B&N. The second edition includes only one
disk with a 5.1 snapshot. I skimed through the contents of this SE book and it
seems to be the same as the original with the exception of updated instructions
for 5.1. As for availability, the SE version can be bought just about anywhere.
The original I own I saw for sale on a couple online sites under the used books

FreeBSD Unleashed is broken up into six main parts, as listed below:

Part I: Introduction to FreeBSD
Part II: Using FreeBSD
Part III: Administering FreeBSD
Part IV: FreeBSD Networking
Part V: X-Windows
Part VI: Appendixes

Part I starts off, like any good FreeBSD book, with a short explaination of how
Unix was started and how the BSD's came into existence. Just after the summary is
a short comparision of FreeBSD vs Windows 2000 and Linux. Some of the Windows
2000 comparisons include notes like "Because everything in FreeBSD can be done
from the command line, it is easy to administer remotely" that go on to explain
how you can administer the FreeBSD from just about any machine with a terminal while
Windows 2000 can't do it intially and you would have to buy Windows terminal
services, which happen to only run on Windows. Comparisons to Linux include
topics like "FreeBSD is a complete operating system maintained by a core team;
Linux is a kernel maintained by Linus Torvalds". They go on to explain how Linux,
being only a kernel, has to have the rest of the OS added on by the distribution
company, which result in many different dependencies, programs and administration
issues when you try to upgrade or use apps across distributions.

In Part I is a large chapter about how to install FreeBSD.
After giving help on all the ways to start an install, it does a complete
walkthrough of installing with the sysinstall program. This chapter is
specific for installing from a CD but not to worry the very next chapter gives a
detailed description of how to create freespace, how to create a dual boot system,
and how to install FreeBSD with all the alternate choices (FTP, NFS, etc). It even
has a short section on how to edit the lilo.conf if you are using LILO to dual
boot to FreeBSD.

After the install process the book goes into how to customize GNOME and explanations
of apps to do common tasks. GNOME is the default windows manager with the
standard sysinstall so this section is geared more for the beginning user than someone who
is advanced. The apps covered include GIMP, Gedit, vi (which I even learned a
couple new commands), Staroffice, and XMMS.

Next is a chapter devoted to the many different shells available in FreeBSD. It
also includes a list of many used CLI commands for common tasks. They include cp,
grep, find, etc. With a closeout on how to use pipes and I/O redirection.

Part III is next and is most useful (in my opinion) to the intermediate user. It includes an explaination of filesystems, users, groups, and permissions. After that is covers system configuration, startup scripts, customizing the shells, and shell programming. Next is a chapter on performance tuning, then a chapter on how to install new packages and how to use the ports. Following this, and probably the most important part of FreeBSD, is how to print and update the kernel via CVS and kernel rebuilds. It rounds out this part of the
book with chapters about hard drives and filesystems, a survival guide and even a
short introduction to perl programming. The survival guide chapter is probably the
second most read chapter for me in this book.

On to Part IV, which has been the most used part of the book for me: FreeBSD
networking. This part has a chapter devoted to configuring FreeBSD to provide a
service of sometype. It starts with a more advanced look at how networking works
via an ethernet card,and how to configure it with sysinstall or CLI apps. It also
gives a rundown of the config files associated with networking. Then it gives a
chapter on how to use PPP. Next it follows with a chapter on each of how to
configure a Email server, configure a web server, configure a FTP server,
configure a gateway, configure a DNS server, and configure a NFS server. It rounds
out the part with a chapter on network security and DHCP. Note: Personally I
thought the DHCP chapter was out of order and should have been included back with
the network setup portion.

The book ends with Part V on advanced uses of the X-windows system. It is only
one chapter which makes it the smallest part of the book. It gives a verbose
description of how to use XF86Config and of each entry. It includes
how to tune your x-window by editing the .xinitrc file and finishes up with how to
remote a x-window and how to get xdm to run at startup.

The last part is Appendixes which have a chapter of CLI command references, a
Hardware Compatability list (not current now of course), some short
troubleshooting descriptions and fixes to common problems and a list of sources
(mostly online) of help references (freebsd.org, irc channels, newgroups, etc).

Overall I would say this book is for the beginner to intermediate user and is a
solid reference tool that is useable even with later updates. I started using it
with 4.5-RELEASE and I still reference it even now that I am up to 4.8-RELEASE.
All the explainations are clear and concise too. I remember being able to get the
PPP portion of my install working using the book alone and with no previous
experience doing it. I would rate this a very good investment if you are
looking for a FreeBSD reference book.