Most helpful critical review
I love FreeBSD, but this book needs work
on March 16, 2002
I am a senior engineer for network security operations who uses FreeBSD daily. I want to encourage other authors to write FreeBSD books, since documentation helps administrators adopt unfamiliar operating systems. Unfortunately, "FreeBSD Unleashed" suffers too many flaws to warrant more than an average to below-average rating.
The book suffers from three major weaknesses. First, my 'First Printing, August 2001' edition contained typos on pages 357, 358, 363, 364, 378, 435, 730, and others. FreeBSD newbies may not always recognize these mistakes. Second, the book makes numerous references to scripts on an accompanying CD-ROM, but the discs sold with the volume only offer FreeBSD 4.4 RELEASE and FreeBSD 5.0 CURRENT. I could not find the missing scripts at the publisher's web site, either. Third, several sections refer to missing content. For example, chapter 14 apparently should have contained guidance on automating processes using 'periodic'. It's difficult to implement later recommendations that cite this missing documentation, such as pages 426-7.
Beyond these three flaws, the book does not suit its intended 'Intermediate-Advanced' audience. The material appears to be aimed at users trying to migrate away from Windows or perhaps Linux. 'Intermediate-Advanced' users do not need lessons on fundamentals of networking like hardware and protocols. I was also frustrated by the inclusion of a chapter on 'Perl Programming' which was too vague to be helpful. If the authors couldn't do anything useful with the 23 pages allotted to the topic, the chapter should have been dropped. (In contrast, I found the shell scripting chapter more practical.)
I really hoped to give this book a glowing review. My company's FreeBSD servers routinely exceed 100-plus days of uptime, and I believe the OS is an incredible platform for servers. While I found sections of "FreeBSD Unleashed" useful, they were not sufficient to make me overlook the book's weaknesses. Strangely enough, it's probably still a good idea to buy this book if you're a FreeBSD system administrator. It's important to collect and support documentation for this robust, powerful OS. Unfortunately, I'm still waiting for the book that does it justice ...