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Submission + - Book Review: "FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials", by Michael W. Lucas ( 1

Saint Aardvark writes: (Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for review. Disclaimer to the disclaimer: I would gladly have paid for it anyway.)

If, like me, you administer FreeBSD systems, you know that (like Linux) there is an embarrassment of riches when it comes to filesystems. GEOM, UFS, soft updates, encryption, disklabels — there is a *lot* going on here. And if, like me, you're coming from the Linux world your experience won't be directly applicable, and you'll be scaling Mount Learning Curve. Even if you *are* familiar with the BSDs, there is a lot to take in. Where do you start?

You start here, with Michael W. Lucas' latest book, "FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials". You've heard his name before; he's written "Sudo Mastery" (which I reviewed previously), along with books on PGP/GnuPGP, Cisco Routers and OpenBSD. This book clocks in at 204 pages of goodness, and it's an excellent introduction to managing storage on FreeBSD. From filesystem choice to partition layout to disk encryption, with sidelong glances at ZFS along the way, he does his usual excellent job of laying out the details you need to know without every veering into dry or boring.

Do you need to know about GEOM? It's in here: Lucas takes your from "What *is* GEOM, anyway?" (answer: FreeBSD's system of layers for filesytem management) through "How do I set up RAID 10?" through "Here's how to configure things to solve that weird edge-case." Still trying to figure out GUID partitions? I sure as hell was...and then I read Chapter Two. Do you remember disklabels fondly, and wonder whatever happened to them? They're still around, but mainly on embedded systems that still use MBR partitions — so grab this book if you need to deal with them.

The discussion of SMART disk monitoring is one of the best introductions to this subject I've ever read, and should serve *any* sysadmin well, no matter what OS they're dealing with; I plan on keeping it around for reference until we no longer use hard drives. RAID is covered, of course, but so are more complex setups — as well as UFS recovery and repair for when you run into trouble.

Disk encryption gets three chapters (!) full of details on the two methods in FreeBSD, GBDE and GELI. But just as important, Lucas outlines why disk encryption might *not* be the right choice: recovering data can be difficult or impossible, it might get you unwanted attention from adversaries, and it will *not* protect you against, say, an adversary who can put a keylogger on your laptop. If it still make sense to encrypt your hard drive, you'll have the knowledge you need to do the job right.

I said that this covers *almost* everything you need to know, and the big omission here is ZFS. It shows up, but only occasionally and mostly in contrast to other filesystem choices. For example, there's an excellent discussion of why you might want to use FreeBSD's plain UFS filesystem instead of all-singing, all-dancing ZFS. (Answer: modest CPU or RAM, or a need to do things in ways that don't fit in with ZFS, make UFS an excellent choice.) I would have loved to see ZFS covered here — but honestly, that would be a book of its own, and I look forward to seeing one from Lucas someday; when that day comes, it will be a great companion to this book, and I'll have Christmas gifts for all my fellow sysadmins.

One big part of the appeal of this book (and Lucas' writing in general) is that he is clear about the tradeoffs that come with picking one solution over another. He shows you where the sharp edges are, and leaves you well-placed to make the final decision yourself. Whether it's GBDE versus GELI for disk encryption, or what might bite you when enabling soft updates journaling, he makes sure you know what you're getting into. He makes recommendations, but always tells you their limits.

There's also Lucas' usual mastery of writing; well-written explanations with liberal dollops of geek humour that don't distract from the knowledge he's dropping. He's clear, he's thorough, and he's interesting — and that's an amazing thing to say about a book on filesystems.

Finally, technical review was done by Poul Henning-Kamp; he's a FreeBSD developer who wrote huge parts of the GEOM and GBDE systems mentioned above. That gives me a lot of warm fuzzies about the accuracy of this book.

If you're a FreeBSD (or Linux, or Unix) sysadmin, then you need this book; it has a *lot* of hard-won knowledge, and will save your butt more than you'll be comfortable admitting. If you've read anything else by Lucas, you also know we need him writing more books. Do the right thing and buy this now.

Comment Year End Donations are the Norm... (Score 1) 245

Last year they aimed at $300k and got over $400k. This year, they asked for $500k and got $250k thus far...

Except that every year, sponsors hold out until the end of the year. Seeing 50% of goal before the major corporate donations is great. Last year they were far from their goal at this time.

Sorry, but this is a bit of doom saying by a Linux fanboi. There isn't even an article attached, just the donation link (thanks for spreading the word) and a some conjecture about what being only half way implies.

The reality is that even if FreeBSD fails to meet the $500k goal, it simply fails to grow that 66% increase from last year's goal. That's pretty much all it means. All jokes aside, FreeBSD is growing faster than their current infrastructure can keep up with. Hence the request for even more funding.

Comment Another Report by the Same Institution Concluded.. (Score 4, Funny) 173

Another report by the same Institution concluded that water is wet, electricity is not magic, and that dinosaurs are in fact extinct. The results are still pending on if a duck weighs less than water though. But on a serious note, it's good to see people calling bollocks on these claims. It's not that these things aren't problems, it's that they inflate the cost estimates grossly and delay infrastructure upgrades purposely.

Comment Friends with 64-bit Benefits (Score 1) 364

Sorry, but Firefox devs shouldn't be asking what the public expects. They should have enough sense to know two things: First is that if their market is demanding it. Second, as developers, the benefits over 64-bit native vs 32-bit virtualized.

To be perfectly honest, I feel the reason they are reluctant is the shear stupidity of a lot of their users. People who insist the memory footprint is already too big. All the bells and whistles features of memory caching, history, prefetch, javascript, plugins, all spread across the 50-100 tabs in a browser window that's never closed add up. With 64-bit allocation, this memory bloat effectively doubles. I am sure there is some fat to be trimmed, and leaks to be plugged, but the real problem are the tradeoffs for speed, useability, and some absurdly unreasonable user expectations.

But honestly, at this point I will only believe a 64-bit native Windows build from them when I see it. They have been promising this for around 5 years now with every major release. Yes, they build 64-bit nightlies, but they always stop at the betas, and have never delivered on their release promise. Not everyone wants to be the guinea pigs, and the same code builds into a fully functional 64-bit product on all of the FOSS platforms.

Disclaimer: I am a sometimes contributor to both Firefox and Chromium, and helped porting these apps to FreeBSD, where both build and run 64-bit native on the appropriate platforms.

Comment Re:Lennart (Score 4, Insightful) 460

Poettering is a zealot for a religious cause. It has nothing to do with truth or facts or even logic. His chief gripe isn't actually that BSD isn't keeping up with Linux, it's that BSD does things different from Linux and he doesn't like it. He tries to spin different as not keeping pace, but that's based on the assumption that the way he wants to do things is the One True Way. Mind you, he says this while simultaneously and purposely trying to keep BSD out of the party by refusing any and all compatibility patches that would make his One True Way usable on BSD.

Amazingly, the BSD people have a way of fixing this crap themselves. It's just more of a pain in the ass when people like Poettering actively work against their efforts.

Comment Re:SOL (Score 1) 913

Your best bet is an AS degree.

That's a great idea.!

Until you realize that and AS or even an AAS has approximately half the gen-ed requirements of a BS, and doesn't address his issue at all. The real answer he is looking for is to attend a trade school. But those degrees are generally seen as worthless, much like an AS.

Comment Meaningless Gesture (Score 4, Insightful) 586

The current leaks are out. You cannot put the genie back in the bottle. Syncing around the world will do no good if the centralized source synced against keeps vanishing and eventually stays vanished.

My point is, that the current damage is done. Yanking WikiLeaks offline is about preventing further damage, and when it finally does go for good, people will be left with a stagnant, yesterday's news version. A million mirrors of previously disclosed documents wont help future leaks get distributed, while the people mirroring the current ones are literally just stepping into harms way.

Comment Re:The Best Plan (Score 1) 200

I was awesome way before that. KEE KEE!

So many goody two-shoes following up on this... except none have you dimwits have been bright enough to suggest another way of actually getting these people to take threats seriously. Half assed wanna-be good samaritans, with no conviction to follow through. Go Slashdotter, go!

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