Publications

Automating UNIX and Linux Administration, 2nd Edition

Target Audience

This book is clearly targeted at Unix/Linux system administrators of medium to large sites wishing to learn about system administration primarily with the Cfengine application. Some of the elements of the book are applicable to any system administration scenario but the bulk of the book is Cfengine specific.

This book is an updated revision of the first edition with the same title. Like the original book it is most useful for Unix or Linux system administrators using the standard GNU tool chain, however this edition places more emphasis on Debian GNU/Linux than the first edition.

Book Structure

Chapters 1-3 discuss the basics of Unix/Linux system administration and SSH. The remaining chapters (4-12) discuss applying automation with the Cfengine application. Each main chapter consists of one major topic, a discussion about the various tools used, example scripts and how to automate the tools with Cfengine.

Book Style

As with the first edition the book is well written, with a good mixture of text, examples, screen shots and "boxed" topics. Reviewer's Opinion

My opinion of this book is very much as for the first edition. If you are administering Linux or a Unix system with a GNU tool-chain then there is plenty of interesting ideas in the book. However to gain maximum advantage from the book you really need to be using Cfengine. Unlike the first edition, Debian users will gain more from this edition than the previous edition which was more Red Hat focused.

I was disappointed that the Perl code example in the book have still not been modernised. The first edition used very old-fashioned and non-idiomatic Perl which while functional was not the best possible standard it could be. This edition continues to use old fashioned and "baby style" Perl that while portable to antique versions of Perl is neither modern of elegant.

It's hard to avoid but the book does suffer from quite a lot of long code/configuration sections that any sane reader will download rather than retype. It is a hard balance to maintain between providing enough of the code/configuration for the reader to understand what is been demonstrated and turning the book into an annotated program listing.

In summary, I'd say that if you are or are planning on using Cfengine in a Linux or Unix environment then this book needs to be near the top of your list. If you are not using Cfengine then there is still plenty of useful system administration content to make it worth reading - I don't think it's worth buying though unless you plan to use Cfengine.