Learning FreeBSD, FreeBSD 6 Unleashed
If you've read this weblog at all in the last year you would know about my current obsession with FreeBSD. To tell the truth I've only been using it seriously for a year now but it's been long enough to convert all the idle machines in our house over to it from all the different flavours of Linux and… heaven forbid… Windows… and I've already started using it seriously in my work and studies.
Another bonus, everything I learn about it helps me to understand a bit more of the inner workings of Mac OS X as well, my other favourite OS.
My biggest problem though with learning about FreeBSD, and most technology in general, is the method I used to do it. Aside from reading the handbook, as with most things I teach myself most of what I need to know through experimenting. I find reading through chapters upon chapters of thick reference books doesn't really work me, I learn faster by just using it (a fact which I'm sure agitated many of my university practical teachers).
All that said though, I think I've stumbled upon one of the best technology books I've ever read: FreeBSD 6 Unleashed. It seriously feels as though Michael Urban and Brian Tiemann looked into my mind and saw how I learn things, and wrote a book specifically tailored for me. It is the Swiss Army Knife of FreeBSD books!
As with most of the SAMS Unleashed series of books it's thicker than John Howard (cha ching!) but it covers such a diverse and interesting range of topics. By reading it you get an understanding of not only how to install, administer and update a FreeBSD system, but also some complex general UNIX, how to install web servers, use SQL, setting up a graphical workstation, simple Perl and shell scripting, choosing shells… the list just keeps going.
What I appreciate most though is how each chapter is laid out. At the beginning you're given a brief introduction with some technical background and explanation, followed by a step by step guide with plenty of examples and sidebars.
My only regret with buying this book is that I didn't do it sooner! If you're serious about learning anything and everything about FreeBSD I would really recommend it.