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Network Administration with FreeBSD 7
Tremors series

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Network Administration with FreeBSD 7

Posted on 2008-09-03 17:15:00, modified on 2008-09-05 22:15:00
Tags: FreeBSD, Books, Reviews

As described in the "About the Author" chapter the book Network Administration with FreeBSD 7 by Babak Farrokhi and published by Packt Publishing, this is a book made of scattered notes. And that makes the context of this book so good: It are the notes from an experienced administrator who wants to share his secrets with the world. Although I have been using FreeBSD since the 2.2 versions and I am well known with it, his notes show that there is nothing better to learn from than the experience of peers in the same field you are in.

The size of the pages in the book is wider than the O'Reilly books, which makes it possible to leave it open on your desk while you try out the suggestions and commands printed on them. The order of the chapters is System Configuration, Network Configuration and Network Services and it doesn't only describe the commands available in the base operation system, but also the important ports in the third party software ports collection. The commands and examples in the book are consistent and include the command line, /etc/rc.conf and kernel configuration lines everytime where it is necessary.

Because of the fast development and the broad range of features on the FreeBSD operating system, it is hard to know everything others know. That goes for me with regarding to the GEOM chapter for example, which I never had touched before because I always have used hardware based RAID solutions. And it goes for the author, who didn't write about the GUID partition table for large harddisks.

The FreeBSD operating system has often the approach of "use tools and approaches which have been proven over time" and the mindset of system administrators often reflect this: cvsup is one of these things. But luckely the author mentions the portsnap and freebsd-update tools, although he doesn't mention the fact that the last one can be used for minor version and major version upgrades of the base operating system.

The chapter about jails, one of my favourite features of FreeBSD, is very clear and verbose, but it lacks a reference to the sysutils/ezjail port.

Despite being a book for administrators, the Network Configuration part starts with the basic stuff on how network interfaces work and how to configure them. But it quickly moves forward to VLANs and monitoring mode and Fast EtherChannels. The chapter about tunnelling is partly simple and partly tricky: The simple part is the GRE tunnel in two pages and the tricky part is the IPSEC tunnel in 8 pages. The chapter about PPP describes beside the client configuration also the server configuration, something I have never done before.

The chapter about my favourite thing on network equipment, dynamic routing, is a good start to get things up and running but is missing an essential paragraph about what goes over the wire in case of a successful (or unsuccessful) establishing of routing neighbours.

The firewalls chapter is technically fine, but it shows that the author is natively speaking a language in which words like "a", "an" or "the" are not compulsory to write a grammatically correct sentence: Often these words are missing and its confusing. But there is nothing wrong with the context.

The chapters about Internet Servers and Local Network Services are fine to have a complete overview of all aspects of a FreeBSD system, but it doesn't give more than a quickly name them, give an example and tell how to install them. The book should have been done without these two chapters and they could have been in their own book, with more and deeper examples and troubleshooting tips.

My opinion: Great book, worth having and reading. It could use a review of somebody who is a native English speaker to get the lines better rolling now and then, and a technical review of somebody who can make sure that the examples are correct, but for the rest I would say that it belongs next to the other books like Absolutely FreeBSD and The Complete FreeBSD.

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Tremors series

Posted on 2006-08-09 16:58:34, modified on 2006-08-10 00:21:28
Tags: Movies, Films, Reviews

The movies in the "Tremors" series are of the kind you expect friday or saturday late at night when nobody is watching television anymore, but since you're still awake and there is nowhere you are going to tomorrow you watch them. Low budget, predictable, bad scripted and a nice level of gun shooting, explosions and bodyparts flying around.

The first movie starts in a little town in the middle of nowhere (hot, dry, mountains) with the two main characters finding out there is mysterious disappearance of people and indeed, they find out it's caused by big worms which cause little earthquakes. Back to town, safely on the roof, trying to find a way out while the town get demolished by these big worms. Walking out is impossible because the worms sense the vibration in the ground and use that to track them. The escape finishes halfway when the worms disable their escape vehicle and they end up on a rock in the middle of nowhere. Luckely enough they manage to lure the worms into a canyon and the movie ends with a nice splatter of the worm into the ground.

In the second movie, "Aftershock", two of the main characters return with more sophisticated equipment to track the worms and with more explosives to blow them up. That seems to be the standard in sequels of bad movies: more gore, more explosives. This time the main characters (only one of the main character of the original movie came along, and one side character of the original movie but he's not a main character here neither) are hired to clean an area of these worms. The hunted have become hunters. The worms in this movie are have evolved from worms into some kind of big turkey creatures so they're not limited to underground anymore. And instead of feeling the vibrations when people walk, they now see the heath people generate. As in the first movie, there is a stand-off in which the situation gets worse and worse, specially when the turkeys start to learn to climb on top of each other and reach our heros. Luckely all the turkeys get blown up into one last big explosion and the world is safe again.

Movie number three, "Back to perfection", the turkeys still haven't been extinquished. And main character from the first and second movies is back, one still happily killing turkeys, while the new other main character running a themepark in the area of the original movie, trying to make a quick buck out of the tremor hype. And as suspected, the worms are back in the area. This time it's not a shoot-out against them, because the government joins in and wants to study them. But luckely they get killed as one of the first ones, while the now-third-movie main character manages to survive the inside of one of the big worms. Back to the good old shooting, but the turkeys have developed wings and some kind of fart-jet-exhaust so they can fly high, far and fast. Then a stand-off, and a blast which is bigger than the ones in the previous movies combined. Unfortunately for the characters in the movie, the blast was going only half-way the movie and there are still four of these flying fart-jet turkeys around. Improvise McGuyver style on the local junkyard to make an arsenal of small weapons: Less or more! And after a strange final fight, the world is safe again. Except for the themepark which now has a fart-jet turkey and a tame worm which follows the main character.

Movie four, called "The Legend Begins", takes place during the Wild West period in Northern America. No explosions, and only little guns. A little town called Rejection, with a mine which is closed because too many people didn't come back out of it. The owner of the mine comes to inspect it himself, hires a gun slinger and gets him killed. The owner wants to sell the mine and never come back, but he changes his mind after the people in the next town laugh at their telegraph messages for help. Gunshooting, blood and gore. And at the end the world is safe again.

Having watched them all, I think that the last one is the best. Not that the first one was bad (number two and three were not really my favourite, too much explosions), but the monsters made sense in that era when the West was still wild and that there where still monsters luring in the mines.

Anyway, enough time wasted on these movies!

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