|By Steve Suehring||
|January 17, 2005 12:00 AM EST||
In keeping with our "Best of..." theme for this month, I'd like to provide some of the essential titles for learning Linux and open source.
These titles were gathered with feedback from our readers as well as other professionals in the field. We've divided the books into subject areas and gathered as much of a consensus as possible. The list of subject areas does not encompass all areas that an individual might need. For that reason I've included a new category, Best Linux and Open Source Publisher.
Best Linux and Open Source Publisher
Tie: O'Reilly & Associates and Addison-Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR
Honorable Mention: APress
There are a lot of publishers who put forth titles on Linux and open source technologies. Some of these titles are excellent but many are simply knock-offs of already-successful titles from other publishers. Too often publishers won't take risks on new subject areas until other books are successful, only to lament the lack of sales for their late-coming knock-off titles.
When you look for a title on a particular subject and can't choose between the different offerings in that area, it's helpful to note that titles published by O'Reilly & Associates and Addison-Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR generally have the longest useful life. It's for this reason, along with O'Reilly's willingness to take risks in new subject areas, that the two publishers are the Best Linux and Open Source Publishers. It's not surprising that many of the essential titles throughout this article are either O'Reilly or Addison-Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR books.
O'Reilly has long been the leader in Linux and open source publishing. The name O'Reilly has become synonymous with the definitive title in a given subject area and you can sometimes hear "Did you get the O'Reilly?" as a question posed from one reader to another. Even without knowing the exact title, simply buying the O'Reilly in a subject area is usually met with approval from your peers.
O'Reilly also offers a unique Internet-based library called Safari. Using Safari (http://safari.oreilly.com), you can read full versions of books published by not only O'Reilly but also New Riders, Addison-Wesley, Prentice Hall PTR, Syngress, Sams, Cisco Press, Microsoft Press, and others. The books are fully searchable and, with an enhanced subscription, entire chapters can be downloaded as PDFs.
Addison-Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR enjoys a special place in the market for these two subject areas. Within these subject areas, Addison Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR clearly has the definitive title. For example, TCP/IP Illustrated Volume 1 by W. Richard Stevens is the first and last source necessary for learning IP, TCP, UDP, ICMP, and other related protocols. The Unix Network Programming series by W. Richard Stevens, et al, from Addison-Wesley is the standard by which other programming titles are judged.
An honorable mention in this category could go to many publishers but Apress now stands out as having a catalog that is quickly growing with Linux and open source titles including some new subject areas. Apress is up and coming in the area of Linux and open source publishing and we'll be excited to see their new titles over the next year.
Essential Title: Linux in a Nutshell by Ellen Siever and the staff of O'Reilly & Associates (O'Reilly)
Honorable Mention: None
Linux in a Nutshell has gone through a number of revisions and continues to add value with each new revision. It's one of the few titles that includes comprehensive coverage of the available commands while being far more than a simple rehash of the main pages. Chapters in this 900+ page volume include a chapter on Linux commands that's over 400 pages, and chapters on boot loaders, shells, vi, sed, and others.
Linux in a Nutshell is an essential title for the administrator who can't recall every variation and nuance of every command on the system and wants a one-stop source for day-to-day assistance with Linux. O'Reilly also has Nutshell books in other categories that are worth a look if you're working in that field.
Essential Title: Wicked Cool Shell Scripts by Dave Taylor (No Starch Press)
Honorable Mention: None
What we consider to be one of the best books on Linux shell scripting ever written, and one that is a must for any new- or intermediate-level Linux administrator, is Wicked Cool Shell Scripts. This is the book that every other publisher tries to imitate. Unless you know shell inside and out, this book should be on your bookshelf.
Most of the reviewers for this article are comfortable on the command line and we have written more than our share of scripts, yet these same admins find this book to be handy when we simply want the answer without having to develop and debug the entire script ourselves. We only wish that this book had been out back in the early 1990s so we could have learned scripting quicker.
An honorable mention cannot be made in this category since Wicked Cool Shell Scripts is so far above anything else available in this area.
The e-mail subject area is split into a few different categories due to the varied software available in this area.
Essential Titles: Sendmail by Bryan Costales and Eric Allman (O'Reilly)
Sendmail Cookbook by Craig Hunt (O'Reilly)
Honorable Mention: None
Two O'Reilly titles serve everyone's Sendmail administrator's needs. The aptly titled Sendmail is the quintessential O'Reilly title, providing everything necessary to learn the application while at the same time diving deep into the application. For some, the Sendmail book is simply too much. For that reason, O'Reilly's Sendmail Cookbook gives you all of the common tasks in recipe-style format for quick and easy reference.
If you're searching for a book on Sendmail, don't look any further than either (or both) of these books.
Essential Titles: Postfix: The Definitive Guide by Kyle D. Dent (O'Reilly)
Postfix by Richard Blum (Sams)
Honorable Mention: None
Both titles under consideration for this category were good in their own respect as they provide the reader with the basics of Postfix. Someone new to Postfix might find Postfix to be more at their level but Postfix: The Definitive Guide also has basic information and a little more. In short, neither title stands largely above the other.
Essential Title: The Procmail Companion by Martin McCarthy (Addison-Wesley)
Honorable Mention: None
Though not an SMTP server like Sendmail, Postfix, or Qmail, Procmail is quite popular for processing e-mail. If you're looking to perform advanced processing of e-mail, check out The Procmail Companion. It provides a great learning tool as well as a handy reference for creating Procmail recipes.
Essential Titles: Look for O'Reilly
Honorable Mention: None
Perl encompasses quite a wide array of possibilities, from Web development to system administration to powerful programs that can do just about anything. Including a review of individual Perl books in this article would be impossible; luckily, there's no need to review individual books on Perl. O'Reilly has long been a leader in Perl publications, which means that not only will they have book on a given area of Perl development, but the book will also be excellent.
However, with so many titles it may be easy to choose an inappropriate title for your level of Perl knowledge. For readers new to Perl, O'Reilly's Learning Perl by Randal L. Schwartz and Tom Phoenix is always a good choice. The Perl Cookbook by Tom Christiansen and Nathan Torkington is another essential title in this area. O'Reilly also has a Perl CD Bookshelf that includes both Learning Perl and Perl Cookbook as well as Perl in a Nutshell by Ellen Siever, et al; Mastering Regular Expressions, Programming Perl by Larry Wall, et al; and Learning Perl Objects, References, and Modules by Randal L. Schwartz and Tom Phoenix on CD-ROM. They also throw in a hard copy of Perl in a Nutshell to round out the package.
Development in Linux
Essential Titles: Addison-Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR books
Honorable Mention: None
Just as O'Reilly enjoys special status in the area of Perl books, Addison-Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR also has special status when it comes to Linux programming titles. Unix Network Programming by W. Richard Stevens, et al, is the classic title in this area and other titles from Addison-Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR keep up the excellent status. Development in Linux is a wide, wide area. Therefore, for this article to give the essential title status to only one or two books would ignore the volumes of other material that may be appropriate for a particular development area. It is for this reason that no honorable mention is given in this category.
Some of the essential titles from Addison-Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR in this area include the aforementioned Unix Network Programming (all volumes); Advanced Unix Programming by Marc J. Rochkind; The C Programming Language by Brian W. Kernighan, et al; Linux Programming by Example by Arnold Robbins; Linux Application Development by Michael K. Johnson and Erik W. Troan; and The Art of Unix Programming by Eric S. Raymond. Other titles also exist in this area and deserve space on the programmer's bookshelf if they aren't already there.
Essential Title: High Performance MySQL by Jeremy D. Zawodny and Derek J. Balling (O'Reilly)
Honorable Mention: The Definitive Guide to MySQL by Michael Kofler (Apress)
MySQL is one of the areas where every publisher seems to have a hat in the ring. There are very few books that truly stand out on the crowded shelf. One such title is High Performance MySQL, which gives the intermediate-to-advanced MySQL user some of the best practices for maintaining MySQL; however, it's not for the beginner. Someone new to MySQL should look for a more basic title of which there are many, including one written by the lead author of this article.
We were unable to come to a consensus on an essential title for a new MySQL administrator. A number of titles exist and each seems to have its own set of flaws. The Definitive Guide to MySQL published by Apress provides a rounded look at MySQL and may be worth a more serious look for the new MySQL administrator, which is why the book garnered an Honorable Mention in this category.
Essential Titles: Apache: The Definitive Guide by Ben Laurie and Peter Laurie (O'Reilly)
Pro Apache by Peter Wainwright (Apress)
Honorable Mention: Apache Cookbook by Ken Coar and Rich Bowen (O'Reilly)
Serving both beginner and intermediate (leaning to advanced) readers alike, Apache: The Definitive Guide is a good book for those looking to implement Apache to serve the Web. This book includes everything from installation to administration to writing Apache modules. The Apress release, Pro Apache, is another excellent title for the new-to-intermediate Apache administrator.
In late 2003, O'Reilly released the Apache Cookbook, providing recipes for common tasks related to Apache Web serving. If you're comfortable with Apache installation and the theory of Apache administration and want to just get the answers, this is a great resource.
The reviewers would like to see a high- performance Apache-type book come forth within the next year from any publisher. The book should include advanced Apache-related tasks and other considerations for using Apache in a demanding environment.
Essential Title: DNS & BIND by Paul Albitz and Cricket Liu (O'Reilly)
Honorable Mention: None
BIND is the most popular DNS server used on the Internet. It makes sense to have a volume that contains not only information on BIND but also on DNS. DNS & BIND provides just that, giving the reader an overview of how DNS works together with how to implement DNS using BIND. The first two chapters of this book should be required reading for anyone performing any computer-related support or administration. O'Reilly also has a cookbook-style title, aptly named DNS & BIND Cookbook by Cricket Liu, for those who already know DNS but just want to make something work in BIND.
Essential Title: None
Honorable Mention: Numerous
Probably the broadest category in this article is the area of Linux security. No single title in this area offers a good source covering everything from intrusion detection to system hardening to secure system administration methods. Some titles try (and fail) to be that elusive one-stop shop for Linux security, but all seem to either lack real-world experience or only scratch the surface of the needs of an administrator. Both of these aspects are key to computer security and it was difficult to find any titles that we could call essential.
Like so many other categories, it seems as if every publisher has a book on Snort for intrusion detection yet no publishers have in-depth coverage of GrSecurity. In other words, you'll learn how to set up Snort but not how to secure the machine from which Snort runs. Some titles insult the reader by including information about the security of e-mail and other nonessential issues that any reader of that title should know already.
All isn't lost, however. Of the titles under consideration, Network Intrusion Detection by Stephen Northcutt and Judy Novak, published by New Riders, stands out as providing an excellent base for an administrator to learn the concepts of intrusion detection. While it doesn't cover intrusion detection software such as Snort, it does belong on the intrusion analyst's bookshelf for the valuable information about common types of attacks that the analyst might see on the network.
The problem is that security is so much more than intrusion detection or disabling unnecessary services in inetd.conf. Titles such as Beyond Fear and Secrets and Lies... by Bruce Schneier give the reader a not-necessarily technical grounding to help consider the risks and costs associated with the field of security. These books have useful information and, thanks to Schneier's writing style, are quite easy reads as well. We consider these titles to be essential reading for anyone trying to secure anything.
The category of Linux and open source security is in need of a good, definitive title on the subject that combines a deep understanding of the concepts of security as well as real-world experience on what works and what doesn't work in the area of Linux security.
Essential Title: The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide by John H. Terpstra and Jelmer R. Vernooij (Prentice Hall PTR)
Honorable Mention: Using Samba by Jay Ts, et al (O'Reilly)
Part of the Bruce Perens Open Source series, The Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide is an essential title due to the breadth of information covered in the book. This is not a cookbook with recipe-style solutions to using Samba; it's a definitive volume that will enable the reader to not only create a complete Samba installation but also to understand the workings behind Samba.
Using Samba garners honorable mention in this category for being an easily accessible guide to configuring Samba. Just about everything that an administrator would need to do in order to configure Samba is included in this book.
You may have noticed some subject areas are completely missing from this article. For some areas there simply isn't any one title that stands out as essential. Rather than suggest a lesser title, we would prefer to leave those areas uncovered in the hopes of finding that essential title for later inclusion.
Essential Title: Open
We expected to find a title that stood out above the rest in the area of PHP development. There are numerous titles that are good, likewise there are at least equally as many bad books on PHP development. If we had to choose a title here, we would lean toward those publishers who have historically been strong in Linux development, Addison-Wesley/Prentice Hall PTR and O'Reilly. Prentice Hall PTR has two titles that are worth a closer look: PHP 5 Power Programming by Andi Gutmans, Stig Bakken, and Derick Rethans; and Core PHP Programming by Leon Atkinson and Zeev Suraski. Both cover PHP 5 as does Beginning PHP 5 and MySQL by W. J. Gilmore, published by Apress. The Apress title arrived too late for us to fully review but it appears promising nonetheless.
Linux Desktop Administration
Essential Title: Open
We were unable to find any titles that covered enterprise administration of the Linux desktop. While there are numerous Linux desktop titles, none includes extensive coverage for an enterprise wishing to use Linux in a large-scale deployment.
Conversion to Linux and OSS from Windows
Essential Title: Open
These titles are just starting to appear. We hope that within the next 12 months books will appear that cover enterprise conversions from Windows to Linux for various applications such as IIS to Apache, Exchange to Sendmail or Postfix, SQL Server to MySQL, and so on.
The Essential Titles 2005
Creating the list of the essential titles was a lengthy and time-consuming task. We look forward to hearing your feedback on our essential titles and improving and expanding upon them for next year.
As enterprises work to take advantage of Big Data technologies, they frequently become distracted by product-level decisions. In most new Big Data builds this approach is completely counter-productive: it presupposes tools that may not be a fit for development teams, forces IT to take on the burden of evaluating and maintaining unfamiliar technology, and represents a major up-front expense. In his session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Andrew Warfield, CTO and Co-Founder of Coho Data, will dis...
Feb. 6, 2016 07:15 PM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Fusion, a leading provider of cloud services, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Fusion, a leading provider of integrated cloud solutions to small, medium and large businesses, is the industry's single source for the cloud. Fusion's advanced, proprietary cloud service platform enables the integration of leading edge solutions in the cloud, including clou...
Feb. 6, 2016 03:30 PM EST Reads: 703
With the Apple Watch making its way onto wrists all over the world, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes a staple in the workplace. In fact, Forrester reported that 68 percent of technology and business decision-makers characterize wearables as a top priority for 2015. Recognizing their business value early on, FinancialForce.com was the first to bring ERP to wearables, helping streamline communication across front and back office functions. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Kevin Roberts...
Feb. 6, 2016 03:15 PM EST Reads: 322
SYS-CON Events announced today that Commvault, a global leader in enterprise data protection and information management, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7–9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY, and the 19th International Cloud Expo, which will take place on November 1–3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA. Commvault is a leading provider of data protection and information management...
Feb. 6, 2016 02:30 PM EST Reads: 350
SYS-CON Events announced today that Alert Logic, Inc., the leading provider of Security-as-a-Service solutions for the cloud, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Alert Logic, Inc., provides Security-as-a-Service for on-premises, cloud, and hybrid infrastructures, delivering deep security insight and continuous protection for customers at a lower cost than traditional security solutions. Ful...
Feb. 6, 2016 01:30 PM EST Reads: 338
SYS-CON Events announced today that VAI, a leading ERP software provider, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. VAI (Vormittag Associates, Inc.) is a leading independent mid-market ERP software developer renowned for its flexible solutions and ability to automate critical business functions for the distribution, manufacturing, specialty retail and service sectors. An IBM Premier Business Part...
Feb. 6, 2016 01:00 PM EST Reads: 536
The cloud promises new levels of agility and cost-savings for Big Data, data warehousing and analytics. But it’s challenging to understand all the options – from IaaS and PaaS to newer services like HaaS (Hadoop as a Service) and BDaaS (Big Data as a Service). In her session at @BigDataExpo at @ThingsExpo, Hannah Smalltree, a director at Cazena, will provide an educational overview of emerging “as-a-service” options for Big Data in the cloud. This is critical background for IT and data profes...
Feb. 6, 2016 11:00 AM EST Reads: 112
With an estimated 50 billion devices connected to the Internet by 2020, several industries will begin to expand their capabilities for retaining end point data at the edge to better utilize the range of data types and sheer volume of M2M data generated by the Internet of Things. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Don DeLoach, CEO and President of Infobright, will discuss the infrastructures businesses will need to implement to handle this explosion of data by providing specific use cases for filte...
Feb. 6, 2016 11:00 AM EST
Fortunately, meaningful and tangible business cases for IoT are plentiful in a broad array of industries and vertical markets. These range from simple warranty cost reduction for capital intensive assets, to minimizing downtime for vital business tools, to creating feedback loops improving product design, to improving and enhancing enterprise customer experiences. All of these business cases, which will be briefly explored in this session, hinge on cost effectively extracting relevant data from ...
Feb. 6, 2016 09:00 AM EST
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute, owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2015 at the Javits Center in New York, New York. Interoute is the owner-operator of one of Europe's largest networks and a global cloud services platform which encompasses 12 data centers, 14 virtual data centers and 31 colocation centers, with connections to 195 ad...
Feb. 6, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 327
Most people haven’t heard the word, “gamification,” even though they probably, and perhaps unwittingly, participate in it every day. Gamification is “the process of adding games or game-like elements to something (as a task) so as to encourage participation.” Further, gamification is about bringing game mechanics – rules, constructs, processes, and methods – into the real world in an effort to engage people. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Robert Endo, owner and engagement manager of Intrepid D...
Feb. 5, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 769
Eighty percent of a data scientist’s time is spent gathering and cleaning up data, and 80% of all data is unstructured and almost never analyzed. Cognitive computing, in combination with Big Data, is changing the equation by creating data reservoirs and using natural language processing to enable analysis of unstructured data sources. This is impacting every aspect of the analytics profession from how data is mined (and by whom) to how it is delivered. This is not some futuristic vision: it's ha...
Feb. 2, 2016 02:00 PM EST Reads: 401
WebRTC has had a real tough three or four years, and so have those working with it. Only a few short years ago, the development world were excited about WebRTC and proclaiming how awesome it was. You might have played with the technology a couple of years ago, only to find the extra infrastructure requirements were painful to implement and poorly documented. This probably left a bitter taste in your mouth, especially when things went wrong.
Feb. 2, 2016 04:30 AM EST Reads: 838
Learn how IoT, cloud, social networks and last but not least, humans, can be integrated into a seamless integration of cooperative organisms both cybernetic and biological. This has been enabled by recent advances in IoT device capabilities, messaging frameworks, presence and collaboration services, where devices can share information and make independent and human assisted decisions based upon social status from other entities. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Michael Heydt, founder of Seamless...
Feb. 1, 2016 05:00 AM EST Reads: 919
The IoT's basic concept of collecting data from as many sources possible to drive better decision making, create process innovation and realize additional revenue has been in use at large enterprises with deep pockets for decades. So what has changed? In his session at @ThingsExpo, Prasanna Sivaramakrishnan, Solutions Architect at Red Hat, discussed the impact commodity hardware, ubiquitous connectivity, and innovations in open source software are having on the connected universe of people, thi...
Jan. 31, 2016 09:00 PM EST Reads: 715
WebRTC: together these advances have created a perfect storm of technologies that are disrupting and transforming classic communications models and ecosystems. In his session at WebRTC Summit, Cary Bran, VP of Innovation and New Ventures at Plantronics and PLT Labs, provided an overview of this technological shift, including associated business and consumer communications impacts, and opportunities it may enable, complement or entirely transform.
Jan. 31, 2016 07:15 PM EST Reads: 1,135
There are so many tools and techniques for data analytics that even for a data scientist the choices, possible systems, and even the types of data can be daunting. In his session at @ThingsExpo, Chris Harrold, Global CTO for Big Data Solutions for EMC Corporation, showed how to perform a simple, but meaningful analysis of social sentiment data using freely available tools that take only minutes to download and install. Participants received the download information, scripts, and complete end-t...
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 1,194
For manufacturers, the Internet of Things (IoT) represents a jumping-off point for innovation, jobs, and revenue creation. But to adequately seize the opportunity, manufacturers must design devices that are interconnected, can continually sense their environment and process huge amounts of data. As a first step, manufacturers must embrace a new product development ecosystem in order to support these products.
Jan. 31, 2016 10:00 AM EST Reads: 796
Manufacturing connected IoT versions of traditional products requires more than multiple deep technology skills. It also requires a shift in mindset, to realize that connected, sensor-enabled “things” act more like services than what we usually think of as products. In his session at @ThingsExpo, David Friedman, CEO and co-founder of Ayla Networks, discussed how when sensors start generating detailed real-world data about products and how they’re being used, smart manufacturers can use the dat...
Jan. 30, 2016 07:45 PM EST Reads: 768
When it comes to IoT in the enterprise, namely the commercial building and hospitality markets, a benefit not getting the attention it deserves is energy efficiency, and IoT’s direct impact on a cleaner, greener environment when installed in smart buildings. Until now clean technology was offered piecemeal and led with point solutions that require significant systems integration to orchestrate and deploy. There didn't exist a 'top down' approach that can manage and monitor the way a Smart Buildi...
Jan. 30, 2016 03:45 PM EST Reads: 1,258