Linux (performance, server, security) related book reviews

I took a vacation recently, which involved heading down to Hobart, for some rest & relaxation. And lots of food (read: oysters, seafood, yum!). I packed my suitcase with some books for some late night reading, and am pleased to provide some form of review.

Linux Server Hacks by Rob Filkenger was definitely interesting. I’d say I found at least 1/4 of the hacks useful, with others probably being common sense (or maybe I already knew them). There were some useful scripts, and overall while this book doesn’t earn a keeper on my shelves, I did take away some useful bits and pieces: xargs tips, looking for setgid/setuid binaries, hdparm tuning, rsync backups, iptables fun, a tool called vtund that I’ve never used, ntop, their very own httptop, and a few more.

Linux Performance Tuning and Capacity Planning by Jason R Fink and Matthew D. Sherer had some rather basic and shallow information, that you’d have learnt as part of the LPI Level One certification at least. There was a section on network tuning as well, which is important with things like NFS. I was hoping I’d see some details about AFS (because I know a very large install base), alas zilch. But there are good bits of basic information, like if you’ve ever wondered what RSS means from the ps output? A good introduction to LVM exists; this book was published in 2001, you hardly notice much about IPV6 in their networking chapters. And afaik, TCP ECN has been enabled by default for a while – sure it caused misery for a while, its all good. This isn’t a keeper on my packed bookshelf.

Linux Security Cookbook by Daniel J. Barrett, Richard E. Silverman, and Robert G. Byrnes seems to be woefully out of date, but maybe its because it was published in 2003. I found the examples of creating PAM-aware applications useful, and there were some good tips about sudo (have you thought that restricting su to a sudo user would be a secure solution? Apparently it isn’t, thought combined with SELinux I’d think otherwise). Yet another non-keeper for the bookshelves, though it’d be helpful if there existed an updated review copy covering SELinux, AppArmor (of which I know nothing about) and a whole lot more new happenings in the last three years.

What I did find as a keeper was: Optimizing Linux(R) Performance: A Hands-On Guide to Linux(R) Performance Tools (HP Professional Series). I’ll review this later as I soak up more of the text.

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  • cos

    I hope you took some non-Linux books to read, too!

    I notice there’s a second Linux Server Hacks out now – I haven’t looked at the first one in ages, but remember it being similarly “hit and miss”, though it’s a good thing to have around to lend to Eager Young Space Cadets and such.

  • yeah, I took Freakonomics (which I picked up at the airport). Also an interesting read.

    Linux Server Hacks does have a second edition it seems, but its not stocked at any of the libraries I’m a member of. What a pity, I guess I might have to take a gander at a book store

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