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Linux Server Hacks Rob Flickenger
Published by O'Reilly and Associates
240 pages
£ 17.50
Published: 31st January 2003
reviewed by Mike Smith
   in the June 2003 issue (pdf), (html)

This book is written by Rob Flickenger, of NoCatAuth fame (and now NoCatSplash), and if anything, I think its better than the Google one. Again there are several (8, in fact) sections - this time covering things from basic Linux, through networking, scripting and some specific sections for backups and monitoring.

I have only one claim to fame, as some people who know me will be aware - I was a technical reviewer for the O'Reilly SSH book (along with Dug Song and others). There is a section on SSH so I headed straight for it. There are some fairly elementary hints - for instance how to setup ssh-agent, tunnel X11 and do port forwarding. Good to get you started anyway.

There are tips on a number of tools - stuff like ntop, lsof, ngrep, rsync etc. You know, all the good ones. I hadn't come across ``watch'' before - that's quite good, and simple.

There's a chapter on three applications in common use on Linux: Bind, MySQL and Apache. There's some good information in here, like using Views in Bind 9 - but I'm not sure I'd trust this in high security invironments - to deliver one domain view to the Internet, and another internally (in the past I've done this completely separately). For the paranoid, maybe keep away from Bind anyway. The MySQL tips are good too - with some excellent hacks to glibc, kernel and MySQL for performance - not for faint-hearted !

What else? Well there is information on mod_proxy and mod_rewrite which does the same sort of thing as layer 7 switching on Alteon loadbalancers (and similar). Various ways to tunnel (IPIP, vtun etc), a bit on chroot, and the list goes on.

There some light-hearted comments, and I did notice one typographical error which amused me - an instruction to type ``99<Enter>''. Lets hope the newsletter preserves this [I think we succeeded (Ed)], or the moment will be lost for me when I re-read it.

There's also a chapter on RCS and CVS. It's a good idea for the SysAdmin to make use of these tools (CVS mainly, these days) for maintaing versions of config files, though I must admit I never have.

Summary Thankfully I didn't get the third book in the series (as it currently stands) - it might just have given me an excuse to buy a mac (not that I don't want one, its just a money issue!) I do like these books - short, to the point and revelant - just like my book reviews ;) I've just realised (reading the back cover) that they are also trying to reclaim the word Hack for its original meaning (obvious, really, when you think about it). Excellent.

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