OpenBSD Journal

Book Review: Secure Architectures with OpenBSD

Contributed by mk/reverse on from the sliced up dead old trees dept.

Alex notified us about a review of ``Secure Architectures with OpenBSD'', written by Brandon Palmer and Jose Nazario. The review reveals that this is a book targeted at the seasoned Unix user:

Though the first four chapters of Secure Architectures with OpenBSD deal with installation and "basic use," this not a book for beginners. If you don't understand the Unix (Minix; Linux) way that things work and don't know (at least) C, stay away. Palmer and Nazario will confuse you.

(Comments are closed)

  1. By Anonymous Coward(1) ( on

    I thought the book was excellent, but the review was poor and certainly did not do the book justice.

    I encourge anyone who was thinking of buying the book to not be put off by this review.

    1. By hob knob etc ( on


  2. By Hillbilly Johnny Bob Bob Jim Bob (Hob knob jobby Bob Bob) ( HillbillyJohnnyBobBobJimBob AT openbsd DOT org - yep, seriously on

    Yep, I can vouch for the proof-reading fiasco. I've got the book and it's truly woeful. And it's certainly not confined to the first dozen pages. Which is a real pity because it's a real distraction in a book that otherwise offers so much. It also erodes its credibility because you are never sure how many technical details are also flawed. It reminds me of Michael W. Lucas' explanation in Absolute OpenBSD, first page of chapter 6, that BIOS stands for Built-In Operating System. WTF? Worse than unexpanded acronyms are wrong acronyms. (WTF==What the fruit) (It's in the downloadable sample PDF if you don't believe me.) A perfect book otherwise.

    1. By rob ( on

      Yeah, you know your shit, jobby, good call

    2. By Kint ( on

      1. By job job ( on

        dude, that's good shit. but context helps. and defn 1 precedes defn 10. lucky, cos i had this sinking feeling that i'd be feeling like a substantial dumb-ass right about now.

    3. By Simmoril ( on

      I don't think small grammatical errors here and there erode the credibility of the book at all. There's a big difference between saying something the wrong way and saying something that's absolutely wrong.

      All of the errors that the review points out are either grammatical, or things that can answer just as well for you (which is a contradiction, since the reviwer explicitly warns the book will not 'hold your hand', yet he complains the book won't hold his hand through all these 'unknown' acronyms). However, the reviewer fails to point out any fundamental mistakes as in "technical detail xyz in the book is completely false". Have you found any technical details in the book that truly are wrong (and not just quibbles over grammer rules or misspelt words)?

      In any event, isn't this what errata pages are for? O'Reilly's books are some of the best computer books I've ever read and they have quite a few errata pages for them. Does that detract from their credibility at all? I personally don't think so.

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        Remember back when your elementary school teacher told you spelling and grammar weren't really that important as long as you could get your point across? SHE LIED. Presentation is important. It makes you look intelligent or look like a fool. If someone cannot properly proofread a book that's being published, why should I put stock in anything they say?

        1. By Brad ( brad at comstyle dot com on

          So you're saying that a book that has perfect grammar and spelling with little to no useful content is better? Get a clue.

        2. By Simmoril ( on

          Ok, first off, the authors' presentation, while having some minor imperfections, is sound. You make it seem as if any small grammatical or spelling errors completely invalidate the authors' credibility and the book's content. You should be glad that you've never had to read a technical paper before in your life: you want to talk about unreadability? Peruse through citeseer, and see how many papers on there have 'foolish presentations'. You mean to tell me all those researchers sound like fools?

          Secondly, proofreading, by and large, is not an automated process. It's done by humans. Humans make mistakes. Humans miss things. You cannot expect to get every single little thing right in a 544 page book. It's just not possible.

          The funny part here is that this whole argument, much like your criticism of the book, misses the entire point. Which is that these authors have gone out of their way to write a book that cleanly attempts to introduce users to the intricacies of OpenBSD. There aren't really that many books out there devoted solely to OpenBSD, and these two have given their best efforts to fill that void. If you think that these authors are wrong, or that their grammatical mistakes are THAT heinous, then by all means, please pick up a pen and a piece of paper, and show us how it really should be done.

    4. By krosty ( on

      the University of California case, we have BSDI (now Wind River),
      NetBSD, FreeBSD, BSD/OS, Mac OS X, and OpenBSD.

      He names Wind River and BSDI as BSD flavors!! WTF????
      BSD/OS was made by BSDI and then bought by Wind River.
      It should say "... we have BSDI (now Wind River) BSD/OS, ..."
      As you can see, even the reviewer make big mistakes, nobody is perfect.
      Both books (Sec. Archs. and Absolute OBSD.) are great!!

  3. By Chris Walsh ( on

    I was afraid this review might have been written by a relative newb.
    I am happy to see that it was written by a guy who not only knows UNIX bigtime, but who probably reads more books in a month than I do in a year.

    While I disagree with Salus's assertion that knowledge of C is a prerequisite for understanding the book, since I can just about program myself out of a paper bag but could still throughly understand the book, I think he was even-handed overall. Errors of grammar and usage are to be expected from almost any author. The editing and proofreading processes should detect and correct them.

    Note to Addison-Wesley: Feel free to contact me if you need someone to
    eyeball the galleys on the second edition :^)


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