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Book Review: NetBSD 1.6 - Installieren, Konfigurieren, Administrieren

By Hubert Feyrer

NetBSD 1.6 - Installieren, Konfigurieren, Administrieren
Computer & Literatur Verlag
850 pages
German language
49,90 EUR
ISBN: 3-936546-00-2
"Thick" is the first impression that came to my mind when I saw C&L's new NetBSD book, and flipping to it, it really contains a lot of topics in great detail. The book is advertized to be written by "members of the NetBSD Foundation and experienced users", and the content show that. It's not only touching each topic, but goes into many details which results in a lot of information on the 850 pages. Even I as a (well :-) long-time NetBSD user learned a bunch of things I didn't know before.

The book starts by giving some historic background on NetBSD, BSD and Unix in general, then goes into describing the installation in detail. It's not just a walk-through of sysinst with some screenshots, but also many hints are given for preparing harddisk layout or doing a network-based install as an alternative. And most importantly, it's not PC-only but contains nice information about installing NetBSD on mac68k, amiga, sparc and DECstations.

After installing the operating system, basic customizing of the system as well as the kernel are covered next, followed by an user-oriented description of NetBSD's packages system. Networking is an important topic in NetBSD, and it covers a wide range of topics in the next chapter: starting with basics for IPv4, routing, firewalling and setting up various services like SSH, FTP, sendmail & NIS (to name a few), it then goes into more details on how to use NetBSD with dial-up over POTS, ISDN and DSL. Nice additions are using WaveLAN, as well as a chapter on implementing VPNs, which are then followed by detailed descriptions of file exchange via NFS, samba and netatalk.

Going back from network services to the operating system itself, the book continues with a description of "the shell". The chapter describes various concepts of common shells as well as how to use them. Next, users who are new to Unix/NetBSD get an overview of commands available and how to use them to achieve various tasks. Of course, one of the most important components of a desktop machine here are the graphical user interface as well as printing, and each of these topics get their own chapters too. For printing, setup of the "traditional" LP system, ghostscript, Magic Filter as well as CUPS are discussed, covering both command line tools as well as (for CUPS) the available graphical configuration tools.

The last chapter introduces GUI (web) based administration of NetBSD using the "webmin" system. Chapters describing the source tree layout of NetBSD, how to setup network clients for diskless operation as well as a description of the CD that comes with the book round up the whole text.

Speaking of the CD that comes with the book, it contains a Live version of NetBSD that -- similar to Knoppix known in Linux-land -- boots the system from CD and doesn't need any installation on harddisk.

Judging the book, I like it. It covers many things in depths, and while doing so adds many small "items" one does or does not know, and even with some experience in several areas, one still learns new things with it.

Organisation of the chapters inside the book could have been sorted different to make reading in one go easier to users new to the system and who won't jump to specific chapters to get information on that topic. All in all, the book is great for both experienced users as well as those who are new to the NetBSD operating system. Thumbs up!

More information, table of contents and sample chapter at


Discuss this article below.

NetBSD book - john duncan
Translation - Andrea Rossignoli
English? - Richard Rauch
English would have been nice - Ben

NetBSD book
john duncan - February 13, 2003 00:16:01
Good, Long have I wanted to have a look at NetBSD and if this book is translated to English it would be the help I need to start me off.

Andrea Rossignoli - February 13, 2003 03:34:23
Hi, I don't understand why the book was written in German. It will limit the number of readers. I like NetBSD and I'd buy this book without any doubts, but it's in German.

Frankly I'm a bit surprised and I hope a translation will be done soon... So Hubert...any chance to see an English version of it ? ;-)

:-) Andrea from Italy

Richard Rauch - February 13, 2003 18:52:04
My first impression was also, "I wish that it were in English." Then I decided that I was being ethnocentric and wandered away. I came back today to see two others also wishing that it were in English...

Okay, I won't buy the German version. I can't read German, so the German version would just be a cute tropy to put on a shelf. (Well, it could also serve as an impetus to learn to read German. Maybe in a year, I could start to read this book? (^&)

I'm not holding my breath for an English translation. Think about it: There are multiple authors, and a translation must not only be clear but also technically accurate and (one hopes) reflective of the original German edition. You need a good confluence of skills and a lot of work to pull that off. (^&

Mind...if there *were* an English translation, and it looked like it was well done, I would probably buy it. It sounds like a good book.

P.S. To John: A book on NetBSD is *hardly* necessary in order to start using the OS. If you have an interest in it, burn a CD, install the OS, and join in.. I've been using the OS for about 5 years and have yet to lay hands on a book about NetBSD (and very few even mention it in passing).

P.P.S.: It would have been nice to see the list of authors for the book... Though it is kind of a moot point for those of us who can't read German. (^&

English would have been nice
Ben - March 26, 2003 18:23:57
I've been using NetBSD for a long time and don't feel a need for an 800 page book. The classic Unix System Administration Handbook (by Nemeth, et al.) is all I've ever needed. However, I could see the value of having such a tome to hand out to my friends or relatives who might need an introduction to basic Unix as well as to administering a system. Too bad they didn't write it in English. (Or are there more German speaking NetBSD users than English speaking? Perhaps the pity is that this review was written in English.)





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September 16, 2013 11:24:31

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