Review: A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux - Fifth Edition
Source: LinuxSecurity Contributors - Posted by Dave Wreski   
Book Reviews Mark Sobell again delivers the answers to common Linux administration challenges, and provides thorough and step-by-step instructions to configuring many of the common Linux Internet services in A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Fifth Edition.

Title: A Practical Guide to Fedora and Red Hat Enterprise Linux - Fifth Edition
Author: Mark G. Sobell
ISBN: 978-0-13-706088-7
Reviewer: Dave Wreski <dwreski@guardiandigital.com>
Review Score: 4.0 of 5 Penguins
Publisher: Prentice Hall Professional (informit.com/sams)
Sample Chapter: Chapter Three Excerpt

This book covers topics that appeal to all readers—everything from configuring the command shell, to setting up Apache and Samba with all of the most common options, as well as breaking down every aspect of the KDE and GNOME desktop and teaching you how to use it.

Every one of the eleven-hundred pages are chock full of information, developed over years of experience and four previous editions. It’s a great command reference as well as a configuration guide for even the most difficult configurations, including LVM disk management, printing, reconfiguring the Linux kernel, and setting up a firewall.

This book creates awareness for an individual interested in configuring and using Linux but does not know that “yum” is the preferred method for updating the system packages, and provides the user with a complete reference on exactly how and when to use it.

Any reference that describes LinuxSecurity.com as “solid” can’t be all bad. If you intend on installing Fedora and sticking with one of the graphical interfaces, there’s still a lot in this book you will benefit from, but the real value is in the comprehensive reference on expanding beyond that single-user system into setting up a home office or department server for business on the cheap. The best feature about this book is its utility. While aimed at more of a beginner level, it provides all the information a newbie would need should he or she run into problems with configuring a system.

Chances are the new Linux user would start with one of the graphical system management tools that are available, such as those for configuring Samba, Apache, or iptables. Should there arise some difficulty with those front-ends, this book would make a great reference to investigate the problem further, determine where the problem actually is occurring, and steps to take to troubleshoot and fix it using his complete examples as a reference to something that’s known to work properly. If you haven’t done much command-line programming, such as with perl or bash, then this book is a great place to start. There’s a full chapter on how perl works, and at least one chapter on programming with bash, and another on just system administration with bash.

Although its coverage of perl is somewhat basic, the book describes the control structures, data types, subroutines, and a very basic regular expression syntax. By the end of the perl chapter you should be able to get started with perl and probably search through a log file with some basic pattern matching. There is also a full chapter on pattern matching itself, with a nice appendix and summary of the different types of regular expressions, character classes, and more. A section specifically on security is included, but only as an appendix.

While I understand that security is pervasive—Sobell has included security techniques and comments throughout the book, a more involved and dedicated chapter would have been appreciated, particularly from someone that’s reviewing the book for LinuxSecurity.com. There is a section on iptables and OpenSSH, as well as performing regular system updates, and an overview of permissions and the root user. There is only a brief mention of SELinux, however.

A lot of reliance is placed on Fedora doing the right thing, and keeping the administrator from creating a security vulnerability. More involved security discussions require a book specifically for that purpose.

Mark Sobell has again written an authoritative reference on a complex topic. His expertise in this area really shows here, and the information in this guide will be valuable well beyond the current version for which it covers.

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