OH YEAH! Another book review, and one on one of my favorite Linux distributions too!
Pakt Pub contacted me to do a review on their new CentOS 6 book, and boy was I excited at the chance. First of all, I generally like Pakt Pub‘s books, and second I really dig CentOS! Even better is this is all about using CentOS as a server, and I just happen to use quite a lot of CentOS as my preferred home server platform. And why, you may ask? Well, it very closely mirrors another enterprise level Linux that I use heavily in my professional environment. It’s good stuff.
I found this book particularly reminiscent of a few books I studied from to get my RedHat certs. There is a good bit of material in there – most things that a budging server administrator would want to know how to do, and it is formatted in a “recipe” format, which makes it fairly easy for readers to piece mail through if they are looking to do something specific in a hurry. I really like that kind of format because, lets face it, most of us have precious little time these days and reading line by line though technical materials is not usually high on our lists of things to spend our time on. Thankfully, as I said before, it’s easy to get to pertinent info here, and the writing is not really too dry or overly technical to begin with.
The book starts right out where it should by helping you not only download CentOS (for free of course), but also gives you example and instruction on several different installation methods. This is particularly useful for more advanced users because there are significant time savers to be had by using minimal and text method installs that most Linux books leave out. From there we are off to recipes for basic configuration changes like changing SELinux, IP addresses, time zone settings and the like. This is followed by a bunch of basic administrative info like using cron, starting services, package management and helping to secure your environment, before really focusing on what I like to refer to as the big 5 applications: Samba, Bind, MySQL, Mail and Apache. These are all covered in their own chapters, giving them plenty of room to address common specific topics and options. The only thing I found at all out of place is the last chapter which deals with FTP. I might be a little jilted here but it has been my experience that ftp usage is being deprecated in most places. But for those of you who do actually use it, this book covers setting up and using VSFTP, which can be daunting to get going without a little well written help, which this chapter *does* provide.
All in all, I find this a well written book covering what most system admins would really be looking for info on. In fact, this is one I really wish they had sent me in a paper edition so I could more easily loan it around to friends and coworkers whom, I am sure would find it helpful! At only $25.50 for the digital edition it would be silly for anyone new or unfamiliar with CentOS not to grab a copy before diving in. It will surely save you some time and aggravation and provide you with a good reference for future service additions and changes. It gets a nice thumbs up from me!