I've been using various Linux distros and OS X for a while now, and Windows before those, and am interested in trying out FreeBSD. Call me old fashioned, but as an engaged-but-non-technical user, I find it really useful to have at least some accompanying documentation in book form when embarking on something like this. Okay, forget "old-fashioned," just call me "old." :-) Book-learnin' was the only thing we had when I was a yung-un, and it's what I'm used to.

I understand that the be-all-and-end-all of authoritative FreeBSD reference is the online handbook (and, of course, the man pages and docs included with the OS itself). I was wondering if more experienced users could give me a few pointers about the best book supplements for delving into this OS. Specifically, I'm looking for advice about what might be too outdated to be useful (or worse, might end up being more confusing than helpful) and what isn't. From looking around and lurking here for a while, the books that look most promising to me are:

"The Complete FreeBSD, 4th Ed." by Greg Lehey
"FreeBSD 6 Unleashed" by Brian Tiemann
"Absolute BSD" by Michael Lucas
"BSD Hacks" by Dru Lavigne

The latter, at least, seems like something best left for later, if I really stick with it,. Of the first three -- well, the first is the most appealing to me, but it's somewhat more dated than the others (I have seen the regularly posted reminders about online updates). I'm certainly not averse to buying two books; however, I don't want to drown myself -- keeping in mind that I'm not the most technically inclined person and my purpose is to learn to use FreeBSD as a general-purpose desktop system. I've no special or advanced uses in mind, though I am hoping that ultimately learning more about FreeBSD will also have the benefit of teaching me more about making use of the Darwin subsystem of OS X.

Any thoughts, advice, pointers? Anything I missed, especially any general UNIX books that might go well with one of the above?

Much obliged.

p.s. BTW, I did try out DesktopBSD and am quite impressed with it. It seems like there are still some issues to be addressed; still, it's a really nice introductory way to get up and running with a FreeBSD desktop quickly and easily. As a matter of personal preference, I'm not a big KDE fan, so that tempers my enthusiasm somewhat. I don't think it's really a substitute for trying to learn the basics of using and administering FreeBSD, but then that's probably not what it's trying to be. I hope it progresses and gets lots of support.

Michael M. ++ Portland, OR ++ USA
"No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute 
reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream." --S. Jackson

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