Kevin Kinsey wrote:
Michael M. wrote:
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 Specifically, I'm looking for advice about what might be too outdated to be useful (or worse, might end up being more confusing than helpful) and what isn't. From looking around and lurking here for a while, the books that look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?

Well, I can understand, to some extent, where you're coming from.
It's much easier to justify throwing the book down beside the bed
when you're about to doze off, as opposed to, say, a new laptop.

Recently, "Grog" Lehey released "The Complete FreeBSD" under the
Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license.
Source is available, as well as a PDF document.

I'm sure he'd appreciate it if you buy a paper copy, but you
could print your own, also:

I would much prefer to buy a paper copy, I was really wondering if the paper copy is too outdated to be of use or so outdated that it might get me in trouble. I imagine there's lots of things that haven't changed much at all -- more in the vein of "concepts" and "principles" if not nitty-gritty specifics.

There are many things I would know to watch out for, mostly userland/GUI apps and software. I'm not worried, for example, about instructions for configuring the X server being out of date. I've already gone through the transition to 7.0 from 6.9 on a couple of Linux distros, and I don't think FreeBSD 6.1 is using 7.0 yet. So if the book goes into detail about configuring XFree86, that's not a big deal. I'm more concerned about messing up on things about which I don't know any better, but even there I can always check the updates and the current handbook online before I monkey around too much. It's just that if there's *too* much of that, then the usefulness of the printed book is questionable.

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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