July 16, 2009
I’ve had a little more free time on my hands than normal, so I’ve been reading some very good books. I assume you come here for IT related stuff, so I’ll leave off books like The Tipping Point and Basilica and go straight to things like Upgrading and Repairing Servers:
I think everyone has probably seen “Upgrading and Repairing PCs” on the shelf of their local Barnes and Noble (heck, it’s in its 18th edition!), but I was unaware of the Servers version (or the Laptops version, for that matter).
I don’t know what I expected, but it really has surpassed it. I skipped the history of the server section because, well, frankly, I don’t care, but even the CPU section is interesting, if a little outdated at this point (the copy I’m reading is 2006, I believe). It is well written, the technical explanations are well done, and unlike most reference books, reading straight through isn’t painful.
This is a big book, and while I fully expect that it’ll take me a while to get through, God help me, I think I’m going to like it.
What brought it to my attention first was that it is one of the very, very few administration books that deal with physically interacting with the servers. There is a section on racks and rackmounting, it talks about the server room, and from the brief browsing I have done of that section so far, it seems alright. Not all-encompassing, maybe, but better than most of what’s out there.
Another book I’ve been reading and really enjoying is Wojciech Kocjan’s Learning NAGIOS 3.0. In the interest of full disclosure, I should say that I was given a copy of this title by the publisher in order to review. I agreed on the condition that I would be honest in my review and not pull punches, if needed. I’m happy to say that it isn’t necessary, because “Learning Nagios 3.0″ is a very handy book.
Written as an introduction to Nagios, it doesn’t require any pre-existing knowledge of the earlier Nagios implementations, which is a nice change for people new to the server monitoring experience.
The examples are clear and straightforward, and Wojciech gives a lot of example scripts that aren’t included in the standard Nagios plugins. This is helpful for people (like me) who write their own nagios checks. The section on “writing nagios plugins the right way” was a great idea. It’s possible to write horrible plugins. Trust me, I know.
The only thing that isn’t covered as deeply as I wish it were (and maybe it’ll be in the next release? ) is configuration management. There are so many better ways to setup a Nagios configuration than the default 4 or 5 files. I’m going to have to write a blog article about it someday. Anyway, Learning Nagios perpetuates the “default” configuration method that technically works, but is a pain to maintain. That is my only complaint.
If you’re new to host monitoring and you want to use Nagios (and chances are good that you should and do), this would be a good book to pick up to help you on your way.
Also on my bookshelf these days is IPv6 Essentials. O’Reilly could not have picked a more appropriate cover animal for this book. This book is about as exciting as you can make IPv6, but it is full of good information.
I’m not sure where the blockage in my brain is located, exactly, but I have a difficult time wrapping my head around the best way to migrate my network from IPv4 to IPv6. Sadly, this book hasn’t helped a lot in that regard. It has helped me come to terms with the reason that NAT isn’t going to be required (answer: there are pre-existing networks that have a specific format that are local only, and non-routable, at least as I understand it). The answer is going to end up being “build an IPv6 lab and play with it”, and when I do that, this book will be with me, but it hasn’t advanced my learning as much as I hoped it might.
If you are utterly unfamiliar with IPv6 (as I was), this book can help with that, but I’m hoping for another book that will explain it in the way that I will “get it”, if you know what I mean. If you know of such a creature, please let me know.
There are the tech books I’ve been spending my time on. I feel like I should also say that editing entries with in-line photos is so so so much easier in WordPress than it ever was in blogger. So hopefully we’ll get more blog entries with pictures in them.