Book Reviews

Book Reviews

© utemov, Fotolia

© utemov, Fotolia

Article from Issue 101/2009
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The Dedicated Server Handbook (Linux Version)

The goal of The Dedicated Server Handbook is to provide you with step-by-step instructions for setting up, configuring, and managing a dedicated server. First, the book's author, Issac Goldstand, looks at the basics of getting a dedicated server, setting up DNS for a domain, and registering your domain, and then he discusses installation, configuration, and the basics of Webmin. Goldstand then revisits DNS, covering the local aspects. Throughout the book, the author addresses the software you are most likely to find on an Internet server, such as FTP, Apache, MYSQL, and email, all discussed through the eyes of Webmin. Don't expect too much detail – this book is a "beginners guide." On the other hand, enough appropriate material is included that it should be possible, with little or no previous experience, to set up a web server quickly. If you can already configure software from the command line, you will get little from this book, even if your goal is to learn how to do it through Webmin.

Because the author does not go into much about what happens at the operating-system level (i.e., what files are being changed and how), novice administrators can quickly get their systems up and running without suffering from information overload.

Still, the author does a fairly nice job of explaining conceptually what is being done; however, if you run into trouble, you won't find much information about troubleshooting.

For a PDF version of this book, check out the website: http://www.thededicatedserverhandbook.com. Per-page, the book is fairly expensive. However, you will save a great deal of time setting up your server, which makes this book worth the money.

Issac Goldstand

eBook, 150 pages

Mirimar Enterprises, 2007

US$ 39.95

dotCrime Manifesto: How to Stop Internet Crime

Simply put: Buy this book!

Despite the sub-title, I wouldn't really call Dot Crime Manifesto a "how-to." Instead of explaining what you need to do to stop Internet crime, this book examines why Internet crime is way it is and often why it is that way. By looking at things at this level, the author makes it easier to identify new methods for decreasing Internet crimes. Still, there are a number of places where the author does suggest what to do to make the Internet safer.

To understand the importance of the topics discussed fully, a certain knowledge of the technical aspects is required, and Phillip Hallam-Baker provides a nice overview of these technical aspects with enough detail to help you grasp the problem.

Each chapter ends with a list of the key points, which provides a nice review of what was covered.

Hallam-Baker examine standard topics, such as spam and phishing, as well as malware like botnets. On the more technical side, he discusses topics such as cryptography and securing your personal information. Throughout the book, the author does not simply present a list of problems and causes. Rather, he also addresses solutions in terms of what processes and concepts lead to better security, including ownership, policies, and standards. He even addresses how security measures like spam blacklists backfire.

In addition to techniques criminals use, the book covers technical aspects of issues, existing problems, and the effect these problems have; common security mechanisms such as HTTP Basic authentication, Wired Equivalent Protocol (WEP), and four-digit PINs were fine in their day, but are no longer sufficient to stop Internet criminals. Fortunately, Hallam-Baker's book will help you understand what you do need be doing to keep your system safe.

Phillip Hallam-Baker

Hardcover, 415 Pages

Addison-Wesley Professional, 2008

ISBN: 978-0321503589

£ 21.99, US$ 29.99, EUR 23.99

How Wikipedia Works: And How You Can Be a Part of It

One thing that really interested me about How Wikipedia Works is that it is not just a book about using Wikipedia, but it also gives you detailed information about how you can best contribute.

Inside the pages of How Wikipedia Works, you find in-depth information about writing and editing articles in addition to administrative aspects such as copyrights, licensing, and fair use.

The book's authors provide an extensive handbook that's understandable for beginners, but also with enough information to help even the most seasoned Wikipedia user. Starting with an introduction to Wikipedia, which includes a history of wikis in general, the book offers a guided tour of Wikipedia contents and policies, all of which lay a good foundation for you to become an active Wikipedian.

Next, the book addresses the more technical aspects of editing, including wiki syntax and good practices in researching and writing articles. There's even a chapter discussing "clean-up" of existing articles.

In the third part, "Community," more organizational or administrative topics, such as communication within the Wikipedia community and Wikipedia "policy," are covered. I particularly appreciated the chapter covering unpleasant issues with Wikipedia – getting blocked or banned and the dispute process. Unfortunately, these things happen, so it's good to have the problems discussed in a balanced way.

Another thing I particularly liked was that editing topics went beyond just descriptions of things like wiki syntax, diving into more in-depth questions, such as when to use a foreign language place name or when to use the English.

Throughout the book you'll find links to "Further Reading," which point you to specific articles on the Wikipedia website.Because this book covers a wide range of intertwined topics, it could use a better index than it currently has. Fortunately, this does not detract too much from the great value of this book in helping readers understand and participate in the world of Wikipedia.

The book was released under the GNU free documentation license and is available as HTML for offline reading at: http://howwikipediaworks.com/.

Read it online at: http://howwikipediaworks.com/pr02.html.

Phoebe Ayers, Charles Matthews, and Ben Yates

Paperback, 536 Pages

No Starch Press, 2008

ISBN: 978-1593271763

£ 21.49, US$ 29.95, EUR 23.99

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