The NetBSD book

by Michael W. Lucas

updated October 30, 2004

I'm putting up this Web page in an effort to answer the questions that are coming in about this book. If I sent you a brief email containing only a "hi, look here", it's not only that I'm a rude bastard, it's that I don't have time to answer your question personally and actually write the book. So, in short:

  • Yes, I am writing a NetBSD book.

  • It has a publisher, No Starch Press

  • The working title is "Absolute NetBSD: Some Clever Subtitle." (After Absolute BSD and Absolute OpenBSD, it seemed the obvious title.) While I'd like the subtitle to be "UNIX for your toaster", well, I am not aware of any toaster where you can get a command prompt. (There are toaster cases with computers inside them, mind you, but none you actually get toast out of. Yes, my standards are high.)

  • Expected publication date is some time 2005. This was originally 2005, but family medical problems prevented me from spending the time necessary to do the job correctly. All I can say is, expectations were made to be broken; sorry. As NetBSD 2.0 is finally just about complete, this makes more sense anyway; publishing a book on 1.6 when 2.0 is coming out is a bad move.

  • I am currently researching the book, and am taking voluminous notes. While I've run NetBSD for years, there's a difference between "it works here" and "I need to understand deeply enough to write authoritatively on this subject in a manner useful in the real world as opposed to what the man pages say." (No, I'm not picking on the man pages, but man pages have a different purpose, approach, and style than a book.)

  • Yes, the book will contain some overlap with my earlier books. The basics of how to use a hard disk or how /etc/rc.conf works don't change from BSD to BSD, after all, yet I cannot insist you buy another book to use this one. (I suppose I could insist, but I would prefer to think that if you buy one you will be so impressed that you will rush to the store and demand that they provide you with the others.)

  • While running NetBSD is pretty much the same on any architecture, installing isn't always the same. I'll certainly be discussing installing on i386, Sparc64 (thanks to David O'Brien), Alpha, and hpcarm. A very kind NetBSD fan sent me an Amiga system, and I'm pondering if that's worthwhile to put into the book. (While it's definitely cool, Amiga hardware isn't that easy to come by.)

  • NetBSD runs on so many architectures that if I tried to cover them all, the book would a) be several thousand pages, b) take ten years to write, and c) require me to put an addition on my house to keep all the hardware in. I want to cover a few representative architectures, but that's it.

  • If you want me to cover another architecture, drop me a note and suggest it. I'm certainly open to thoughtful, reasoned suggestions. (Spamming me with suggestions won't help, though. :-) The chances of me covering an architecture will increase greatly if someone sends me the hardware.

    I would like to include a basic install CDROM. The question is, which architectures would it contain? I'm not going to ship all of the architectures on half a dozen CDROMs, but I'd like to do better than i386-only.

  • Yes, I'm a FreeBSD committer. Despite what you might hear on Slashdot at -1, the various BSD committers get along fairly well. At USENIX 2003, I spent an evening with a dozen NetBSD, FreeBSD, and OpenBSD developers in a hallway. Not only did everyone get along, but there was active interest in each others' approaches. The reports of knife fights among BSD developers are vastly overstated; nobody has been killed in at least three months.

    Thank you for your interest in this book. I will update this page further as events warrant. I expect that events will not warrant that very often until I actually have some readable text on pieces of paper. In the meantime, why not check out my FreeBSD or OpenBSD books?

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    copyright 2003 Michael W Lucas Jr. All rights reserved