Welcome to Absolute BSD! This book is a one-stop shop for new UNIX administrators who want to build, configure, and manage dedicated FreeBSD servers. It will also be useful for those folks who want to run FreeBSD on their desktop or combined desktop/server systems.
By the time you finish this book, you should be able to use FreeBSD to provide network services. You should also understand how to manage, patch, and maintain your FreeBSD systems, and have a basic understanding of networking, system security, and software management. We will discuss FreeBSD version 4, which is the version recommended for production use as this book is being released. Most of this book will be applicable to earlier and later versions, as well. Much of this book is also applicable to NetBSD and OpenBSD.
This book is aimed at the new UNIX administrator. Several years ago the new UNIX administrator was already a skilled UNIX user with real programming skills and a degree in computer science, or at least most of one. Today, UNIX-like operating systems are freely available from the Internet and even 12-year-old children can run UNIX, read the source code, and learn enough to intimidate us older folks. As such, I don't expect you to know a huge amount about UNIX before firing it up.
To use this book to its full potential, you should be familiar with some of the basic UNIX commands, such as how to change directories (cd), list files in a directory (ls), and log in with a username and password. If you're not familiar with basic commands and running UNIX from the shell, I recommend you begin with a book like UNIX System Administration Handbook by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Scott Seebass, and Trent R. Hein (Prentice Hall PTR).
You'll also need to know something about PC hardware. (Not a huge amount, mind you, but some.)
For example, it will help to know what an IRQ (interrupt request) is and how to differentiate between a SCSI and IDE hard drive. Your need for hardware knowledge will, of course, depend on the hardware you're using, but if you're interested enough to pick up this book and read this far, you probably have the hardware knowledge that you need. We'll make this a little easier by assuming you're dedicating a system to FreeBSD; very few network servers dual-boot Windows and
FreeBSD, after all!