AF3e Status, 17 July 2017

For those who are watching me write the third edition of “Absolute FreeBSD,” here’s where things stand.

It’s at 77,400 words. 7 of 24 chapters exist [edit: oops, typo, not “chapter sexist,” spellcheckers are useless] as first drafts. Three more chapters are partially finished.

The current outline looks like this. Chapter titles subject to change. For reference, the ideal chapter length of a No Starch book is about 5000 words.

0 – Introduction (7500 words, d1 done)
1 – Getting More Help
2 – Pre-Install Considerations (4900 words)
3 – Installing (write last, because screenshots are evil)
4 – Booting (8300 words, SOL hates me)
5 – Backups
6 – Kernel
7 – Networking (8800 words, d1 done)
8 – Configuring Ethernet (7700 words, d1 done)
9 – Security
10 – Partitioning & GEOM (10700 words, d1 done)
11 – UFS (8000 words)
12 – ZFS
13 – Other Filesystems
14 – More Security
15 – /etc
16 – Packages (8600 words, d1 done)
17 – Ports (6800 words, d1 done)
18 – Software Management
19 – Upgrading
20 – Small System Services
21 – Performance
22 – Jails (6100 words, d1 done)
23 – Misc Crap
24 – Panics & Bugs

Why write in this order?

When writing a large book, I always write the hard parts first. This means the book gets easier as it goes on. I don’t waste time or energy dreading That Topic.

It also means that I can write the really easy stuff when I literally cannot write the difficult stuff. I went to London, Ontario last weekend and was able to spend a few hours writing. I didn’t have my test lab, but I could sit on the front porch and write the Introduction.

Some of these chapters are difficult because of the research and testing. IPMI Serial over LAN is really ticking me off right now. I’m sure there’s a minor setting that I’m missing, and that once I find it everything will fall into place. Finding that setting will tell me what I don’t know, and let me explain and provide context. People buy my books for context. So, the product here is my frustration and suffering.

Some of these chapters are difficult because I’ve done too much research. I get a chapter on ZFS? Cool. But Allan Jude and I wrote two entire books on ZFS. Distilling that down to one-sixteenth the length, while providing context, and not shamelessly shilling those two books? Ugh.

Why these topics?

Because that’s what FreeBSD sysadmins must know.

Some of you will ask “where is bhyve?” Fair question. The bhyve developers are actively rototilling bhyve configuration. If I write a bhyve chapter now, it will be obsolete before the book hits print. That’s bad Including a bhyve chapter depends entirely on the bhyve devs.

If the bhyve devs settle on a configuration before the end of October, I’ll squeeze a chapter in after the jails chapter.

If they don’t, then you’ll have to wait for FreeBSD Mastery: Bhyve.

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