The Six Prequels to “FreeBSD Mastery: Jails”

I’ve said a few times that I needed to write six books before I could write FreeBSD Mastery: Jails. Some were for the reader, because I didn’t want to take a break from the jails content to explain a seemingly unrelated topic. Some were for me, because I didn’t know everything I needed about a topic to effectively cover jails.

I thought which six books those were was obvious. I have heard from more than one person that it’s not. I chose to not put a title-by-title course of study in the front of the jails book. Seems I was wrong about that as well.

So: without further ado, here are the six prequels to FreeBSD Mastery: Jails.

  • Networking for Systems Administrators

    People want to bridge their jails, or VNET them, or NAT them, or otherwise play tricks with their network. You can’t set up a virtual switch if you don’t understand what a switch is. You can’t network your jails if you don’t understand netmasks. Every time your first virtual network grows, you have to troubleshoot everything.

  • FreeBSD Mastery: Storage Essentials

    Jails are all about storage. You can implement one or two jails without knowing what you’re doing, but eventually they’ll ruin your day.

  • FreeBSD Mastery: ZFS
    FreeBSD Mastery: Advanced ZFS

    ZFS is incredibly jail-friendly. It doesn’t suit all deployments, but if you want to implement jails at scale you’re almost certainly exploiting ZFS.

  • FreeBSD Mastery: Specialty Filesystems

    Any non-trivial jail implementation requires understanding devfs, nullfs, and memory filesystems. Many use iSCSI, NFS, and/or autofs. By the time I put all that in a book, I might as well add in namespace filesystems and HAST and completely cover special-purpose filesystems.

  • Absolute FreeBSD, 3rd Edition

    By the time I wrote all of the above, FreeBSD had changed enough that the second edition wouldn’t suffice.

Yes, I planned this. Every book I write is ordered internally in much the same way. I look at the material for each chapter and say “What must the reader understand before reading this?” I often revisit my chapters as needed, or even split them. Chapters 17 and 19 of AF3e were originally part of early chapters, but I had to split those chapters and put parts of them later because the reader would lack the context to understand the material.

Mind you, this is only what you need to get jails working. Managing jails is the pinnacle of systems administration practice, so I’d certainly recommend you learn about SSH, PAM, and sudo. Really, though, I’d suggest get a job at the gelato shop. You’ll be happier.

“SNMP Mastery” sponsorships now live

My next tech book will be SNMP Mastery. Much like PAM Mastery, I’m writing this book as a public service. SNMP is an uncomfortable fact of life. It’s baroque, obtuse, and misunderstood.

Now that I’ve shipped the Sudo Mastery sponsor gifts, I’m opening print and ebook sponsorships for SNMP Mastery.

The voices in my head tell me that I need to write this with Lovecraftian cosmic horror references. Because SNMP. Who knows if that’ll actually work in the manuscript, however.

Manly McManface: Endgame

I’ve sold 71 copies of Ed Mastery: Manly McManface edition. This means I owe the Grosse Pointe Soroptimists $71. Most of these were print sales, presumably as prank gifts because of the very manly cover.

Rather than track sales of this book forever, I’ve rounded up the amount I donated to $250. I expect this will cover the lifetime sales of this particular edition. Tilted Windmill Press is now a proud sponsor of SIGP’s Stop Traffic 5K Walk/Run on 21 September.

They have room for more sponsors. You should consider sponsoring this fundraiser for a very worthy cause.

If you’re local, you should consider stirring your lazy carcass and joining the walk.

And for posterity, here’s the complete official chronology of this most masculine of books.

I hereby declare this prank complete.

“Sudo Mastery” and the new Tilted Windmill Press clothing line

Sudo Mastery, 2nd edition, is now complete. I’m doing the release slightly different this time, however.

Unsubstantiated pervasive rumors have it that books sell better if they’re available in all formats. The ebook is always faster to arrive than the print, because electrons are instantaneous. I’ve put the ebook on preorder until 3 September, about two weeks from today. This should give the paperback and hardcover time to propagate through all the bookstores. I’m dubious this will have any effect on sales, but you never know.

Also: for years now, people have asked me to put some of the tech book covers on T-shirts. I’ve finally done as requested. I originally wanted to run this directly through tiltedwindmillpress.com, but while the tech would be fun the tax implications would be unfun. So I fell back on Teespring, and set up a store.


There’s shirts for jails, sudo, and a couple other books. Including the book everyone would ask me about, specifically so people don’t ask about it (but it’s extra expensive, because reasons). So: those of you who asked for shirts? Here you go.

“Sudo Mastery, 2nd Edition” open for tech review

I finished the first draft of the new Sudo Mastery last night, and spent today polishing it up for tech review. If you want to do a tech review, this is your chance. Send an email to mwlucas at michael w lucas dotcom, telling me that you want to review and you won’t make the manuscript public.

I need all reviews back by 5 August. This gives me time (if everything goes well) to have the book in print for vBSDCon. Assuming they accept my proposal, that is.

As a side effect of this, I’ll be closing both the print sponsorships and ebook sponsorships in the next 24 hours.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about gelato.

“Sudo Mastery 2nd Edition” cover art reveal

I’m about halfway through the new edition of Sudo Mastery. Assuming nothing terrible happens, should have a complete first draft in four to six weeks. Enough stuff has changed in sudo that I need to carefully double-check every single feature. (I’m also horrified by the painfully obsolete versions of sudo shipped in the latest versions of CentOS and Debian, but people running those operating systems are already accustomed to their creaky obsolescence.)

But the reason for this blog post? I have Eddie Sharam’s glorious cover art. My Patronizers saw it last month, so now the rest of you get a turn.

A Beastie in Need

This is weirdly shaped for a book cover, but there’s reasons.

Ebook purchasers will get the three Beasties and a Tux. (Why the unbalanced ratio? Because of the turtleneck.) Print book purchasers will get another Tux and Minix’s Rocky, on a wraparound cover. Hardcover book purchasers will get all that, plus Puffy on the inside flap. Sadly, Dragonfly doesn’t have a cartoon mascot. They’re not left out, though.

No, you would not be the first person to note that I shouldn’t be allowed to come up with my own cover art. And no, I’m not telling you what medications I’m on-that’s both personal and a trade secret.

This fantastic cover is possible mostly because of my sponsors. You still have a little time to become a print sponsor or ebook sponsor. A very little time, but time.

FreeBSD Mastery: Jails – Bail Bond Denied Edition

I had a brilliant, hideous idea: to produce a charity edition of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails featuring the cover art I would use if I was imprisoned and did not have access to a real cover artist. (Never mind that I wouldn’t be permitted to release books while in jail: we creative sorts scoff at mere legal and cultural details.)

I originally wanted to produce my own take on the book’s cover art. My first attempt failed spectacularly.

I downgraded my expectations and tried again. And again. And again.

I’m pleased to reveal the final cover for FreeBSD Mastery: Jails–Bail Bond Edition!

This cover represents the very pinnacle of my artistic talents, and is the result of literally hours of effort.
But, as this book is available only to the winner of charity fund-raisers, purchase of this tome represents moral supremacy. I recommend flaunting it to your family, coworkers, and all those of lesser character.

Get your copy by winning the BSDCan 2019 charity auction… or any other other auction-type event I deem worthwhile.

As far as my moral fiber goes: I have learned that art is hard, and that artists are not paid enough.

And if I am ever imprisoned, I do hope that you’ll contribute to my bail fund. Otherwise, you’ll get more covers like this one.

Print Sponsor Gifts Mailed for “FreeBSD Mastery: Jails”

I just got back from mailing the sponsor gifts for FreeBSD Mastery: Jails. Every time I ship sponsor gifts, I tell myself that I really need to intern at a shipping company, because there has got to be an easier way to do this.

The pile on the right goes to international sponsors.

This time I attempted to be modern and use the USPS’ web interface to create customs forms, buy postage, and have them pick this mess up at my door. Unfortunately, the feature to let me buy postage for overseas packages was busted today. I could buy postage for their fancy mail service where you use their boxes, for twice as much. I already spend a third of the print sponsor income on fulfilling sponsorships, and I really don’t want to raise the rates for international sponsors. There’s no point in doing the easy half the order the modern way when I have to lug the difficult half to the post office anyway.

I did successfully use the online form to create customs paperwork for each international shipment, though. So that’s something.

I had several ideas for fancy sponsor gifts, but they all turned out to be prohibitively expensive. It is possible to get customized Beastie metal files, suitable for gnawing through cage bars. It’s expensive. Baking them inside little cakes is also possible, but a) makes the shipping fiendishly annoying, and the joke gets moldy quick. No matter how droll delightful such cakes would have been, though, the cake would have been actively toxic and my ethics got in the way.

So I’m afraid this time my sponsors get a mere hardcover copy of the book.

I’m considering this project closed, barring any shipping problems.

And this is where I should probably plug the sponsorships for Sudo Mastery, 2nd Edition. And my new sponsorship announcement mailing list.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to make some serious words on Terrapin Sky Tango…

“FreeBSD Mastery: Jails” Print Sponsor Gifts Threaten to Topple

A groaning UPS driver arrived at my door this morning and dropped off several dozen pounds of paper.

Shipping these is a huge job. I’ll probably pack them up Saturday when I can bribe someone into helping me. (One person wrapping the book, one stuffing the book into the envelope, and one addressing/taping the envelope is more than three times faster than one person shipping alone. I suspect it’s related to the sense of overwhelming despair one feels when facing a giant stack of books that need mailing.) I expect they’ll go into the mail Monday, barring debacle.

Note the absence of art-besmirching text on the cover. The title and author appear on the inside flap. If you want the complete version of the (in my biased opinion) glorious cover art, this is how you get it.

For those watching the business of book sponsorships: I expect I’ll pay about $25 per print sponsor to fulfill these. Lots of the shipping needs to go overseas, and each hardcover costs me almost $15. I still come out nicely ahead, so long as I don’t have to pay too much of a bribe to get the books packed.

Talking Jails at Semibug, 9 April 2019

I’ve written a jails talk to go with the book.

I plan to give this talk three times: a dry run at next week’s Semibug, then in May at Penguicon and BSDCan. The Semibug talk, at 7 PM Tuesday at Altair Engineering, will be the most honest version of the talk. And by honest, I mean it will still include the bad language. I’ll also have the most time to talk afterwards.

With any sort of luck, I’ll have copies of FreeBSD Mastery: Jails at all three events.