Book review Extending and Embedding PHP

in Categories Book Review last updated July 31, 2006

Slashdot has published Book review – Extending and Embedding PHP book.

FTA, “…PHP is a widely-used general-purpose scripting language that is especially suited for Web development. The interpreter that executes programs written in the PHP programming language has been designed from the ground up to be easily embeddable (for instance into the Apache Web Server) and extendable. This extensibility is one of the reasons why PHP became the favourite “glue” of the Web: functionality from existing third-party libraries (database clients or image manipulation toolkits, for instance) can be made available through PHP with the ease of use you expect from a scripting language…”

Read the rest of Sebastian’s review at Slashdot.

Book review: DNS in Action – A Detailed And Practical Guide to Dns Implementation, Configuration, And Administration

in Categories Book Review last updated July 9, 2006

Update (Mar-15-2007, 3:01 PM, IST): The book content has not been updated and it is outdated now. I recommend following books if you want to get latest and updated version:

=> DNS and BIND – The fifth edition covers BIND 9.3.2, the most recent release of the BIND 9 series, as well as BIND 8.4.7. BIND 9.3.2 contains further improvements in security and IPv6 support, and important new features such as internationalized domain names, ENUM (electronic numbering), and SPF (the Sender Policy Framework). Whether you’re an administrator involved with DNS on a daily basis or a user who wants to be more informed about the Internet and how it works, you’ll find that this book is essential reading.

*** Outdated book : This post is archived ***
DNS (domain name system/server) is lifeline for internet and internet based applications. IP addresses are difficult to remember, so we use DNS to translate the domain name (such as to IP address (such as or vise-versa.

The book DNS in Action is a guide to DNS implementation, os specific configuration, and administration. This is a practical book for new sys admin and network architects about how to run and configure DNS. Libor Dostalek and Alana Kabelova has done a good work to put together complicated topic such as DNS and its implementation. The entire book is divided into ten chapters.

Chapter 1: Domain Name System
We humans take advantage of DNS whenever possible by using terms URLs and e-mail addresses. The first chapter explains the basis of DNS and its principles. This chapter talks about domain name, zones, reverse domains & IPS etc. It also covers how DNS server and queries works (resolver). The end of chapter explains the name server and describes name server types. Every major concept is also illustrated using a diagram which makes your concept clear.

Chapter 2: DNS Protocol
DNS server stores information (such as IP and domain names) as Resource Records (PR). This chapter explains the PR records and DNS protocol in details such as:
=> DNS query packer format and headers (good for troubleshooting)
=> Question section
=> Authoritative servers etc
At the end of this chapter you will find lots of practical examples of DNS queries such as PR queries, communication with a root server etc using standard UNIX and Windows utilities.

Chapter 3: DNS Extension
First two chapters talk about the basis of DNS that every DNS implementation should support. This chapter talks about DNS extensions such as IPv6 support, security (IPsec and TSIG), DNS update, negative caching, DNS notify etc. These extensions make your life more secure with DNS servers.

Chapter 4: Name server implementation
The actual implementation (configuration) for UNIX and Windows server environment is covered in this chapter. The basic configuration is covered for BIND v4.0. Later on it also covers latest BIND version 8/9. It also covers Microsoft’s native implementation of DNS in Windows 2000/2003.

Chapter 5: Tools for DNS debugging and Administration
Now you know the DNS principals and you have implemented DNS. Neutrally next logical step is to learn DNS debugging and administration (aka troubleshooting). Chapter 5 discusses the tools such as nslookup, dig, dnswalk & others, and talks about how to handle common configuration issues. It also covers how to use rndc to control remote DNS server.

Chapter 6: Domain Delegation and Registration
Domain delegation allows to setup primary and secondary name servers. You will learn how to register TLDs and CTLDs and setup your own name servers to handle these domains. This chapter is useful for people working in an ISP or web hosting environments.

Chapter 7: Reverse Domain Delegation
A reverse transliation is the mapping of an IP address to a domain name. Without reverse domain delegation many internet service will not work properly. For example your email may be considered as a spam if a domain does not have a reverse IP address. This chapter talks about configuration issues related to reverse domain delegation.

Chapter 8: Internet Registry
If you would like to learn more about Internet Registry which is responsible for assigning IP address and domain registration, then this the perfect chapter for you. If you are going to setup your own ISP or web hosting company this chapter will help you out.

Chapter 9: DNS in Closed Intranets
This one talks about DNS in closed large scale Intranets. It covers how to handle common configuration and error issues.

Chapter 10: DNS and Firewall
Last chapter covers DNS server from firewall point of view. Problems can arise with the firewall and you will learn how to solve common problem. It does not covers actual iptables or ACL rules but it gives you lots hints to avoid problems.

Final note

A perfect book for all DNS sys admin / network architects out there. I highly recommended this book for three simple reasons:

  • Covers wild verity of topics – The DNS protocol and implementation, DNS troubleshooting and advanced topics such as Domain delegation, firewall etc.
  • Authors experience – While reading this book I noticed the experience of authors who wrote this book. They have successfully explained complicated topic and concepts in simple language.
  • Examples – Working examples and illustrations makes your idea clear.


  • Book title: Dns in Action: A Detailed And Practical Guide to Dns Implementation, Configuration, And Administration
  • Author: L. Dostalek and A. Kabelova
  • Publisher: Packt Publishing
  • Pub Date: February 2006
  • ISBN: 1904811787
  • Pages: 196
  • Level of experience needed: Beginners/Intermediate sys admin/network architects
  • Who will find useful: ISP/WSP staff, sys admin, network architects (a working knowledge of TCP/IP protocols is presumed)
  • Additional goodies included (such as CDROM) : No
  • Sample chapter(s): Domain Name System
  • Our rating: ****+ (4/5)

[* Poor | ** Average | *** Fine | **** Must have ]

O'Reilly announces 30% off a single book or 35% off two or more books

in Categories Book Review, News last updated May 8, 2006

I just received an email from O’Reilly, which read as follows:

Get 30% off a single book or 35% off two or more books from O’Reilly, No Starch, Paraglyph, PC Publishing, Pragmatic Bookshelf, SitePoint, or Syngress books you purchase directly from O’Reilly. Other benefits you receive when you buy directly from O’Reilly include:

100% Satisfaction Guarantee
If, for any reason, you’re not completely satisfied with your purchase, return it to us and get your money back. A return shipping label is included with every direct purchase, and directions are posted online in case you’ve misplaced it.

Safari Enabled
Whenever possible, our books are “Safari Enabled.” This means you can access your book for free online for 45 days through the O’Reilly Safari Bookshelf. How do you know if your book is Safari Enabled? Turn your book over and look for the “Safari Enabled” logo on the bottom right of the page. If it’s there, flip through the last couple pages of your book until you find directions for accessing your book online.

Have a question about your book? O’Reilly is the only publisher that offers tech support for books. Send an email to and we’ll help you out. Be specific:

  1. Include the book title and page number.
  2. It’s also a good idea to include the ISBN so we know what edition you have.

Just use code DSUG when ordering online or by phone 800-998-9938. Free ground shipping on orders $29.95 or more in the US.

Book review: PHP Hacks Tips & Tools for Creating Dynamic Websites

in Categories Book Review last updated January 24, 2006
PHP hack books

PHP is an acronym for PHP Hypertext Preprocessor. It is an open-source programming language used mainly for developing server-side applications and dynamic web content (See netcraft PHP usage page). If you visit documentation page, you will get A-Z PHP programming and API references along with sample code. However, it lacks the PHP programming techniques to develop robust PHP applications. This book is an excellent practical reference for learning and creating world-class PHP applications. It explains everything systematically from HTML and Ajax to code generation.
Continue reading “Book review: PHP Hacks Tips & Tools for Creating Dynamic Websites”

Book review: Linux Server Hacks, Volume Two

in Categories Book Review last updated January 21, 2006

If you are looking for cool useful Linux tips and tricks collection then this book is necessary read for you. It covers everything from authentication to recovering data from Linux servers. Both William von Hagen and Brian Jones (and contributors) have done a remarkable work to put together Linux Tips & Tools for Connecting, Monitoring, and Troubleshooting system. I am dam sure most new Linux (and experienced) sys admin find the stuff to improve your skills that result into a better productivity at the end of day.
The best thing about this book is you do not have to be a Linux guru. Any one with basic knowledge of Linux can go ahead with this book’s step-by-step instruction to accomplish task. The book is divided into ten easy-to-understand chapters:

Linux Authentication
This chapter is all about authentication issues. It includes centralize logins with LDAP and other security tips related authentication mechanism.

Remote GUI Connectivity
If you ever need graphical remote desktop from any OS to any OS then this chapter is for you. It covers the way your windows XP desktop can be access from Linux desktop or vice versa. It also paid attention to security related issues while you access systems remotely.

System Services
This chapter starts with the importance of centralized servers to satisfy the requirements of many client computers. It provides systematic hacks to setup DHCP, DNS, NTP etc. It also covers setup of Common Unix Printing System (CUPS) to handle and manage print jobs from modern operating systems such as Linux, Microsoft Windows, and Mac OS X, and Linux/UNIX.

Cool Sysadmin Tools and Tips
If you are looking to impress your friend(s) with nifty commands then this perfect topic for you. It covers tools and techniques that are new to most readers, and which result into enhance your productivity. The best thing is coverage of soft skills for sys admin such as time management to talking to management!

Storage Management and Backups
Disk storage and backup are the most important topic for any sys admin. Indeed, it is a responsibility of any computer system is to provide enough storage space to enable users to get their work done. It covers LVM, RAID and other handy backup techniques. However, I strongly feel more coverage needed for backup topics.

Standardizing, Sharing, and Synchronizing Resources
Well if you have centralized resources then this topic will help you to know how to maintain centralized resources. With this chapter, you can setup quick and dirty NAS then setup a web farms or an NFS server or simply use samba for cross platform file sharing.

Protect your network/server from crackers. You can detect known types of Trojan horses, setup fileystem integrity, setup IDS (intrusion detection system) for monitoring all incoming network requests to your system.

Troubleshooting and Performance
If you or someone else misconfigured your system, it will result into poor performance of server. In this chapter, you will find the tools and techniques to troubleshoot system. At then end, you should have a better performance and server. It will explain how to troubleshoot resource hogs on your systems and networks.

Logfiles and Monitoring
This chapter covers the monitoring of server and network. It explains how to setup centralized log server so that logs will be available all the times to you. The goal of this chapter is to show you how to get data you don’t currently have, and how to use data you do have in more useful ways.

System Rescue, Recovery, and Repair
Data recovery is one the most important activity. It covers recovering of deleted files, partitions from crashed system. This chapter also covers how to permanently delete files and wipe hard disks permanently.

This book will act as an excellent recourse on what to tweak where, why to tweak it, and how to do so. This book provides hacks that give you all that information to enhance system performance especially if you are a new to Linux.


[ * Poor | ** Average | *** Fine | **** Must have ]

Book review: Linux Server Security, 2nd Edition

in Categories Book Review last updated January 12, 2006
Securing Linux server from intruders is a big challenge especially if you are new to world of Linux (read as new Linux sys admin). Linux is rapidly gaining popularity in an enterprise-computing environment. Its market share of is rapidly growing. The need for security is very high in fast moving IT world. The book Linux Server Security, 2nd Edition by Michael D. Bauer covers general security philosophy, issues faced by the administrator of Linux system, and practical systematic instructions for protecting a server that runs industry strength Linux.

The book is clearly aimed at all new Linux server administrators with little experience or expertise in Linux environment.


Threat Modeling and Risk Management
This chapter explains threat to an enterprise Linux server. It explains risk management cost wise, time wise etc. In short it explains why security needed and how far (read as how much you want to spend on security issues) you need to go is up to you.

Designing Perimeter Networks
Author covers network topologies that isolate your publicly accessible servers from your private systems while still providing those public systems some level of protection. It includes coverage on DMZ & firewall, and related security consideration. However, I think more coverage is needed on firewall and policy issues.

Hardening Linux and Using iptables
It covers system-hardening principles and specific techniques for hardening the Linux. It explains what should be installed, what services need to run, disable services & unnecessary user accounts etc. It has very nice coverage of Bastille hardening system software.

Secure Remote Administration
The real action began from this chapter. It includes coverage of ssh with intermediate & advanced SSH usage.

OpenSSL and Stunnel
This chapter explains basic stuff in OpenSSL, which provides encryption and authentication mechanisms for Apache and many other applications. It covers creating of SSL certification and use of stunnel to protect services.

Securing Domain Name Services (DNS)
DNS is a life line of Internet. All major services such as Apache, Email etc depend upon proper working of DNS server. It covers BIND and djbdns installation and security.

Using LDAP for Authentication
This chapter covers an introduction to LDAP service, setting up the OpenLDAP server for centralized Authentication.

Database Security
This chapter covers MySQL database server configuration and security issues related to MySQL server. However, security coverage is not enough. If database is your business, you had better opt for separate book on MySQL.

Securing Internet Email
Like DNS email is very important service. This chapter covers Sendmail & Postfix MTA and issues related to email security. It also covers Sendmail that support SMTP AUTH and STARTTLS. However, STARTTLS and SMTP AUTH in Postfix are not covered.

Securing Web Servers
This chapter is all about web servers, security related to it and nice coverage of apache security. It also covers security of web application written in Perl and PHP.

Securing File Services

File sharing is one the most important feature of network. This chapter covers FTP security and securing the ProFTPD FTP server. It also cover scp, sftp and rsync for sharing files over secure ssh session.

System Log Management and Monitoring
This chapter is all about securing system logs. It also covers syslog-ng, which is more powerful than the old syslog software. It also discuses the techniques related to log monitoring including swatch and offline log-reporting tools.

Simple Intrusion Detection Techniques
It explains principles of intrusion detection systems and related concepts. It covers tripwire and snort IDS.

The book is Suse/Red Hat specific. The book will serve as an essential guide for all new Linux server administrators (experienced system administrator will not find much stuff here). I recommend this book because of its simplicity and clear cut step by step instructions.


  • Book title: Linux Server Security, 2nd Edition
  • Author: Michael D. Bauer
  • Publisher: O’Reilly
  • Pub Date: January 2005
  • ISBN: 0-596-00670-5
  • Pages: 542
  • Level of experience needed: Linux Beginners (noobs)
  • Who will find useful: Linux sys admins
  • Additional goodies included (such as CDROM) : No
  • Sample chapters: Chapter 12: System Log Management and Monitoring (PDF)
  • Our rating: ****+ (4/5)
  • Purchase online at Amazon

[ * Poor | ** Average | *** Fine | **** Must have ]

GTK+ fundamentals, Part 1: Why use GTK+?

in Categories Book Review, News last updated December 27, 2005

IBM developerworks has publslihed an article on GTK+ fundamentals. It is very nice easy to understand tutorial on GTK+. This article, the first in a three-part series, introduces you to the world of GTK+. It explains what GTK+ is why you should consider using it, and the benefits it provides. Together with the rest of the series, this installment provides enough introductory information that, if you decide to use GTK+ in your own projects, you’ll know where to look for further materials. GTK+ is a graphical user interface (GUI) tool kit. That is, it’s a library (or, in fact, a collection of several closely related libraries) that allow you to create GUI-based applications. Think of GTK+ as a toolbox in which you can find many ready building blocks for creating GUIs. Read full article here

Book review: Linux Troubleshooting (PDF version)

in Categories Book Review last updated December 27, 2005

Slashdot has published book review of Linux Troubleshooting book by Bruce Perens. This book is reviewed by Mary Norbury-Glaser. The Bruce Perens Open Source Series of books published by Prentice Hall PTR is a strong collection of nearly 20 volumes focusing on Linux and open source technology. Edited by Linux guru and former Debian GNU/Linux Project Leader, Bruce Perens, the books are aimed toward developers, sysadmins and power users. Several months following the release of a new print volume, a free electronic version is made available on Prentice Hall PTR’s web site. The series includes some excellent editions including Official Samba-3 HOWTO and Reference Guide (2nd ed.), Linux Quick Fix Notebook and PHP 5 Power Programming. The newest book by Mark Wilding and Dan Behman, Self-Service Linux: Determining Problems and Finding Solutions, is another well-written and worthy companion to this series. Read entire review online.


  • Book title: Linux Troubleshooting
  • Author: Mark Wilding and Dan Behman
  • Author web/blog: —
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall, PTR
  • Pub Date: November 2005
  • ISBN: 013147751X
  • Pages: 456
  • Level of experience needed: Linux newbie (noobs)
  • Who will find useful: Linux System administrators
  • Additional goodies included (such as CDROM) : —
  • Sample chapters: — (entire book will be available in ebook (pdf ) format)
  • Our rating: none (Slashdot rating 8)

Book review: Time Management for System Administrators

in Categories Book Review last updated December 26, 2005

Time is a critical factor in an enterprise computing. As a UNIX system administrator, I know the importance of time. Users are the system administrator’s asset (hey w/o them I will be out of job). Understanding users on the system, and knowing how to mange, control, and communicate them in timely mannered is important skill for system administrator. Matter gets worst when you work on a mix of projects and interruptions goes further.

If you want to know how to mange customers (read as keep users happy & productive) in time, then Time Management for System Administrators book by Thomas A. Limoncelli is for you.

The book starts with Time Management Principles. It explains what’s so difficult about time management and the principles of time management for sys admins. Next, it defines the various factors related to sys admins life, routine and most important explains how-to to put things in order of importance. You will gain following skills after reading this book:

  • Stress Management
  • Email management
  • Documentation
  • Automation
  • Manage interruptions
  • Eliminate timewasters
  • Keep an effective calendar
  • Develop routines for things that occur regularly
  • Use your brain only for what you are currently working on
  • Prioritize based on customer expectations
  • Document and automate processes for faster execution

Two simple reasons to read this book:

  1. It provides simple and easy to follow ways (read as tips) to manage time
  2. It comes with 45 days O’Reilly Books-Online key. Therefore, you can read it online without taking any breaks 😉


  • Book title: Time Management for System Administrators
  • Author: Thomas A. Limoncelli
  • Author web/blog:
  • Publisher: O’Reilly
  • Pub Date: November 2005
  • ISBN: 0-596-00783-3
  • Pages: 226
  • Level of experience needed: None (more useful to system administrators)
  • Who will find useful: System administrators and IT managers
  • Additional goodies included (such as CDROM) : 45 days O’Reilly Books-Online key
  • Sample chapters:
  • Our rating: **** (4/5)

[ * Poor | ** Average | *** Fine | **** Must have ]

Book review: Linux Multimedia Hacks

in Categories Book Review last updated December 26, 2005

Linux is rapidly gaining popularity as a desktop operating system. Its market share of desktops is rapidly growing. Whenever you think about Linux as a Desktop operating system, your first consideration should be Linux multimedia application. Linux has tons of multimedia application but selecting and finding all application is a big challenge. If you use Linux as a desktop everyday then this book is for you. It will answer essential question such as how to take screen shot or covert image format from command line and much more.

In nutshell, this book is all about Linux Multimedia hacks, author Kyle Rankin have done a superb job of illustrating the best available multimedia tools/apps so you can maximize the entertainment capabilities under Linux. It include killer tips and tricks for connecting to iPods, creating MP3s, watching and making DVDs, turning your Linux box into a MythTV (Tivo) and much more.

The best thing about this book is you do not have to be a Linux guru. Any one with basic knowledge of Linux can go ahead with this book’s step-by-step instruction to accomplish task. The book is divided into five easy-to-understand chapters:

  1. Images: Tips range from basic image edits (like removing red eye) to automated image manipulation. It also includes very nice coverage of digital camera especially the Pulling Images from a Digital Camera and managing them with f-spot application.
  2. Audio: It include audio format conversion, tweaking metadata within audio files, burning cds, using an iPOD with linux and coverage of other portable audio players.
  3. Video: Creating your own VCD or DVDs is a real fun. It includes rip & encoding of DVD and VCD, coverage of multimedia players and much more.
  4. Broadcast Media: I think this is the best chapter of this book. It includes how to access and create you own web broadcasts as well as watch and record TV. Amazing information tips for cutting commercials from TV and broadcasting or podcastsing from command line.
  5. Web: Learn how to make your multimedia creations available to the world. Perhaps this chapter every new Linux desktop user should read first. It includes very good information such as installing flash players, real players, watching video within FireFox, making an internet phone calls or even using Linux as a PBX.

However, please note that most examples written for RPM based distribution such as Red Hat Linux or Fedora Linux or Suse Linux. Nevertheless, you can easily replace all rpm command with apt-get Laughing
The best part is you can select the topic of your interest. After reading this book, you will not just agree that Linux is most powerful multimedia platforms around, but has far more capabilities and features than you ever imagined. You will enjoy it everyday. This is one of the best resources of information related to multimedia applications.


[ * Poor | ** Average | *** Fine | **** Must have ]