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Date:      Thu, 20 Mar 2008 03:15:35 -0600
From:      Chad Perrin <>
Subject:   Re: my brother is making me learn FreeBSD...
Message-ID:  <20080320091535.GA27324@demeter.hydra>
In-Reply-To: <000001c88a5c$82d01b40$887051c0$@com>
References:  <000001c88a5c$82d01b40$887051c0$@com>

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On Wed, Mar 19, 2008 at 11:32:08PM -0800, Donald Laniohan wrote:
> My task is to build a BSD server and do something with it. That is all the
> information he gave me, that, and any questions I have to make Google my
> best friend, which I have. i remember building my first whitebox, it was a
> 386 with windows 3.1. I remember when I built my 486 and stole a copy of
> windows 95. I thought I was a savage. BSD, however, has showed me how
> juvenile I have been. If I do not master BSD my brother is going to keep me
> as a desktop support for his windows clients and I want to progress past
> this. So he's giving me a 1u, and said to put BSD on it and make it do
> something, im just so stuck in my windows comfort zone I can't think of what
> I would need a unix server to that I couldn't make windows do for me. I know
> this is trivial but if somebody could offer any suggestion or resource I,
> and my career, would greatly appreciate it

Reasonably easy stuff that'd teach you something useful and *be*
immediately useful, all at the same time, would be:

  1. Set up a document management server using Subversion.  The idea is
  that you commit a directory you use for your personal documents to a
  version control system so that whenever you update the documents, you
  can have both the current and all previous versions recoverable from
  the server in case of disaster or a desire to "roll back" some changes
  you've made.  A Google search string that should help for getting it
  set up is:

      subversion "document management"

  Since it's probably not "cheating" to have someone point you directly
  at a link for something on MS Windows, I'll just give you a direct link
  to an article I wrote a while back about setting up TortoiseSVN on MS
  Windows.  TortoiseSVN is a client for Subversion, and can be used to
  make use of your personal document management server from a Microsoft
  Windows client, if you don't have a FreeBSD desktop or laptop system
  available.  The URL is:
  2. Set up a backup server.  There are several excellent tools for this
  that automate most of the process.  Popular choices include Backula,
  rsync, and dump.  With some tools, you may want to schedule their
  operation by use of cron -- which means you'll probably be learning at
  least two separate tools.  Since there are so many different means of
  setting up a backup server, I'll leave it to you to figure out what
  search strings to use.

  3. Set up a remote filesystem integrity auditing server.  Tools such as
  mtree, Tripwire, and rsync can all be used for this purpose.  I've even
  written articles about the use of these tools for these purposes.  You
  should be able to find them with Google search strings like the

      mtree "integrity auditing"
      rsync "integrity auditing"
      tripwire "integrity auditing"

I chose these three server types in particular because:

  1. They're things you can't do very effectively on MS Windows without
  tracking down third party software to buy, copy, or download via your
  browser to install on the system with great annoyance and difficulty.

  2. They're relatively easy (with the possible exception of using
  tripwire or getting really fancy with the configuration of some of
  these), unlike other things MS Windows doesn't do so well (like setting
  up a stateful router/firewall, which can easily get fairly complex).

  3. I've done them all, and they're all only a very brief shell command
  away from installing on the system (assuming you have the full CD set
  or a broadband Internet connection).

  4. None of them require use of the X Window System, so you can set them
  all up and manage them using nothing more than a command shell via SSH.

  5. They can all be immediately useful for you, whereas something like a
  firewall you're setting up without a specific need for a firewall
  system probably cannot.


  1. I haven't mentioned the single most useful bit of help you can get
  for finding out how to get things running in FreeBSD.  I'll give you a
  hint, though; FreeBSD is the OS whose user documentation is the
  absolute best, in my experience.  I haven't used all available OSes, of
  course, but I've used quite a few.

  2. I can't swear that the results you get from the above recommended
  Google search strings will give you the information you need.  They're
  just ideas off the top of my head for how to get started on searching.
  I have not tested those search strings for these purposes.

  3. Anything I intentionally leave out of this email that might be
  helpful (such as URLs that lead directly to various resources that give
  step-by-step instructions on achieving certain ends with FreeBSD), I
  left out because I wouldn't want to be accused of "cheating" by simply
  handing over the answers when you have obviously been given a challenge
  by your brother.  The content of this email is meant to offer ideas for
  what goals to choose, give hints on how it can be done by someone brand
  spanking new to FreeBSD without giving answers, and explain my choices.

  4. I have to stop typing at some point, so you only get the three
  suggestions for server types above.

CCD CopyWrite Chad Perrin [ ]
Paul Graham: "Real ugliness is not harsh-looking syntax, but having to
build programs out of the wrong concepts."

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