Writing the OpenSolaris Bible

2008 was a busy year for me since I spent most of my free time co-authoring a book on OpenSolaris; the OpenSolaris Bible.

Having never written a book before, this was a new experience for me. Nick originally had the idea for writing a book on OpenSolaris and he'd already published Professional C++ with Wiley, so he had an agent and a relationship with a publisher. In December 2007 he contacted me about being a co-author and after thinking it through, I agreed. I had always thought writing a book was something I wanted to do, so I was excited to give this a try. Luckily, Dave agreed to be the third author on the book, so we had our writing team in place. After some early discussions, Wiley decided our material fit best into their "Bible" series, hence the title.

In early January 2008 the three of us worked on the outline and decided which chapters each of us would write. We actually started writing in early February of 2008. Given the publishing schedule we had with Wiley, we had to complete each chapter in about 3 weeks, so there wasn't a lot of time to waste. Also, because this project was not part of our normal work for Sun, we had to ensure that we only worked on the book on our own time, that is evenings and weekends. In the end it turned out that we each wrote exactly a third of the book, based on the page counts. Since the book came out at around 1000 pages, with approximately 950 pages of written material, not counting front matter or the index, we each wrote over 300 pages of content. Over the course of the project we were also fortunate that many of our friends and colleagues who work on OpenSolaris were willing to review our early work and provide much useful feedback.

We finished the first draft at the end of August 2008 and worked on the revisions to each chapter through early December 2008. Of course the OpenSolaris 2008.11 release came out right at the end of our revision process, so we had to scramble to be sure that everything in the book was up-to-date with respect to the new release.

From a personal perspective, this was a particularly difficult year because we also moved to a "new" house in April of 2008. Our new house is actually about 85 years old and hadn't been very well maintained for a while, so it needs some work. The first week we moved in, we had the boiler go out, the sewer back up into the basement, the toilet and the shower wouldn't stop running, the electrical work for our office took longer than expected, our DSL wasn't hooked up right, and about a million other things all seemed to go wrong. Somehow we managed to cope with all of that, keep working for our real jobs, plus I was able to finish my chapters for the book on schedule. I'm pretty sure Sarah wasn't expecting anything like this when I talked to her about working on the book the previous December. Needless to say, we're looking forward to a less hectic 2009.

If you are at all interested in OpenSolaris, then I hope you'll find something in our book that is worthwhile, even if you already know a lot about the OS. The book is targeted primarily at end-users and system administrators. It has a lot of breadth and we tried to include a balanced mix of introductory material as well as advanced techniques. Here's the table of contents so you can get a feel for whats in the book.
I. Introduction to OpenSolaris.
    1. What Is OpenSolaris?
    2. Installing OpenSolaris.
    3. OpenSolaris Crash Course.

II. Using OpenSolaris
    4. The Desktop.
    5. Printers and Peripherals.
    6. Software Management.

III. OpenSolaris File Systems, Networking, and Security.
    7. Disks,  Local File Systems, and the Volume Manager.
    8. ZFS.
    9. Networking.
    10. Network File Systems and Directory Services.
    11. Security.

IV. OpenSolaris Reliability, Availability, and Serviceability.
    12. Fault Management.
    13. Service Management.
    14. Monitoring and Observability.
    15. DTrace.
    16. Clustering for High Availability.

V. OpenSolaris Virtualization.
    17. Virtualization Overview.
    18. Resource Management.
    19. Zones.
    20. xVM Hypervisor.
    21. Logical Domains (LDoms).
    22. VirtualBox.

VI. Developing and Deploying on OpenSolaris.
    23. Deploying a Web Stack on OpenSolaris.
    24. Developing on OpenSolaris. 
If this looks interesting, you can pre-order a copy from Amazon here. It comes out early next month, February 2009, and I'm excited to hear peoples reaction once they've actually had a chance to look it over.

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