Contributed by sean on from the dept.
Starting from the original FAQ and working towards a print version, Jeremy has packaged up a rather complete tome on our friendly packet filter. I've read the book in it's entirety and for comparison's sake the original FAQ. Just flipping through the book, it is obvious that Jeremy took the time to paginate and format the entire text into something easily readable on the bus (my venue for this book) or pretty much anywhere, as the form factor is quite comfortable (a bit larger than a pulp novel). On the form itself, the index while being complete and helpful has a bold face which I find a bit distracting and renders the text larger than the normal face in the rest of the book. One of the nice changes Jeremy made was replacing the brain teasing ASCII art diagrams (much easier to handle with a mono space font) to graphically rendered versions which makes things clearer at a glance.
The audience for this book is any user already familiar with the various BSD incarnations but is intrigued by the idea of using PF in their environment (instead of converting to OpenBSD 'whole-hog'). If you are looking for a book which goes into more detail about setting up OpenBSD and using PF then I would suggest Jacek's approach to the topic but if all you care about is PF then you found the right one. The PF-Book is also well suited as a nice encyclopedic reference of the various uses and features PF has and the through index at the back makes it suited for this function.
This book took me a long time to read as there have been a number of large projects at work and 'at home' so the book was read chapter by chapter either on the commute to the office or while forcing a break during the day. This is usually a bad thing for technical books but in this case each of the chapters was self contained and the examples didn't distract from the bulk of the material.
Since I'm more comfortable with the 'dead-tree' format I learned all kinds of things that I didn't get from reading the online version (but were still there). Specifically a few examples are the explanation of the state manipulation (ie. modulate, synproxy) and tcp flag use in pass rules.
One thing I felt lacking was in examples portion as the examples given dealt with very simple uses of PF in basic environments I would have definitely appreciated a few more complicated examples which show off the power of PF in not so trivial network layouts (such as bridges and IPsec tunnelling).
Another welcome addition was the appending summarizing 'Other Tools' which lists and gives a brief synopsis of the various add-ons and extension packages available for PF. I didn't know so many existed! The list is in alphabetical order so you will have to read through them all if you are looking for any particular one. I would have preferred a sectioned list instead.
As for the donations questions raised when the book was first announced/published, I've confirmed that funds have made their way to the project though it seems as though the distributor has been giving Jeremy a hard time redeeming on sales.
If I was to force myself into an Amazon rating I would give 'The OpenBSD Packet Filter Book' 3.5 out of 5 puffies.
Note: a complementary copy of the above book was sent to me for review on this site.
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