The FreeBSD Corporate Networker's Guide

The FreeBSD Corporate Networker's Guide

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by Ted Mittelstaedt, Edward Mittelstaedt

"FreeBSD has been the secret weapon of serious network administrators for many years now and this book should provide a welcome introduction to those who have yet to discover it for themselves."
--Jordan Hubbard, Co-founder, The FreeBSD Project

FreeBSD is the engine that runs on some of today's largest Internet servers,

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"FreeBSD has been the secret weapon of serious network administrators for many years now and this book should provide a welcome introduction to those who have yet to discover it for themselves."
--Jordan Hubbard, Co-founder, The FreeBSD Project

FreeBSD is the engine that runs on some of today's largest Internet servers, such as Yahoo!, Microsoft's Hotmail, and Walnut Creek. The power, flexibility, and cost effectiveness of FreeBSD make it the preferred server platform of many corporate networks, including networks in which the Windows OS predominates.

The FreeBSD Corporate Networker's Guide provides practical instructions for using FreeBSD to serve a largely Windows corporate network. Written for network managers and administrators, this book shows how FreeBSD and Windows can coexist and interoperate on the same network with few problems, and it reveals how to maximize FreeBSD's many advantages for optimal network performance.

The book contains an overview of FreeBSD serving a Windows network and a step-by-step FreeBSD installation guide. Key network server topics--system administration, Internet connectivity, Web servers, fileserving, printserving, and e-mail--are addressed in depth. You will read about specific topics, such as:

  • The FreeBSD user interface versus the Windows user interface
  • Dual booting of Windows NT and FreeBSD
  • DNS, DHCP, and TCP/IP on the corporate LAN
  • FreeBSD installation phases, X installation, PPP installation, and disk configuration
  • FreeBSD environment setup, backups, logs, and other system administrative tasks
  • Migratingpassword files, UNIX equivalents of DOS commands, and some Windows-to-UNIX issues
  • Internet security, proxy serving, and FreeBSD routers
  • The Apache Web server, Windows Web publishing tools, and the vi HTML tool
  • Fileserving with Samba-SMB and NetBIOS protocols, browsing, and passwords
  • Setting up LPR on Windows clients and FreeBSD
  • Managing the UNIX printserver queue
  • Installing Sendmail on FreeBSD
  • Connecting a mailserver to the Internet

In addition, The FreeBSD Corporate Networker's Guide highlights FreeBSD's many technical advantages, the history and rationale behind its development, and its relationship to Linux. The author's Web site for this book, which includes sample code, working examples, and a Q&A forum, is located at The CD that comes with this book contains the base FreeBSD 4.2 operating system for the Intel i386 platform, including installer and bootable CD-ROM support. The disk also contains XFree86 3.3.6 for FreeBSD, and several hundred of the most popular third-party packages for FreeBSD.


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Editorial Reviews

A book/CD-ROM package providing instructions for using FreeBSD to serve a largely Windows corporate network. Shows how FreeBSD and Windows can coexist and operate on the same network with few problems, and reveals how to maximize FreeBSD's advantages for optimal network performance. Offers an installation guide, and discussion of network server topics such as Internet connectivity, Web servers, fileserving, and e-mail. The CD-ROM contains the base FreeBSD 4.2 operating system for the Intel i386 platform. The author works in the private sector. For network managers and administrators. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

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Pearson Education
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7.33(w) x 9.17(h) x 0.83(d)

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The FreeBSD Corporate Networker's Guide is written for beginning FreeBSD administrators who want to take advantage of the power and cost savings afforded by use of this operating system on their organizations' production network. FreeBSD takes its name from the Berkeley Software Distribution group, where the software originated. As with all network operating systems (NOSs), there is a "learning hump" that the administrator just beginning to work with the NOS must climb.

In keeping with the spirit of freely available Open Source software, this book has operating with the Microsoft (MS) operating system and networking as a primary goal. FreeBSD and Windows can peaceably coexist on the same network without problems. As an administrator you can mix and match FreeBSD and Windows servers and clients as you see fit, as long as you follow good networking practices of using standards-based methods and protocols. It is important that a production network be based on standards as much as possible. Mixing FreeBSD and Windows on the same network is an excellent way to do this.

Newcomers to the UNIX computing paradigm will find it somewhat different than the Windows paradigm. Sometimes it is even more difficult for the administrator experienced in other operating systems (OSs) to pick up UNIX than it is for the raw newcomer. Preconceptions of how an OS works and how best to do things need to be shed. This mind expanding is a very good thing for the information system (IS) professional, even if he or she has no intention of using the material professionally. Some people are so bigoted that they carry on a crusade against theMacintosh and/or OS/2. This trap, more than anything else, blocks progress in the quickly shifting computer industry. Even Microsoft, once the standards' bearer of proprietary computing, has come to realize this. The Web front-end of MS's Hotmail service, for example, runs entirely on FreeBSD (look at the MS Help Wanted postings that require FreeBSD experience for Hotmail administrators).

Organization of This Book

The first section of this book, Chapters 1 through 3, covers preinstallation and installation of FreeBSD. As with any other NOS, several questions must be answered before the installation CD even boots up in the server hardware. (This is one reason the DNS chapter is before the installation chapter.) I strongly recommend installing a FreeBSD system before tackling the rest of the book, even if all you do is install according to the directions without understanding them. In some ways, learning about FreeBSD is a catch-22 proposition. You need to know how FreeBSD works before you can install it properly, but you need an installed FreeBSD system before you can learn how it works! To solve this problem, just go ahead and install a system, even if it's the ugliest and worst option selection possible. All you need is something running on something, which will help you understand the rest of this book. You will want to go back later and reinstall FreeBSD anyway.

Chapters 4 through 9 are intended to be taken piecemeal. Do you need a FreeBSD router to connect to the Internet? If so, skip to Chapter 5. Do you need a FreeBSD mailserver? If so, skip to Chapter 9. Although there is some order, in that later topics do build on some material introduced in earlier chapters, the main idea is to concentrate first on the sections for which you have an immediate need.

In addition, the information in the chapters is not intended to be swallowed in one gulp but to be used more as a reference. Ignore the bits that are completely inapplicable to your situation. For example, most people will never need to connect a DOS-bootable disk to a FreeBSD network, but the information is there for the few who do need it.

Chapter 10, Advocacy, contains material that polarized the reviewers. Some loved it, some hated it; nobody lacked an opinion about it. This chapter presents all the reasons to use FreeBSD instead of Windows, and it includes some background information about FreeBSD. If you are an administrator who thinks that both Windows and FreeBSD have their strong points and you want to "marry" the two, you won't find agreement here. My goal is to see FreeBSD replace Windows, not to coexist with it forever. Although advocacy may seem out of place in a technically oriented publication, the truth is that this chapter is the real key to the essence of FreeBSD.

FreeBSD, and other Open Source software products, were not written by people who wanted to make a lot of money, or even any money at all. They are not in any way commercial products, yet they are being used as pillars for commercial enterprises! Without understanding Open Source software, why FreeBSD exists, or what drives it, any good administrator would be concerned about its longevity in the market; no administrator could persuade management to try FreeBSD or have any confidence in it. Thus, an understanding of advocacy is essential to the FreeBSD administrator.

Open Source Software

Open Source software, like FreeBSD, generally follows this definition.

  • The software is free when obtained electronically and has only a nominal cost if supplied on media (usually less than $30).
  • No support, warranty, or suitability of fitness for use is implied. There is no guarantee that it will function at all.
  • The entire source code needed to compile the software is freely available. In some cases binary versions of the software may not be available; the end user must compile it.
  • There are no restrictions on the end user's personal use of the software. In a corporate or governmental organization, personal use is defined as entirely within that organization and benefiting members of that organization.
  • The software is not intended to be available only for a limited time, at the end of which it converts to a commercial model (e.g., beta code, eval code).
  • In general, no commercial support is available, other than targeted consulting. This is changing with the largest packages--FreeBSD, Linux, and Sendmail--which do have commercial support available.

Open Source software generally comes with a license applied by its copyright holder. The most important purpose of this license is to establish that the software is indeed Open Source and is not commercial, or pirated. Beyond this, Open Source licenses fall into one of two general categories.

1. Limited or restricted license. A good example is the GNU software license used on the GNU C Complier (GCC) in the FreeBSD operating system. This license permits GNU code to be included in commercial software, but any modifications to the GNU software must be placed under GNU also. Another example is the license used on the Sendmail version 8.9.X software package, which requires anyone using Sendmail in a commercial software project, such as a UNIX operating system, to obtain permission from Sendmail, with an exception for Open Source projects. These licenses also have language specifying source availability. There is no single standard for a limited or restricted Open Source license, despite what you may read about the GNU software license. Anybody can (and often does) sit down and write up a license document and apply it to his or her software; the existence of GNU does not prevent this.
2. Unlimited or unrestricted license. The classic example of this type of license is the Berkeley BSD license used on most of FreeBSD itself. It allows use of the source in other commercial projects without obtaining permission or opening the source of the commercial project. Another example of this kind of license is that of the Livingston Radius code; that license file can be found at Although the difference between limited or restricted and unlimited or unrestricted may seem trivial, in reality it is not. Unlimited licenses, such as that of BSD, exist because the developers want the code to be used commercially, even if the developer never sees a dime from revenue generated by sale of the software. The principal reason for this is the age-old human instinct for leaving a mark. If your goal is to write a piece of software that will become a standard for everyone, BSD is the best and quickest way to do it. In contrast, GNU and GNU public license (GPL) and those limited licenses force the software to stay alive and be improved or prevent people from profiting by reselling software under the limited license.

Software that is shipped with the source code and contains a software license that disallows mere use of the software in a commercial environment is not Open Source software. The FreeBSD Project does not use such software in FreeBSD because this practice would place most FreeBSD end users in legal trouble.

PC Server and PC Local Area Network

In the old days of IBM XT-compatibles, building a fileserver on a PC was impractical as well as unbelievable. The 8088 hardware simply was not powerful enough, and the XT was extremely restricted in internal bandwidth and other resources. Back then, servers were big, powerful computers that sat in a glass house, if the organization had them at all.

As PCs became more powerful and Ethernet networks extended to all desktops, the Intel 80286 chip began to be used in the AT computer. Because these PCs were constructed with 8MB and 16MB of RAM and 300MB ESDI disks, their use as network servers became possible. These early machines were still very weak compared to a real UNIX server of the time, but because they were much cheaper, network operating systems began appearing--for example, NetWare and LanManager based on OS/2. Companies built large networks based entirely around these NOSs; these networks came to be known as PC-LANs since clients and servers were both PC-compatible computers. The primary difference between a PC used as a server and a PC used as a client was that the server was more powerful, with larger disks, more RAM, and a faster central processing unit (CPU). In addition to this, while PCs were becoming powerful enough to be used as servers, the original proprietary server computers also continued to become more powerful.

Today, vendors selling servers can be selling, in effect, souped-up PCs, or proprietary-hardware computers such as Sun Sparcs. In this book, the term PC server is used to designate a server built around a PC computer (e.g., Wintel) rather than a server computer built with proprietary hardware (e.g., Sparc).

The Token Ring, Latticenet, and Arcnet network media types originally had some marketshare, but Ethernet rapidly became the dominant network media. FreeBSD does support fiber distributed data interface (FDDI) network cards, but the Ethernet network standard is assumed in this book because it is what most 10BaseT and 100BaseT networks are made up of.

Conventions Used

Over the years, the various Microsoft OSs have developed nicknames, although, according to Microsoft, the proper way to refer to them is to use their full names. This book is not an advertisement for MS products, therefore I do not use spelled-out product names for Windows, such as Windows NT Advanced Server, numerous times in a paragraph. Using full names would not only be very tiring for the reader, but it would also make the text read like Microsoft advertising copy. So, here are the shortened terms that are used:

  • MS--Microsoft Corporation
  • Win31--Microsoft Windows 3.0 and Microsoft Windows 3.1
  • WfW--Windows for Workgroups 3.1 and Windows for Workgroups 3.11
  • Win16--All Windows 3.0, 3.1, 3.11, Windows for Workgroups 3.1 and 3.11
  • Win95, Win98, or Win95/98/ME--Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Millennium
  • NTWKS 3.51, NTWKS 4.0--Windows NT Workstation 3.51, 4.0
  • NT Server 3.51, 4.0--Windows NT Server 3.51, 4.0 and Windows NT Advanced Server 3.51, 4.0 (This book doesn't differentiate Advanced from regular NT Server.)
  • NT--used when there is no difference in the behavior of the NT Workstation and Server, as well as numeric versions
  • Win2K--Windows 2000 Professional (successor to Windows NT Workstation)
  • Win2K Server--Windows 2000 Server (successor to Windows NT 4.0 Server)

Normal text in this book is in Times New Roman. Text that is typed into the computer, such as commands, is represented in Courier. Bold Courier indicates computer output. You need to understand that space characters are just as important in command strings as they are in text characters; when typing commands, include the spaces. Special emphasis and keywords are represented in italics. In UNIX, the command interpreter assigns special meanings to double and single quotes. Text that is to be typed into the computer is always exactly what is to be typed, including all forward slashes, backslashes, and/or quote marks.

All URLs in this book are set using underlined Courier (e.g., ...

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The FreeBSD Corporate Networker's Guide 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book overall was very good because it explained many things step-by-step on how to do things like enable the built-in FreeBSD firewall and NAT router, which I was most interested in. Some of the chapters seemed a little oversimplified though and not in depth enough, like glossing over concepts assumed that the reader would have known. That's why I'm not giving it 5 stars.