Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Book Review: Practical Ruby for System Administration

Apress has been putting out a number of solid Ruby books of late, and Practical Ruby for System Administration by André Ben Hamou is one of two great additions to their catalog.

André has a easy to read writing style, and covers a lot of ground in this book. The book contains a number of good examples, and would make a great book for a sys admin who’s looking into Ruby.

The most important chapter is probably the third, ‘A Practical Look at Performance’. It covers both determining whether Ruby is performant enough for systems administration tasks and analyzing and optimizing your Ruby code. Other chapters of particular note are the ninth, ‘Network Monitoring’, and the twelfth, ‘The Future of Ruby’. (Although I wish André had covered rubinius as well as YARV and JRuby in his coverage of execution environments.)

This book won’t replace The Pick-Axe as the go-to reference for a Rubyist, but it certainly belongs on the desk of your favorite sys admin (even if that’s yourself).


Thomas Lockney said...

I have to disagree on this one. I was pretty disappointed in this book. There were definitely some good parts, but overall I just don't think it really accomplishes what it should. His outright dismissal of LDAP, overtly Rails-orientedness, etc. just left me feeling that he missed the mark. But, that's why I'm writing my own review of it (started it the other day... need to find a small block of time to finish it up).

Anonymous said...


Pat, I am disappointed in your review and must agree with Thomas on this one.

The author of this book claims to have done "systems administration" FOR YEARS!!

and THESE are the kind of problems he encountered during his "years of" systems administration??

Let me give you some examples:

1. User management
2. Log file management
3. Patch management
4. Dev/Test/QA environment mgmt
5. Security Management
6. Database and Binary refreshes.

And that is just to name a few. Stop pretending like hosting a rails environment is systems administration, and stop hawking stuff which is not clearly up to par.



Anonymous said...

This is the third Apress book I've bought this year and every time i flick through one, I always swear it'll be the last...

I'm a web developer, not a sysadmin, but I think anyone with half an ounce of common sense should just buy the pick-axe book and learn the rest themselves; I always think it's very difficult to execute a book well when its scope is this limited; the same could be said about "Pro Active Record", too. I'm sticking with PragProg / O'Reilly in future, because I value consistency in technical literature.

Andrew said...

I feel I have to stick up for this book, to give credit where it's due. The author does a great job of writing a funny, engaging and for me at least, technically informative book. If you can't digest what the author is giving you here, as well as a reference like the Pickaxe, and then roll your own solutions then fair enough...would you prefer a cookbook that gives you cut-and-paste code? I found PRfSA full of interesting ideas, and I recommend anybody take a look before being swayed by opinion. It's a really unique book.