In researching a few products for a client, I came across an e-book on Managing Linux & UNIX Servers by Dustin Peryear. I managed to get access to a chapter without registering, and I liked what I saw so much that I had to have the whole book.
The thing that is remarkable about this book to me, is that it is NOT a book about technology, commands, program execution or coding. It is a book about what to get done and why. There are so few of these kinds of books – the ones that assume that once you have a comprehensive plan for getting things done, finding out how is the easy part. The books that get that the mapping works better from the top down than the bottom up: all the man pages in the world will not help you if you don’t have the context to know which of them you should be reading, and what the end result should be when you apply that knowledge. It is the guidance that makes the difference.
I very badly want a book like this for information card Relying Parties, specifically the PKI functionality of an RP. I have work to do on my RP: right now I know I’m missing several critical checks to ensure integrity and non-repudiation for the messages I’m accepting and trusting. But how do I know that I have covered all the bases? I have this list of interoperability issues. I have a set of api calls into security libraries like xmlseclib and openssl that could possibly solve my issues. What I do not have is guidance. I feel like I’m assembling an entertainment unit from IKEA, and I have detailed engineering information on every screw and every panel in the entire IKEA inventory: thousands of weights, heights, screw thread pitches, you name it. While I technically have access to everything I could possibly need to assemble my entertainment unit, it is left up to me to figure out which and how many of the inventory items I need, how they fit together, and what order they must be assembled.
I suppose what I’m saying is we need to step above RTFM (Read the Fsking Manual) to KWFMTR (Know Which Fsking Manuals to Read).
(photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jonk/33283987/)