FreeRADIUS Beginner's Guide

Alan Buxey A.L.M.Buxey at
Wed Nov 2 22:24:57 CET 2011


> I have finally found the time to give it a look, too. Here's my review:

you beat me :-)

here is my review of the publication (summary - we've got a good FreeRADIUS
book for beginners and those wanting to get familiar with FreeRADIUS)

Book review: FreeRADIUS Beginner's Guide

There are quite a few RADIUS books on the market so when I saw a new one 
entitled "FreeRADIUS Beginner's Guide – Manage your network resources with 
FreeRADIUS" By Dirk van der Walt, I did ponder about what audience it was
aimed at. However, as the UK support for eduroam and the contact point
for UK higher/further education RADIUS proxying I thought it best that I read
it to see what it offered. So I downloaded the ebook from the Packt publishing
etwork-resources/book?tag=rk/freeradiusbg-abr1/0911  (Printed
copies are also available for a reasonable price).

Within a couple of hours of starting to read the book I was impressed
with the material offered. The author starts off with a brief introduction
and then its straight into FreeRADIUS itself. Installing the server
by distribution package is covered and how to compile from source...however
this mainly focuses on how to install by source package rather than
from the main download site - I personally prefer getting the source
direct. The author has clearly spent a lot of time using FreeRADIUS
for specific tasks - there is quite a lot of Microtik and hotspot
accounting material present in the book but that does detract from
the overall content. Some functions of FreeRADIUS are not covered
in depth with some modules given the light look or ignored, however
the book does deliver in its promise of getting a FreeRADIUS
newbie to a reasonable knowledge level before the end page. The
book is targeted to the current version of FreeRADIUS (version 2)
which is refreshing and it also covers and demystifies the built in
configuration language 'unlang' - which is also a great starting point.
I feel that this book is ideal for any RADIUS administrator who
wants to operate FreeRADIUS (experience of the Linux operating system on
which you'd run FreeRADIUS is taken for granted) and if an administrator
read this book then it would give them a strong grounding in the
subject and avoid a lot of beginner errors. Anyone who has read this book
is also far less likely to ask trivial questions on the official FreeRADIUS
users mailing list.
There are a few typos and minor errors in the text - Packt publishing
have a good errata system so these errors should be removed from
the next edition of the book - but none of them are critical. The author
covers useful testing methods - JRADIUSSimulator , which is a useful
tool but FreeRADIUS comes with a suite of testing tools and there are
alternatives that are well known by people in the sector, such as eapol_test.
The small bits of code used in the book are also downloadable from
the Packt publishing page for the book which is very useful for the beginner
who may not have any scripting ability - nothing worse than everything
failing due to a typo when following a tutorial, especially if you
are dealing with new concepts. The book mentions eduroam, an international
federated authentication system using RADIUS proxying but doesn't
go into great detail - but the foundations and grounding for how
it operates are well covered within the pages so the final requirements
for a site shouldn't be daunting (a bit of 'unlang', some work in the
proxy configuration and doing some attribute and dictionary work).

Since reading this book I have recommended it to several people in the
sector and to a couple of sites that I have done RADIUS consultancy work
for. Anyone who uses FreeRADIUS but has never been happy with current
books on offer or how the server works should buy a copy of this book. 
The only thing missing? An 'advanced users' companion book :-)


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