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2019-July-13 pfSense Essentials Book Writing

Sat, 13 Jul 2019 19:33:45 +0000

This week I received my printed proof from the printer and enabled it to be printed. It is now for sale at Amazon and Barnes and Noble,

I set an alarm to work on it very early a few days a week and it took me a few years. (I am blessed to only commute a few times a year, so I make sure that I don't waste that gifted time.)

This book was written using Docbook using NetBSD and vi. The print-ready book was generated with Dblatex version 0.3.10 with a custom stylesheet, pdfTeX 3.14159265-2.6-1.40.19 (Web2C 2018), and the TeX document production system installed via Tex Live and Pkgsrc. Several scripts and templates were created to help have a consistent document.

The book work was managed using the Subversion version control software. I carefully outlined my steps in utilizing the useful interfaces and identified every web and console interface. The basic writing process included adding over 350 special comment tags in the docbook source files that identified topics to cover and for every pfSense web interface PHP script (highlighting if they were main webpages from the pfSense menu). As content was written, I updated these special comments with a current status. A periodic script checked the docbook files and the generated book and reported on writing progress and current needs.

During this writing, nearly every interface was tested. In addition, code and configurations were often temporarily customized to simulate various pfSense behaviors and system situations. Most of the pfSense interface and low-level source code was studied, which helped with identifying pfSense configurations and features that didn't display in standard setups and all of its options. The software was upgraded several times and installed and ran in multiple VMs and hardware environments with many wireless and network cards, including with IPv6. In addition, third-party documentation and even source code was researched to help explain pfSense configurations and behaviors.

As part of this effort, I documented 352 bugs (some minor and some significant) and code suggestions that I found from code reading or from actual use of the system. (I need to post that.)

The first subversion commit for this book was in July 2014. It has commits in 39 different months with 656 commits total. The book's docbook source had 3789 non-printed comments and 56,193 non-blank lines of text. The generated book has over 180,000 words. My subversion logs show I have commits on 41 different Saturdays. Just re-reading with cleanup took me approximately 160 hours.

2018-12-24 GCOV/LCOV

Mon, 24 Dec 2018 22:58:01 +0000

LCOV provides a very valuable starting point on how to improve test quality, especially when visualizing large amounts of code. LCOV provides a web-based view of source code to see what parts of the code has or has not been tested.

I have been using LCOV off and on for around 7 years and it has helped me identify many missing tests and even track down real broken code. A couple years ago, I freelanced an article after approved query for the Linux Journal. For some reason, after I submitted it, I never got paid (including no kill fee) after several attempts in communication. I published it here today. Enjoy: