TL;DR: I wrote and self-published an iBook: “Packaging for Apple Administrators”. Go get it on iBooks!
Call it arrogance or hubris, but I have been pondering to write a book on Mac System Adminstration for a long time.
Personally, I have learned much from other people in the community and at work. I have tried to give back in a similar way in the various fora, on this weblog and by participating and presenting at conferences. But there is something about a book, even in digital form, where you can spend so much more time with a topic than a blog post or even a presentation can ever do.
However, there is always something else that seems more important. Usually a full-day job to pay the bills.
Recently, however, something happened. My wife got a wonderful offer from a university in Europe. We decided we could not pass up on that and moved the family back over the Atlantic. That gave me an opportunity to reconsider what I care about in my job and career. All along this there was this nagging voice whispering: “If you don’t do it now, you never will.”
So I started writing.
This iBook is an experiment on many levels.
I went down several dead ends. I have re-written, put aside, and discarded more than will be published in the end. I guess that’s normal. Some of the pieces which cannot or will not be used now, are ‘parked,’ hopefully to be used later. Maybe they will only serve as a reminder of where I came from and will be good for a laugh later on.
It is an experiment on wether I can self-publish a book on Mac management. If you are reading this, this part succeeded, at least. It’s a start.
I decided to self-publish on the iBooks store. This will allow me faster turnaround times for debugging. It will also allow me to keep the iBook up to date as I learn more on the topic (which I undoubtedly will) and when the OS and other tools get updated.
I also chose to make the book comparatively short. It has about a hundred or so iBook pages. This will make it easier to update it for the unvoidable bugs and errors and also to adapt the book to future OS upgrades. I also hope it will make more palatable to read and work through and a bit less daunting.
It is an experiment on wether self-publishing a book like this to an extremely niche market (Mac administration) is worth the effort and can pay my bills.
This book is the result of months and months of planning, writing, back-tracking and starting over. I also hope that what I learned in the past months means that I can write and publish a next book much faster.
Because of the experimental nature, I chose a well contained topic. There are many other skills and topics for Mac Administration that can and need to be addressed and that I hope to be able to address in the future.
The topic I chose for the first book is ‘Packaging.’
Using, analyzing and building installer packages is very fundamental to a system administrator’s job. Every management system relies on packages to deploy software, files and scripts to some degree.
Many questions on the different Mac Administrator fora is answered with “put it in a package” with the common reply of “yeah, I really need to learn more about packaging.”
This is your chance!
This book will guide from analyzing packages and their contents to simple projects where you build your own packages. In the end there will be some failry complex packaging projects. The examples chosen are ‘real-world’ projects from my work as a system administrator. Some of the projects should be useful for your deployment right away. I also chose the examples so they cover a spectrum of problems and can be adapted to other problems.
If you are just briefly aware of packaging and scripting in the Mac community, you will have heard of autopkg and AutoPkgr. Originally I had planned to cover these in the first book (and much more). But the sheer versatility, complexity and and power of these tools would have delayed this book even more than it already is.
I do hope I get the chance to write that follow-up book. And many more.