Linux System Administrator's Survival Guide

31 January 2009 |

UNIX system administration used to be a skill learned by watching others, trying many things on spec, and scouring obscure magazine articles, obtuse man pages, and e-mail from others. In short, system administration was a skill that was learned over the years with no single reference to the role and functions a system administrator plays. UNIX, especially, was a tough system to administer properly because there were many versions of the software, a disparate support base, and few solid working applications. Luckily, time has changed these conditions.

With the popularity of computers in general, system administrators started writing down the details of their tasks. Publishers realized that there was a distinct and eager, albeit small, market for system administration books. The market grew as the number of systems and LANs expanded. The stabilization of the UNIX operating system in two, and now one, major version helped enormously as well.

Linux became a dominant UNIX product about two years ago when it started receiving worldwide acclaim as a reasonably stable PC version of UNIX. As more and more programmers got involved and started producing software for Linux, the attraction of the operating system continued to grow. Soon, PC users who didn't know anything about UNIX at all were running Linux and starting to deal with shells, filesystems, and devices.

After helping to write Linux Unleashed (a great book, definitely worth buying if you haven't already got a copy!), I realized that many users used that book and CD-ROM to get started with Linux, but they needed more advanced material on managing their systems and setting up network systems. That's when the Linux System Administrator's Survival Guide was born. This book expands on the Linux Unleashed material, providing more detail on many aspects of the operating system. Although some overlap exists between Linux Unleashed and this book, it has been minimized as much as possible. Relative newcomers to Linux will still find that that book is very readable, however...

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