Book Review – Essential System Administration

Seeing as I’ve recommended this book several times on Reddit, I figured I would do a brief review of this book. Realistically this will be more of a summation of what to expect/why you should pick this book up.

In short: are you administering a flavor of UNIX or Linux? Do you need to brush up on commands or need to learn the system quickly in a short order of time? Or, are you taking over for someone who recently left, got hit by a bus, ran away, got fired? If any of those are true, (how morbid of me…) you will want this book.

This book covers concepts, command syntax & differences between each flavor of Linux. It is intended for someone who may already know by & large the mechanisms which make these types of Operating Systems work internally (e.g. on a kernel level in some way) but need to know the day to day commands to keep the system running.

Allow me to go into further detail. There is a section on Essential System Administrator commands, covering package management. In this section, commands are grouped into common functions, as such:

* List Installed Packages
* Describe Package
* List Package Contents
* List prerequisities
* Show original package

Next to these sub-headings will be the commands to perform the command that comes closest to accomplishing this task on different Operating Systems. As such:

* List Installed Packages —
-> AIX – lslpp -a all
-> FreeBSD – pkg_info -a -I
-> HP-UX – swlist
-> Linux – rpm -q -a
-> Solaris – pkginfo
-> Tru64 – setld -I

For Linux, Red Hat  is assumed as the distro of choice because of the ability to buy support. As you can see, this book is fairly straight-forward. The entire book is like this, more or less. Some chapters get into the details of certain software packages, administering certain software suites (LDAP, DNS, DHCP and so on) & the differences between the various Operating Systems therein.

I highly recommend this book to round out a System Administrator’s skillset. We can’t remember every command & we won’t remember every trick that is out there — this book helps with that. Before I forget, one of the neat things that is explained fairly simply in here is the ability to set the PAM (Pluggable Authentication Module) to use a 2FA token — I didn’t even know that was possible, let alone common & straight forward on all *NIX platforms back in 2002 (yes, apparently this book is fairly old — but these commands & System Administrator methodology doesn’t change). Buy this book — you won’t regret it.