Essential System Administration, 3rd edition (en anglais) (Anglais) Broché – 27 septembre 2002
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One of the things I appreciate most about this book is the organization. Rather than listing out a bunch of technical information, each chapter deals with a specific task that a sysadmin needs to be able to do, and the information to carry out that task is contained within the chapter, rather than making references to other chapters or appendices, as is common practice.
This is another book that delivers the excellence I've come to expect from O'Reilly.
Over the years, I have administered several multi-user UNIX, Linux, and FreeBSD servers. I believed that I knew the essentials, because if I did not, I would not have been able to do my job all these years. I wanted to see if the things that I learned by experience, often the hard way, are included in "Essential System Administration". Sure enough, they were all there. Not only that, but they are laid out simply, without much unnecessary technical details, and accompanied by numerous examples and anecdotal encounters by the author. If you read one section, you would be able to apply the knowledge and skills that it describes right away. For instance, you don't need to read the entire manual of procmail in order to write some effective mail filters; chapter 9 has a section on "Mail Filtering with procmail" that covers the essentials.
One impressive feature of this book is that it covers how to do things on a variety of operating system including various flavours of UNIX, Linux, and BSD. In the past, I often ran into a situation where I knew how to do something on FreeBSD, but did not know how to accomplish the same task on Solaris. With this book by my side, I will not have this problem again.
Another feature of the book is that it covers a very, VERY, very wide variety of administrative topics: from every day system management, to operating system internals, to various devices, to backing up, to scheduling, to rebuilding the kernel. I am yet to find a task, whether typical or atypical, that is not covered in "Essential System Administration".
But wait, are not most, if not all, of these topics encountered in a user's daily life? Are mail filters limited only to system administrators? Of course not! Many users organize their email by defining personal mail filters. And what about devices? Every user who uses a Linux-based desktop computer goes through the frustration of configuring devices at some point. "Essential System Administration" is really written to be useful for any UNIX/Linux/BSD user, not only system administrators.
On a second thought, any one who owns a computer running UNIX/Linux/BSD is the administrator of one's system. Not only that, but anyone who uses one of these system must still manage their own account and perform tasks such as scheduling tasks, emailing, and printing. "Essential System Administration" was not written for system administrators in the traditional sense -- someone who is paid to administer an expensive system with hundreds or thousands of users -- but for the administrator in the broad sense -- any user who wishes to perform some management tasks on their system.
"Essential System Administration" is an invaluable resource for anyone who wishes to become an expert in system administration, and is a useful resource for users of these systems. I give this book 4.5 out of 5.
It is a big book, much of which I feel is fluff, but if this was your only book on the topic, you would still be ok. The wording just isn't as clear as I'd prefer.
I bought and read this book prior to starting my first job as a system administrator. I learned a bit, but as I wasn't a rank beginner, it wasn't really all that much. Besides the fact that the material is dated, I found the multi-vendor approach to be somewhat detrimental. As I was going to work for a Debian-based shop, the material for the commercial versions of Unix did me no good, resulting in what is essentially, wasted space.
For someone who is brand new to unix and is going to be thrown to the wolves as a system administrator, this book would be worth reading, and given that target audience, this is an excellent book. But if you're already somewhat familiar with the concepts of running and managing a unix based system, your time and money are better spent on other products