OpenBSD Journal

Book Review: Essential System Administration, 3rd Edition

Contributed by jose on from the from-the-essential-is-essential-is-essential-dept. dept.

floh has contributed this book review:
Having recently bought the 3rd edition of Æleen Frisch's "Essential System Administration", I decided to write a little review.
This is one of those books you just have to keep handy, and periodically have to flip through to find a jewel of information.

Title: Essential System Administration, 3rd Edition
Author: Æleen Frisch
Publisher: O'Reilly and Associates
1150 Pages, August, 2002
Rating: 10/10 (Must have)
Reviewer: Florian Kohl

I had wanted to get "Essential System Administration" 2nd Edition, but seeing that a new edition was about to come out I decided to wait for the revised Edition, more bang for the buck etc. And boy what a bang did I receive ;)

Strengths

In 17 chapters the Book covers everything a sysadmin might come across in his day to day business and is perfectly suitable for users trying to gain a deeper understanding of unix. Essential System Administration covers everything from dealing with users, setting up quotas or configuring and compiling kernels. Some chapter titles include:

  • TCP/IP Networking
  • Managing Users and Groups
  • Security
  • Backup and Restore
  • Automating Administrative Tasks
As one can see Frisch covers a wide variety of topics in her book. A chapter that I really enjoyed was "Automating Administrative Tasks" in which she explains how one can create effective shell scripts, how one can employ per for administration purposes and using expect for the automation ofinteractive programs (programs that normally would need user interaction). In the "Backup and Restore" chapter the book discusses a variety of different approaches to doing backups and all the options one has in backup media. For people needing an even more detailed approach to backup and restore procedures and options I recommend "Unix backup and recovery" (O'Reilly 1999), which I will be covering in another review.

Weaknesses

This book doesn't cover OpenBSD, which would certainly enrich the book and would fit in perfectly with detailing such a wide variety of themes. The unix flavors covered are FreeBSD, Tru64, HP-UX, Linux, Solaris and AIX. Yes, Frisch doesn't cover OpenBSD but the general concepts and ideas are portable, although you will not find deta ils on compiling OpenBSD kernels or tuning OpenBSD webservers.

Conclusion

This Book is for newbies and professionals alike, if you have no idea about system administration, this book holds your hand, if you are a professional digging for ideas you can use this book as a reference. It covers various aspects of system administration, from dealing with users, to dynamically generating graphs from CPU load, with detailed descriptions and snippets of code. I recommend this book for every unix aficionado.

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