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Linux System Administration: First Tasks

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You might know how to write code or build applications, but do you know what is required of a good Linux sysadmin?

Linux system administration has a place of its own in the hierarchy of information technology specializations. Some people excel in special areas of free software technology but haven't needed to learn system administration. For example, you may specialize in configuring e-mail or writing applications using Apache and MySQL. You may focus only on Domain Names Services and know esoteric ways of setting up servers on provider lines that frequently change IP addresses. But if I asked you to babysit a busy server or servers, you might not have the temperament or have learned the plethora of skills required to do so.

The above does not mean that good system administrators do not excel in areas such as configuring Apache, maintaining DNS zone files or writing Perl Scripts. It simply means that if you want to work as a system administrator in the Linux world, you need to know how to do everything from installing a server to securing the filesystem from mischievous crackers on the Internet. In between, you need to prepare your system to recover from the myriad ways a server can fail.

Consider, for example, a case in which you find that one of the Web sites you manage has gone down; the server has locked up and nothing works. How do you recover in the fastest possible way?

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