The Linux Sysadmin's Essential Bookshelf

Posted by tuxchick on Nov 6, 2005 9:07 AM EDT
LXer feature; By Carla Schroder
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A system administrator pretty much has to be able to do anything- network voodoo, user education, pull cable, build servers, fix hardware, fend off clueless management, and myriad more tasks. With these in mind, here is my own Essential Bookshelf for the Hardworking, Underappreciated, Overworked, Conscientious Sysadmin.

Linux In A Nutshell, by Ellen Siever, Stephen Figgins, Robert Love, Arnold Robbins, Aaron Weber. This book contains a universe of Linux commands in one book. Don't leave home without it.

The Cathedral and the Bazaar, by Eric Raymond. Whatever you think of Mr. Raymond's contemporary ravings, this is a wonderful, inspiring read.

Open Sources: Voices from the Open Source Revolution, by Chris DiBona, Sam Ockman, Mark Stone. Another inspirational work, a collection of writings by such FOSS luminaries as Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, Larry Wall (for a peek into an inventive, unconventional mind, definitely read Mr. Wall's chapter), Brian Behlendorf, and many more. It's a fascinating look into how all this great FOSS stuff came into being.

The Linux Cookbook, by Carla Schroder. OK, so this is a shameless plug for my own book- but I think it's a pretty darn good book for sysadmins. This should sit next to your main computer, right next to "Linux In A Nutshell," because it's full of step-by-step howtos for all the basic sysadmin chores: user management, running servers, backups and restores, system recovery, kernel building, and bales more neat stuff. You want to know which button to push, this is the book for you. Plus it gives equal time to Debian, unlike the majority of Linux books which assume Red Hat = Linux.

The Linux Cookbook, by Michael Stutz. Yes, there are two Linux Cookbooks. This one is 800+ pages of great howtos, with hardly any overlap with the Other Linux Cookbook; this one has lots more desktop-oriented chapters. Buy 'em both, you won't be sorry.

Learning the Bash Shell, by Cameron Newham. Awesome tutorial on mastering the default Linux command shell, Bash. The Bash shell is extremely powerful and versatile; ace sysadmins needing to hone their scripting skillz need this book. The better you can script, the easier your job gets.

TCP/IP Network Administration, by Craig Hunt. The key to really understanding what's happening on a Linux system and on your network is having a thorough understanding of TCP/IP. All manner of mysterious events become clear when you dig into TCP/IP.

Secrets and Lies, by Bruce Schneier. Actually everything by Mr. Schneier is essential reading. He has a sensible approach to security that most security gurus completely lack. Like writing down passwords- what idiot ever started the "don't write them down, but instead dream up elaborate memorizing hacks" movement? Hurrah for Mr. Schneier's voice of reason.

Linux in a Windows World, by Roderick W. Smith. Very good for sysadmins of mixed LANs, which is like practically all of them. It covers single sign-on, file and printer sharing, and lots more good stuff about making dommed Windows and excellent Linux play nicely together.

Be sure to check out Safari Tech Books Online. For a small monthly subscription fee you get online access to hundreds of books from many different publishers. Us authors don't make much from Safari :( but it's a great resource for readers.

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