Customer Reviews: Essential System Administration (Nutshell Handbooks)
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Showing 1-10 of 36 reviews(5 star). Show all reviews
on January 30, 2000
From the book--" This book is the foundation volume for O'Reilly & Associates' system administration series...provides you with the fundamental information needed by everyone who takes care of UNIX systems...consciously avoids trying to be all things to all people; the other books in the series treat individual topics in 'complete' detail." This book gives he reader a good understanding of what goes on under the hood of a UNIX system, without getting you bogged down in the details, and also points out the diff. and sim. b/w many variants of the OS(BSD,SCO,AIX,...). You need to know a little about scripts and a few tools to get the most of the book, it's not for complete beginners, but it is very clearly written. I had been using Linux for about 9 months before buying this book, and had worked with SCO and SunOS on the job for about 5 or so years(off and on). Almost every page had an answer to a question I have asked myself over that time. "UNIX Power Tools"(1-56592-260-3)works really well as a companion book to this one. tells the ins and outs of the commands and such.
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on March 1, 2000
I'm a graduate student in chemistry who purchased this book when I was charged with assisting my department's system administrator. I had previous experience as an occasional Unix user, but certainly was no expert.
This book was a very useful resource to me in my first few months on the job, and still provides me with answers to occasional problems I run into. The conversational tone and organization by subject matter made the book very readable when I wanted to sit down with it, but it also was modular enough so that I could skip to whatever topics I needed to learn about quickly. The author's descriptions of her own experiences as system administrator have an honest and practical feel to them. (For example, early in the book she gives a time breakdown of her typical day with tasks ranging from setting up new user accounts to moving around office furniture to accomodate new computer equipment.)
For me, an added strength of this book is that it provides descriptions of how to accomplish the same task on different variants of Unix. This has been especially important for me since I deal with computers running Digital Unix, AIX, IRIX, and Linux. The book does a good job of taking a seemingly overwhelming amount of material and presenting it in a very manageable format.
Clearly a Unix book can't contain every answer in the world, but I find that this book still is a place I go to first for answers unless I'm looking for a very specific piece of information. I think this book is excellent for the intermediate Unix user who suddenly finds himself or herself in the position of caring for a number of computers. This is the most useful general purpose Unix book that I have purchased, and I recommend it highly.
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on January 10, 2000
I really liked how the author organized this book by task, and then provided an explanation of each task in Solaris, HP-UX, AIX, Linux, etc. A very well organized, easy to follow reference that should be on every UNIX System Administrators bookshelf. The beginning SysAdmin should find it very educational. Intermediate SysAdmins should find this book to be an essential reference. Advanced SysAdmins may want to teach out of this book. All in all, well worth your time.
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on October 20, 2001
I purchased this book as to satisfy my fascination with unix-based systems - I mean, after a while cd, mv, and mkdir just won't do anymore. It is an excellent book explaining the intricacies of unix-based systems and the differences between them. It covers topics such as the management of processes and devices, the filesystem, essentials in administrative tools, startup and shutdown, managing users, securing your system from others, automating your work, backups, system resources, even configuring kernels and TCP/IP Network Management. It explains everything in great detail in a way that's clear to understand while making the reader feel good about him/herself. Even though I didn't end up a system administrator after reading the book, I enjoyed it.
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on October 2, 2001
Did you know the "-p" option of "mkdir" can create several directory levels at once: "mkdir -p all/these/at/once" ? Or that you can use "cp -p" to preserve the modification times of the original file? Ever use "man -k <keyword>"? After thirteen years of Unix, I learned many new tricks including commands I never used before but now can't live without, like xargs. I now have a 100% rock-solid understanding of Unix file system permissions, including SUID, SGID, sticky bit, etc. Many formerly nebulous areas are now crystal clear.

Someone criticized this book for harping too much on SCO, a less popular version of Unix. It's true, but those parts are well-marked and quickly skipped.

I have bought some mediocre O'Reilly books, but this one's full of precious tidbits and lucid explanations. It's a major confidence-booster, mandatory for aspiring power users and developers. (If you are really doing system administration then the Nemeth, et. al. book is also a must-have; it's more pure admin. If you feel you must choose between the two books, get off it and buy both!) This will give you some knowledge your local admins don't have. If you work in a competitive environment, this is some serious armament.
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Bought my first copy of Æleen Frisch's Essential System Administration in January 1999 after going through almost half a dozen 'recommended' titles of books that had more to do with command line reference, than performing the duties of a UNIX SysAdmin. It became an essential reference, though the first time I read it cover to cover.

The reason I'm posting this so many years later is that I've been cleaning out my old SysAdmin bookshelf, deciding what to trash, what to give away and what to keep. This one is a keeper, though it would be far wiser for the beginning UNIX SysAdmin to go for Essential System Administration, Third Edition by the same author. It's a more up-to-date choice if you're going to be administering HP-UX, Linux, AIX, Solaris, FreeBSD or almost any other UNIX flavor.

Some of the info is dated, but the essentials of UNIX administration generally remain the same as they've been for years, and Æleen Frisch makes it all easy to follow. Other personal favorites that I've owned over the years include the following titles:

◆ UNIX Power Tools, Third Edition; 5-stars
◆ UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook (4th Edition); 5-stars
◆ UNIX System Administrator's Bible; overly verbose but good, 4-stars
◆ Learning the vi and Vim Editors; 5-stars

Books on UNIX, Linux and system administration can be like a takeoff of the title of the classic Clint Eastwood spaghetti Western. You'll find the good, the bad and the ugly, so read the reviews carefully. And remember, reviews, just like mine here, can be subjective opinions where we express our own thoughts. I'll also recommend a particular hard-to-find title that I own and reviewed here some years ago, as it's a true UNIX and literary classic:

◆ The UNIX Hater's Handbook; the humorous side of UNIX, 5-stars

Essential System Administration, Third Edition by Æleen Frisch lives up to its title, in the opinion of this former SysAdmin and Project Mangler (from a misprinted business card) who spent years in the field. Some of the other titles are only available as used editions, while others are newly updated, so pick what works best for your own needs.

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on December 6, 1999
I am fairly new to Linux. After being repeatedly frustrated by books such as "Mastering Linux" which offer little in the way of any concrete Linux knowledge, I came across this book at a bookstore. I immediately bought it and was pleased to discover that it essentially answered almost every UNIX question that I had. This book goes in depth where other books fail, and describes how to do things via the command line, where books such as Mastering Linux only tend to tell you how to do things through KDE and GNOME. Don't miss this one; it reads like a novel. I could hardly put it down.
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I am fairly new to Linux, and started by purchasing a number of O'Reilly's other titles on Linux. Some of them were very good, some of them not so good. While I have two working Linux boxes on my company network, I still had many unanswered questions about why things worked the way they did. I initially avoided this book because it was for Unix system administration, however, in a fit of desperation I purchased it and it has been *the* most useful general purpose book I have purchased for using Linux.
Certainly there are a number of specific purpose books that cover many of the topics presented here in greater detail, however, for an overview of the entire system--how it works and why it works the way it does this book is indespensable.
All you Linux users out there should get this book!
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on July 2, 2001
As a general view of Systems Administration and as a guide to Unix systems in general, this book is simply the best. Unless you are fortunate to be the administrator of a single Unix system, this book is a tremendous help as a starting point for trouble shooting and performing those mundane tasks that have to be done on a routine basis.
The book is excellently written. She has covered a rather large topic in 700+ pages (excluding index.)
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on November 21, 2000
What I like a lot about this book is not only the usual wealth of information you come to expect with any O'Reilly book, but also the "sidebars" contained throughout the book that offer light-hearded, "common-sense" tips about being a sysadmin. The cover of this book features an armadillo, and I like the analogy. I briefly was a system administrator, and you do need to have a thick skin like the armadillo to do this kind of job!
Each chapter is very descriptive of specific commands. There is good info on system startup and the section on troubleshooting system crashes is excellent. Also contained are sections on adding users and groups, system security issues, mounting and unmounting filesystems, data backup and recovery issues, a chapter on writing scripts to do some of the "menail sy admin tasks," and even a chapter on TCP/IP Network Management.
The book also explains the "differencies" in various Unix OS's. Different Unix OS (AIX, SunOS, System V, and Solaris have their own little idiosyncracies at times) may have different ways or commands to do a particular task and this book makes a point to explain them all in great detail.
Even though the book is a few years old, it still contains valuable information about UNIX system administration.
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