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Perl for System Administration: Managing multi-platform environments with Perl 1st Edition

3.6 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1565926097
ISBN-10: 1565926099
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The title of David N. Blank-Edelman's new book, Perl for System Administration, is strangely redundant and thankfully misleading. The soul and source of Perl's core competence is Unix system administration, and another O'Reilly tome on Perl tricks for managing backups would not have been welcome. But the subtitle Managing Multiplatform Environments with Perl communicates the essential task: how to administer heterogeneous Unix, Windows NT/2000, and Mac OS systems from the same Perl-based conceptual platform.

Blank-Edelman introduces this diversity of notation to motivate a far-reaching discussion of system internals, and shows how Perl is a natural choice for cross-platform administration. The Unix and Windows "slash" path separators--"/" and "\", respectively--are like crossed swords, where the Mac OS uses the less- generally-known colon (":"). In lesser hands, this treatment still would have been about LAN backups, but Blank-Edelman's familiarity with network imperatives drives the synthesis.

As the topics move beyond file systems, user accounts, and process control, the tripartite division in the discussion breaks down. Treatments of TCP/IP and e-mail feature discussions of NIS, WINS, DNS, and nslookup. The chapters on directory services and SQL database management--while apparently digressive--are inserted tactically to enable elegant approaches to the more mundane administrative tasks of sending and receiving e-mail and managing log files to maximize their utility. Blank-Edelman's keen pragmatism shines in the chapter on security in which noticing intrusion earlier instead of later draws on many of the skills that are developed throughout the book. Notably, each chapter ends with a recapitulation of Perl modules that were referenced in the preceding text.

The eclectic tutorial appendices--an old revision-control system (RCS), the extensible markup language (XML), the database language (SQL), and two undermotivated and esoteric protocols (LDAP and SNMP)--are so brief as to function more as a Perl-free zone for shop talk than as valuable précis for their respective subjects.

Delightfully, this is one of Perl's and O'Reilly's best-written books. Blank-Edelman's wit buoys the argument without descending into the all-too-common parlance of sappy testimonials, hollow confessions, or the burdensome ornamentation of inside jokes and puns. --Peter Leopold

About the Author

David N. Blank-Edelman is the Director of Technology at the Northeastern University College of Computer and Information Science. He has spent the last 25 years as a system/network administrator in large multi- platform environments, including Brandeis University, Cambridge Technology Group, and the MIT Media Laboratory. He was also the program chair of the LISA 2005 conference and one of the LISA 2006 Invited Talks co-chairs.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 446 pages
  • Publisher: O'Reilly Media; 1 edition (July 21, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565926099
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565926097
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,826,855 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David N. Blank-Edelman is the Director of Technology at the Northeastern University College of Computer and Information Science and the author of the O'Reilly book Automating System Administration with Perl. He has spent the last 25 years as a system/network administrator in large multi- platform environments, including Brandeis University, Cambridge Technology Group, and the MIT Media Laboratory. He was the program chair of the LISA 2005 conference and one of the LISA 2006 Invited Talks co-chairs. He delights in finding how creativity can further the field as demonstrated in his off-the-beaten-path invited talks and tutorials at various conferences and speaking engagements.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This book focuses on using CPAN modules for system administration. This is not always done in practice, because one has to deal with systems behind firewalls and at most a halfway new perl installation. But once one has the choice, it's good to go for the CPAN modules. The book selects a few of those to demonstrate the case. The author is meticulous in explaining the examples. But he is not a perl hacker, so he does things of the sort: $x = $x ? $x : $y; where one would use: $x ||= $y; and many other things which twist a perl hackers brain. But by the choice of the topics including SQL and LDAP etc. he will help a lot of sysadmins.
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Heck, i haven't even looked at the main part of this book, but the appendicies are priceless. A fifteen minute crash course on SQL? An 8 minute crash course on XML? Like treatment is given to RCS, LDAP, and SNMP. I've used this book for less than an hour of my life, and it's been a terriffic investment.
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The biggest asset of this book is the author's expert knowledge of the three platforms (Unix, Windows NT/2000, Mac) and the in-depth coverage he gives to each. With almost every Perl sysadmin tool he covers, he outlines the OS-specific Perl modules necessary to make the tool work on any of the platforms. This book is truly unique in that regard.
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I've been wondering what programming language I wanted to get involved with. At first I decided that it was going to be C since I could do a lot more stuff with it, or so I thought. I had been reading up on Perl and how it is basically the scripting language that ends all scripting languages. So I decided to get this book before actually getting a How-To Perl book to see if it was as usefull as I thought it might be. Oh yes, was it ever. Needless to say I promptly went and bought Learning Perl 2nd Edition from my favorite publisher O'Reilly and am about to dive into it. Highly recommended book for anyone who's not sure if they want to get into Perl or not.
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If you already use Perl for system administration you don't need this book.
If you understand Perl, but are interested in learning more about system administration you might enjoy this book.
If you're a sysadmin who doesn't know Perl (is there such an animal?), you should read this book.
Fairly even coverage of Unix and Windows. Even a few Mac items thrown in. I was disappointed that this book didn't cover more advanced subjects.
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This book is very uncanny in that it is able to cover advanced administration procedural concepts (such as log rotation) and networking technologies (like SNMP), and the automation that applies to these areas. The coverage is from a platform neutral perspective, but does delve into platform specific solutions where needed, e.g. Windows events vs. UNIX syslogs, Active Directory vs. LDAP, etc. What is nice is that these system or network administration chores, is that the coverage uses generic cross-platform libraries (Mozilla's LDAP modules for example), but where needed delves into platform specific libraries such as ADSI (for Active Directory LDAP OLE-DB provider).

I highly recommend this book as supplementary material for existing scripting books and system administration books. I would note that the material is advanced and would be suited for those already familar with intermediate Perl programming (map, grep, array slicing, split, etc.) and advanced system administration and network administration concepts (or ability and eagerness to learn)
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I happened to read this book from a friend of mine, David has really done a wonderful job. He has tried to clearly guide the Systems Administrators. The book explains the essential components of using perl for writing programs to perform day-to-day task and some crucial tasks. This is purely my opinion and am planning to buy a copy for my use. I feel it needs to be in the personal collection of every budding System Administrator.
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