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The Practice of System and Network Administration Paperback – August 24, 2001

ISBN-13: 978-0201702712 ISBN-10: 0201702711 Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 816 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 1 edition (August 24, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0201702711
  • ISBN-13: 978-0201702712
  • Product Dimensions: 1.4 x 7.3 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #579,967 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

"Your organization needs this book!"
--Peter Salus, Chief Knowledge Officer, Matrix.Net, "The Bookworm"

This book describes the best practices of system and network administration, independent of specific platforms or technologies. It features six key principles of site design and support practices: simplicity, clarity, generality, automation, communication, and basics first. It examines the major areas of responsibility for system administrators within the context of these principles. The book also discusses change management and revision control, server upgrades, maintenance windows, and service conversions. You will find experience-based advice on topics such as:

  • The key elements your networks/systems need that will make all other services run better
  • Building and running reliable, scalable services, including email, printing, and remote access
  • Creating security policies and enforcing them
  • Upgrading thousands of hosts without creating havoc
  • Planning for and performing flawless scheduled maintenance windows
  • Superior helpdesks, customer care, and avoiding the temporary fix trap
  • Building data centers that prevent problems
  • Designing networks for speed and reliability
  • Email scaling and security issues
  • Why building a backup system isn't about backups
  • Monitoring what you have and predicting what you will need
  • How to stay technical and how not to be pushed into management

And there's more! When was the last time you read a book that dealt with:

  • Real-world technical management issues, including morale, organization building, coaching, maintaining positive visibility, and communicating with nontechnical management
  • Personal skill techniques, including our secrets for getting more done each day, dealing with less technical people, ethical dilemmas, managing your boss, and loving your job
  • System administration salary negotiation tips--the first book that includes this topic!

Chapters are divided into The Basics and The Icing. The Basics are those key elements that, when done right, make every other aspect of the job easier. Things like starting all new hosts with the same configuration and picking the right things to automate first. The Icing sections contain all those powerful things that can be done on top of the basics to wow customers and managers. Do the basics first. The icing is a vision for the future that usually only comes with decades of experience.


About the Author

Thomas A. Limoncelli is Director of Operations at Lumeta Corporation, a venture startup that focuses on intranet security. His more than 11 years of experience includes time at Drew University, Mentor Graphics, and seven years supporting the researchers and scientists at Bell Labs.

Christine Hogan is an independent consultant. Her 11-plus years of experience have been gained at a variety of different companies including Trinity College in Dublin, Synopsys, and Global Networking and Computing (GNAC). Currently, she is taking time out to earn a Ph.D. at Imperial College in London.


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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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See all 22 customer reviews
I read the book from cover to cover.
Dale Dellinger
How to hire good sysadmins, recruiting, interviewing, soft skills, technical skills, employee retention, etc.
Melissa D. Binde
Highly recommended for anyone interested or involved in system administration.
Ruth in NM

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Melissa D. Binde on April 6, 2002
Format: Paperback
Good sysadmins know the technical details. They can resurrect a dead server, understand the intricacies of sendmail or the Windows registry, and recite all of the types of DNS records by heart. They own copies of the UNIX System Administration Handbook and refer to them regularly. They are good sysadmins, and will contribute solidly at an intermediate level.
Great sysadmins know all of that and what is in this book. They are the ones who go on to become the senior sysadmins and consultants, have fabulous careers, and are respected by their bosses, co-workers, and customers.
There is much more to a technical job than simply the technical skills. Don't buy this book to learn how to run a system or you will be disappointed. Do, however, buy it to learn how to be an effective professional systems administrator.
It is also useful for a manager of sysadmins who is either non-technical, or has never been a sysadmin himself, as it is a good introduction to the issues and concerns that sysadmins need to face.
Limoncelli and Hogan cover many topics, including:
- Trouble ticket systems
- Desktops and Servers (how they're the same, differ, etc.)
- Administrative networks (why bother?)
- Requirements (gathering, tracking, etc.)
- Standards and centralization of services
- How to do debugging (not "you see this problem, do this" but rather learning the process of doing good debugging)
- Fix things once, not over and over again
- Security policies (including management and organizational issues for a variety of organizational profiles)
- Disaster Recovery (again, not how to backup data, but why you'd want to, legal issues, etc.
Read more ›
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 18, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a UNIX sysadmin veteran, I wish this book had been around when I started out. It would have saved so many headaches as I "learned the hard way."
Though not a nitty gritty technical book, this one is a must have for every sysadmin, regardless of skill level or the technology s/he uses. For the novice admin, it offers a good big picture look at the most important "whys" of system administration. For the intermediate admin, it has great advice on how to balance fire fighting with project work that will lessen the need for the fire fighting. For the senior admin, there are gems of design wisdom and sections on how to deal with being in a managerial or team leader role. Because it's more high level, this book is even a good buy for people who manage sysadmins but are not themselves technical.
The chapters are conveniently split into the "basics" and the "icing," depending on the skill of the reader and the state of the reader's work environment. The authors back up their sound advice with real world case studies and personal experiences. Best of all, not only was it a good read cover to cover, it's organized so that the reader can come back to it as a reference later.
Kudos to Tom and Christine for writing an excellent book, one which I will certainly be recommending to my clients and colleagues!
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Dale Dellinger on August 29, 2004
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book market is flooded with books that will tell you all about the technical details of administering various software products and operating systems. Their scope is usually limited to whatever technical product is being written about and they become outdated as quickly as the technology becomes outdated. This book is very different. It gives guidelines in a very readable, coaching style, that can be applied to many different aspects of the System Administration trade.

I have been a System Administrator for a few years now, but this book clarifies many of the issues that I work with daily. It's like a having a mentor on my bookshelf that I can pull down and consult for advice. I especially like the whole section of seven chapters dealing with different aspects of management. These chapters should be mandatory reading for every SA -- and their bosses.

The book is written in a very readable style and has many useful and insightful real-world examples that show that the authors have been around and learned a lot on the way. The book is worth reading just for these examples. I read the book from cover to cover.

I first heard about this book when I attended a seminar Tom Limoncelli taught at the 2003 LISA conference titled "Time Management for System Administrators: How to Keep from Going (More) Crazy". Many of the topics in the seminar are covered in detail in the book.

If you're a system administrator, you should read this book.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bejtlich on July 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
"The Practice of System and Network Administration" (TPOSANA) sat on my shelf for nearly a year before I read it. I wish now I'd read it a year ago! It's rare to find a book useful to both Windows and UNIX system administrators, but rarer still to read one designed to improve one's career and attitude.
TPOSANA is a 'framework' book. It teaches you how to think and leaves out the implementation details. System administration isn't all about man pages and tech books. The authors' principles -- simplicity, clarity, generality, automation, communication, and basics first -- will make a good sys admin great and a great sys admin extraordinary.
Others have outlined the TPOSANA contents, so I'll share my favorite aspects of the book. The writing is lively and witty, with memory-jogging conclusions nicely summarizing each chapter's contents. The text is filled with dozens of applicable and informative case studies. Finally, the authors devote seven chapters to fundamental management and personal attitude issues, showing they know people and processes matter as much as products.
I highly recommend TPOSANA. The sad irony is those most needing to read this book will push it aside, as I initally did. Those who take the time to read it will be glad they did. Anyone acting in a technical capacity -- sys admins, engineers, and programmers -- will find it enlightening and entertaining.
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