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The Practice of System and Network Administration, Second Edition 2nd Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 078-5342492668
ISBN-10: 0321492668
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Editorial Reviews

From the Back Cover

The first edition ofThe Practice of System and Network Administrationintroduced a generation of system and network administrators to a modern IT methodology. Whether you use Linux, Unix, or Windows, this newly revised edition describes the essential practices previously handed down only from mentor to protégé. This wonderfully lucid, often funny cornucopia of information introduces beginners to advanced frameworks valuable for their entire career, yet is structured to help even the most advanced experts through difficult projects.

The book's four major sections build your knowledge with the foundational elements of system administration. These sections guide you through better techniques for upgrades and change management, catalog best practices for IT services, and explore various management topics. Chapters are divided into The Basics and The Icing. When you get the Basics right it makes every other aspect of the job easier--such as automating the right things first. The Icing sections contain all the powerful things that can be done on top of the basics to wow customers and managers.

Inside, you'll find advice on topics such as

  • The key elements your networks and systems need in order to make all other services run better
  • Building and running reliable, scalable services, including web, storage, email, printing, and remote access
  • Creating and enforcing security policies
  • Upgrading multiple hosts at one time without creating havoc
  • Planning for and performing flawless scheduled maintenance windows
  • Managing superior helpdesks and customer care
  • Avoiding the "temporary fix" trap
  • Building data centers that improve server uptime
  • Designing networks for speed and reliability
  • Web scaling and security issues
  • Why building a backup system isn't about backups
  • Monitoring what you have and predicting what you will need
  • How technically oriented workers can maintain their job's technical focus (and avoid an unwanted management role)
  • Technical management issues, including morale, organization building, coaching, and maintaining positive visibility
  • Personal skill techniques, including secrets for getting more done each day, ethical dilemmas, managing your boss, and loving your job
  • System administration salary negotiation

It's no wonder the first edition received Usenix SAGE's 2005 Outstanding Achievement Award!

This eagerly anticipated second edition updates this time-proven classic:

  • Chapters reordered for easier navigation
  • Thousands of updates and clarifications based on reader feedback
  • Plus three entirely new chapters: Web Services, Data Storage, and Documentation

About the Author

Thomas A. Limoncelli is a noted system and network administrator employed at Google. He speaks at conferences worldwide on a variety of topics.

Christina J. Hogan has more than ten years' system administration experience. She now works at the BMW Sauber F1 team as an aerodynamicist.

Strata R. Chalup is a twenty-year veteran of system administration and technical project management. She is the founder of Virtual.Net, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Addison-Wesley Professional; 2 edition (July 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0321492668
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321492661
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 2.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,070 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Granja on February 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this based on the positive Amazon reviews. I am an experienced system administrator and IT Manager and my intent as a reader was to help me assess my own practices and give insight into things I hadn't considered or had overlooked. I would say if you have significant real world experience then this book isn't for you. However, if you are newer to the field and want to get an idea of the type of things systems/network administrators work with, then I don't think I've seen any other book that covers as much ground, nor that does it in a more friendly manner. It's very general so just don't consider the information to be authoritative or to offer you tools that you'd use in the work place after getting some years of experience in the field.

I actually found it very hard to review this book. Based on their "resumes", the authors have extensive industry knowledge and perspectives. The frustrating thing is that it doesn't come out in this book. There is no real in-depth look at different options or methodologies, nor do areas of discussion seem comprehensive by any measure. I kept asking myself, "Where's the meat?". True, at times there are actually solid recommendations and new ideas, but it just isn't the nature of the book.

On the other hand, when I looked at it as an introduction to the career of system/network administration, I had to admit that the friendly and approachable tone is refreshing and appropriate. The ambition of its scope is laudable. I see it as a high school "overview of this career" book, but written for an older audience. If you are that audience, then this book will be helpful to get you started, and I think you will appreciate it. However, after a few years in the field when you come back to this book you may find that you have outgrown it.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This book is wonderful, and my personal favorite, beating out even the legendary 'Unix and Linux System Administration Handbook'

Don't get me wrong, you really need to read both, and 'Time Management for System Administrators' while you're at it, but this book is far more about a high-level overview of how and why to build a good SA team and methodology behind offering services *in a way that is useful to the business*, rather than just what MTA to use, for example.

This book covers "what do I call my servers", and so many other boring things you're going to overlook until it's far too late. It is geared more at office sysadmins than datacenter sysadmins (what I do), but in my experience, there is so much you can get from this as a datacenter sysadmin as well.

In my mind, this is the sort of stuff that separates a junior sysadmin from a midlevel sysadmin - a junior sysadmin can sit down and give you a long, nuanced, and extremely passionate overview of nginx vs apache... yet they probably don't have a very good server inventory or monitoring, just some minor stuff.

And then there's extremely junior SAs... you know, the rockstars. Documentation? Man, they don't write something unless it's untested code in some language that was invented last week and is trending on Reddit and is going to run at 80 million connections a second from the minute you start it up until the minute it forkbombs the server off the net. Which is only five minutes later, but they won't have the monitoring or profiling to know that. Rockstars don't *need* monitoring, and they certainly don't need an inventory or documentation.

Businesses do though, and eventually they get tired of their production environment looking like a rockstar's used and abused hotel room.

Reading this book is the first step to recovery.
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Format: Paperback
At first, I thought that this book might be too basic but that is not the case. It explains how to build and maintain a computer network - servers, workstations, network devices - and explains how to make decisions based on your requirements, not just how to make things work. Making things work is very important. But to be a world-class network administrator, you've got to understand how to make decisions, and how to weigh options. This fabulous book takes you into the problem solving, decision making minds of two experienced administrators. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to go past twiddling configurations into the realm of building a useable, stable, maintainable enterprise network. System administration books tend to focus on how to accomplish particular, important tasks - along with providing background information on computers, networks, and services. Those books are tremendously valuable, because they centralize information and often explain system details that documentation leaves out.
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"The Practice of System and Network Administration" is different from most of the other technical books on a professional SA's bookshelf. This book is about how to become a professional system administrator.

The profession is about more than knowning obscure options to different commands. To become a professional, a system administrator needs to change mindset from a straight-ahead techie to a member of the team who has specialized expertise.

System administration has not always been recognized as a profession. System administrators themselves are partly to blame for that. We have tended to focus strictly on technology and not on how to structure our work to benefit both ourselves and the organizations we work for. Limoncelli, Hogan and Chalup have put togeter a great standard reference for people who are ready to transition to being professional system administrators.
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