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UNIX System Administration Handbook (3rd Edition) 3rd Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 007-6092029496
ISBN-10: 0130206016
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The third edition of Unix System Administration Handbook stands as a fantastic Unix book, perhaps one that's destined for legend. It's arguably the best general Unix book around. Don't delay in getting it, and don't spend too much time flinching at the price; it's worth it. If you work with Unix--in any of its flavors--you'll use this book, and frequently.

How, then, to begin the song of praises for the book? Let's start with its comprehensiveness. The authors--a whole passel of them, but miraculously consistent in style--deal with every subject that's central to the Unix universe. Their diligence extends even to detailed coverage of subjects (like the Domain Name System (DNS)) that many authorial squads omit. System administrators need to understand it all--it's good to see everything covered in one book. Of course, you still will need more focused texts for really complicated situations, but the coverage here will carry you a long way.

Although you probably will want to read this book cover to cover eventually, you might first look at the index, which typically will guide you to a couple of sections. First, an overview of the subject that interests you will explain what the service or feature is meant to do, what it isn't meant to do, and how (in fairly general terms) it does its job. You'll find four sections--one each on the relevant configuration facts of the four emphasized Unix variants. These sections aren't presented as explicit sequences of steps (which invariably leave the reader asking, "But, what if... " anyway), but as narratives that are interspersed with commands and configuration file listings. The approach works well, and it's made even better by the syntax summaries and conceptual diagrams that pop up now and then. --David Wall

Topics covered: Administration of Unix systems, with specific reference to Solaris 2.7, HP-UX 11.00, Red Hat Linux 6.2, and FreeBSD 3.4. Administration is a broad subject, and the authors touch on most of its aspects, including user and file operations (basic and advanced), hardware configuration, and kernel tweaking. Networking coverage includes basic connectivity, routing, server software, DNS, and security.

From the Inside Flap


When we were writing the first edition of this book in the mid-1980s, we were eager to compare our manuscript with other books about UNIX system administration. To our delight, we could find only three. These days, you have your choice of at least fifty. Here are the features that distinguish our book:

We take a practical approach. Our purpose is not to restate the contents of your manuals but rather to give you the benefit of our collective experience in system administration. This book contains numerous war stories and a wealth of pragmatic advice.

We cover UNIX networking in detail. It is the most difficult aspect of UNIX system administration, and the area in which we think we can most likely be of help to you.

We do not oversimplify the material. Our examples reflect true-life situations, with all their warts and unsightly complications. In most cases, the examples have been taken directly from production systems.

We emphasize the use of software tools. Every piece of software mentioned in the text is either a standard UNIX tool or is freely available from the Internet—sometimes both, since many vendors don't do a perfect job of keeping up with new releases.

We cover all the major variants of UNIX.

Our four example systems

There have historically been two main flavors of UNIX: one from AT&T (known generically as System V) and one from the University of California, Berkeley (known as BSD). Neither AT&T nor Berkeley is still active in the UNIX marketplace, but the terms "AT&T UNIX" and "Berkeley UNIX" live on.This book covers four different operating systems:

Solaris 2.7

HP-UX 11.00

Red Hat Linux 6.2

FreeBSD 3.4 (and bits of 4.0)

We chose these systems because they are among the most popular and because they illustrate a broad range of approaches to UNIX administration. The first two systems are similar to AT&T UNIX, FreeBSD is a direct descendant of Berkeley UNIX, and Red Hat Linux is something of a mix.

We provide detailed information about each of these example systems for every topic that we discuss. Comments specific to a particular operating system are marked with the manufacturer's logo.

There are many other versions of UNIX. Most fall within the range of variation defined by these four systems, but a few (such as AIX and SCO) are so beautifully strange that they must be taken on their own terms.

The organization of this book

This book is divided into three large chunks: Basic Administration, Networking, and Bunch o' Stuff.

Basic Administration provides a broad overview of UNIX from a system administrator's perspective. The chapters in this section cover most of the facts and techniques needed to run a stand-alone UNIX system.

The Networking section describes the protocols used on UNIX systems and the techniques used to set up, extend, and maintain networks. High-level network software is also covered here. Among the featured topics are the Domain Name System, the Network File System, routing, sendmail, and network management.

Bunch o' Stuff includes a variety of supplemental information. Some chapters discuss optional software packages such as the UNIX printing system (or more accurately, systems ). Others give advice on topics ranging from hardware maintenance to the politics of running a UNIX installation.

Contact information

In this edition, we're pleased to welcome Adam Boggs, Rob Braun, Dan Crawl, Ned McClain, Lynda McGinley, and Todd Miller as contributing authors. We've turned to them for their deep knowledge in a variety of areas (and also for their ability to function amid the shifting sands of this book and its temperamental parents). Their contributions have greatly enriched the overall content of the book and the collective experience that we're able to share with you.

Please send suggestions, comments, typos, and bug reports to sa-book@admin. We answer all mail, but please be patient; it is sometimes a few days before one of us is able to respond. To get a copy of our current bug list and other late-breaking information, visit our web site at admin.

We hope you enjoy this book, and we wish you the best of luck with your adventures in system administration!Evi Nemeth
Garth Snyder
Scott Seebass
Trent R. HeinJune, 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 896 pages
  • Publisher: Prentice Hall; 3 edition (September 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0130206016
  • ISBN-13: 978-0130206015
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #273,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Phillip Wherry on November 27, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is the latest iteration of an absolutely essential guide to the art and science of Unix system administration. The authors earn my respect for calling things as they see them; while sometimes this is good for a chuckle (some of their swipes at Sun for nonstandard and stupid things in Solaris), it's even more useful when they're citing best practices. For those familar with Mark Minasi's books on Windows NT/2000, the tone is pretty similar. Though it won't be the largest computer book on your shelf, the information content (or "signal to noise ratio") is very, very high. What's not to like? The price, for one thing: at $68 (list), this is an extremely expensive paperback. The book also makes reference to a number of things on the companion web site ([...]) - but the site itself hasn't been updated since the second edition, so the supplemental materials (which used to be on an included CD-ROM) simply aren't available right now (27-Nov-2000). Hopefully the authors will correct this problem in the not-too-distant future.
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I am a senior engineer for network security operations. I read "UNIX System Administration Handbook, Third Edition" (USAH:3E) to improve my knowledge of UNIX systems from a security analyst perspective. I am not a professional system administrator and I am not qualified to refute USAH:3E's advice. Nevertheless, because I deal with FreeBSD, Linux, and Solaris on a daily basis, I found USAH:3E to be insightful and invaluable.

USAH:3E stands out for three reasons. First, it covers the three most popular UNIX operating systems I know: FreeBSD, Linux, and Solaris. (The authors also support HP-UX, but I have no direct experience with that OS.) By comparing the features and configuration of multiple operating systems, USAH:3E is frequently far more educational than a single-OS book. USAH:3E is the one OS book I would include in my incident response kit, along with "Incident Response" by Mandia/Prosise/Pepe.

Second, USAH:3E is written to inform and entertain, and does both very well. While most OS books are content to explain the "what," and few include the "how," USAH:3E also delivers the "why." USAH:3E peers deep into the workings of the OS, but keeps the discussion clear and concise. For example, pp. 48-51 provide an excellent discussion of signals. Table 4.1 lists 13 'UNIX signals that every administrator should know,' showing whether processes can catch or block each. This chart and the text finally illuminated the difference between 'kill PID' and 'kill -9 PID' at the level of the OS. Furthermore, the writing style is direct, with numerous humorous references and personal opinions.
The third unique aspect of USAH:3E is the author's uncanny ability to include relevant hints and trivia.
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Format: Paperback
If you have the slightest interest in Unix system administration, you NEED this book... it will either equip you for the job or make you consider a new line of work.
The changes in the IT industry over the last five years are reflected in the third edition of this book, as it now focuses only on Solaris, HP-UX, FreeBSD, and RedHat Linux. While this is a good cross-section of all *nixes, users of SunOS, OSF/1, or IRIX looking for platform-specific examples should probably stick with the second edition (and it comes with a CD).
Other significant changes to the book include expanded coverage of networking (for example, TCP/IP and Routing are now two separate chapters) and a new chapter on "hosting the satanic banquet" of a mixed Windows/Unix environment (which I find invaluable). Also, topics of diminishing importance (such as Usenet) no longer have their own chapters, but are still covered in appropriate detail.
I can not praise this book highly enough, and Linus Torvalds agrees with me. What more convincing do you need? ;-)
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This book is by far the best book out there for general UNIX system adminstration. The third edition is even better than the second. Whereas the second edition sometimes got bogged down in trying to mention too many different UNIX flavors, this new addition just concentrates on four main ones (HP-UX, Solaris, Red Hat Linux, and BSD). An excellent decision because it nows has great details and specifics about the four types. An excellent reference and it's entertaining to read too! Highly recommended.
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After reading the reviews for this book, I rushed out to buyit. I have overseen operations for a Unix system but not been ahardcore administrator per se. Nevertheless I've had to perform basictasks to keep it going. I decided it was time to become much more Unixsavvy. I've read about half the guide and perused the rest. It is aclass piece of work, but in no way do I suggest it for a beginner. The text is written with a tone of sophistication and experience that the beginner will not grasp completely. It is a must to get the basics of Unix down solid before considering this book for administration. The Peachpit Quickstart series has been a great starter for me in many areas and Unix is no different. The book is a superb introduction to Unix...it is TRULY for beginners. Get those basics down and get Unix on your box...then as your second purchase, get the Administrator's Handbook...A first book it IS NOT.
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