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Unix System Administration  «Prev  Next»
Lesson 1

Introduction to UNIX System Administration

This module will introduce you to some of the basics you will need to begin your exploration of UNIX system administration.
When you complete this module, you will:
  1. Understand the origin of the different types of UNIX operating systems
  2. Know what the root account is and how to use it safely
  3. Know how to access, update, and configure the UNIX manual pages online
Systems administration is the 1) installation and 2) maintenance of the UNIX computer system. The system administrator will need to maintain the software and hardware for the system which includes hardware configuration, software installation, reconfiguration of the kernel, and networking to keep it running in a satisfactory manner. To do this the system administrator can assume superuser or root privileges to perform many tasks not normally available to the average user of the system.


System Administration is
  1. planning,
  2. installing, and
  3. maintaining computer systems.
In this module we'll describe what is expected from a System Administrator, and how one might approach their responsibilities.
Being an expert on installing, running, and maintaining all of the major UNIX variants isn't enough to be a truly good system administrator. There is a significant nontechnical component to being a system administrator, especially in terms of planning, organizational, and people skills.
As computers become more and more pervasive in business, system administration becomes a mission critical position in more and more organizations.
The administrator has to understand the systems that he is responsible for, the people who use them, and the nature of the business that they are used for.
A key skill in administration is planning, because at the rate that systems are being created, overhauled, and expanded, trying to improvise and design a network "on the fly" just doesn't work.
Companies are moving more and more processes not just to computers, but to point of sale systems, such as Web commerce and sophisticated in-store systems, such as electronic catalogs and cash registers that are directly connected to both inventory and credit systems.
Companies that may have moved their inventory control to computers five years ago are scrambling to get order entry computerized and on the Web, while companies that haven't automated their inventory and ordering systems yet are scrambling to do so in order to remain competitive.
E-mail is now regarded as just as important as faxes and telephones, while every part of customer service that can be manned by a computer and fax retrieval system already is.
This module also covers a few key system administration tools that are already found with most UNIX variants or are included on the UNIX Unleashed CD that accompanied this book.