1.3. This Book Will Show You How
In the 1966-68 "Batman" television show, the dynamic duo
wore utility belts. If Batman and Robin had to scale a building,
Batman would say, "Quick Robin, the Bat Grappling Hook! "
Or Batman would say, "Quick Robin, the Bat Knockout Gas!"
and they'd both have the right tool at hand to subdue the bad
guys. This book aims to give you the utility belt you need to do good
system administration work.
Every chapter attempts to provide you with three things.
Clear and concise information about a system administration domain.
In each chapter we discuss in depth one domain of the system
administration world. The number of possible domains in multiplatform
system administration is huge, far too many to be included in a
single book. The best survey books on just Unix system
administration, Essential System Administration,
by Æleen Frisch (O'Reilly & Associates),
and Unix System Administration Handbook, by
Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, and Trent R. Hein (Prentice-Hall), are two
and three times, respectively, the size of this book. We'll be
looking at topics from three different operating systems: Unix,
Windows NT, Windows 2000, and MacOS.
As a result, some hard choices were made on what to include and what
to exclude. In general the topics that I believe will become even
more important over the next five years made the cut. Important
technologies like XML are explored because they are likely to have a
significant impact on the field as time goes by. Unfortunately, these
guidelines meant that some system administration stalwarts like
backup and printing are edged out by newer topics like LDAP and SNMP.
The skills and tools provided by this book can help with the domains
I omit, but a direct treatment will have to be found elsewhere.
I've tried to put together a good stew of system and network
administration information for people with varying levels of
experience in the field. Seasoned veterans and new recruits may come
away from this book having learned completely different material, but
everyone should find something of interest to chew on. Each chapter
ends with a list of references which can help you get deeper into a
topic should you so choose.
For each domain or topic, especially the ones that have a
considerable learning curve, I include appendixes with all of the
information you need to come up to speed quickly. Even if
you're familiar with a topic, you may find these appendixes can
round out your knowledge about that matter (e.g., how something is
implemented on a different operating system).
Perl techniques and approaches that can be used in system administration.
To get the most out of this book, you'll need some initial Perl
background. Every chapter is full of Perl code that ranges in
complexity from beginner to advanced levels of Perl knowledge.
Whenever we encounter an intermediate-to-advanced technique, data
structure, or idiom, I'll take the time to carefully step us
through it, piece by piece. In the process, you should be able to
pick up some interesting Perl techniques to add to your programming
repertoire. The hope is that Perl programmers of all levels will be
able to find something to learn from the examples presented in this
book. And as your Perl skills improve over time, you should be able
to come back to this book, learning new things each time.
To further enhance this learning experience, I will often present
more than one way to accomplish the same task using Perl rather than
showing a single limited answer. Remember the Perl motto,
"There's More Than One Way To Do It." These
multiple-approach examples are designed to better equip your Perl
utility belt: the more tools you have at hand, the better the choices
you can make when approaching a new task.
Sometimes it will be obvious that one technique is superior to the
others. But this book only addresses a certain subset of situations
you may find yourself in, and a solution that is woefully crude for
one problem may be just the ticket for another. So bear with me. For
each example I'll try to show you both the advantages and
drawbacks of each approach (and often tell you which method I
System administration best practices and deep principles.
As I mentioned at the start of this chapter, there are better and
worse ways to do system administration. I've been a system and
network administrator for the last 15 years in some pretty demanding
multiplatform environments. In each chapter I try to bring this
experience to bear as I offer you some of the best practices
I've learned and the deeper principles behind them.
Occasionally I'll use a personal "war story from the
front lines" as the starting point for these discussions.
Hopefully the depth of the craft in system administration will become
apparent as you read along.
Copyright © 2001 O'Reilly & Associates. All rights reserved.