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Top tools for junior Linux admins

oxtan

Give them a copy of http://www.amazon.com/UNIX-Linux-System-Administration-Handbook/dp/0131480057 to get them acquainted with the OS and of http://www.amazon.com/Practice-System-Network-Administration-Second/dp/0321492668 to undestand what being a sysadmin is (this latest book is platform independent, I wish more Windows admins read it).

As a comment to your article http://www.theregister.co.uk/2013/02/21/linux_isnt_that_hard_really/ stop cloning linux vm's. Learn how to use kickstart for redhat distributions, mirror internally the OS repositories (mrepo https://github.com/dagwieers/mrepo is quite easy to setup) and spinning a new vm will take you 3 minutes with the latest updates. Yes, really.

Your rants on the ifcfg-xxxx files for configuring nics on redhat based distributions are quiet funny. You try shoehorning your windows admin practices on other types of systems and you run into problems. Stop doing that! Kickstarting the OS with a clean, unattended installation will solve all your problems about that particular point. It really is a non issue for most people except the ones cloning vms.

The network config files of redhat are very easy, are very well documented (https://access.redhat.com/knowledge/docs/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/6/html/Deployment_Guide/ch-Network_Interfaces.html). The documentation for redhat systems is simply excellent: https://access.redhat.com/knowledge/docs/en-US/Red_Hat_Enterprise_Linux/6/ , as a linux admin using redhat based distros get familiar with it. Stop using forums to find your answers and start reading the fine manuals, they are there for a reason.

Learn how to use the vi editor. Yes, you have to. No, this is not optional. Sooner or later you will need to do something on a system with that one as only editor available, so you might as well just get used to it. You do not need to be a vi guru, just be able to edit a file.

Learn how to write your own shell scripts. Read other people's scripts. Understand them.

Learn a high level scripting language. Lots of admins know Perl, Python is fine as well.

Learn how to troubleshoot your system. Where are the log files, how to bump up debugging for the various subsystems, how to turn services on and off, how to find info on those services and subsystems without an internet connection (yes, it happens that you are cut off the net and you have a problem).

If you have to work with readhat distros, learn to like selinux. It is your friend and might save your ass on those internet facing servers when they get owned by a faulty web app deployed by hit and run ruby on rails developers (or php, or python or ....)

Once your really understand how a linux computer works, then you can start scaling out with cfengine/puppet/chef/ansible, whatever.

All the above things will make your junior admins better Windows admins as well. They will understand how protocols work and they will concentrate on finding the solutions to their problems instead of just clicking around without really knowing what they are doing in their shiny tools.

If your junior admins are not willing to do this, they should be forced by management. If they still do refuse to do it, get new juniors admins. If the company wants to run linux servers, admins need to support it. It is that simple.

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