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ddaas 12-21-2004 05:32 AM

my first job as a network administrator - need advices
This is my first job as a network/system administrator in an real environment.

The actual Admin has just given me the root password and explained me about the network infrastructure. He will quit soon.

Please, give me some tips ! Where do I start from? What must be my first steps? What are most important first things I must do as the new admin? What are the most important things that I have to have clear in my mind ?

I have the opportunity to study the network and the servers for a few days and then we (I and the admin) meet again to clarify what I didn't get clear in my mind. I after that I am on my own. I don't want to miss something and to get later into troubles. Every important aspect must be clear after we meet again.

I can't say that I am new to linux, but I've just used it at Home for my personal needs not as job in a read company. I have good knowledge about networking and OS (linux), but not so much experience.

Some tips about the network (mixed environment):

- 50-60 computers (winxp sp2)
- RedHat Enterprise server: samba domain, sendmail, dhcp, BIND, squid, apache + php + mysql, Antivirus, anti-spam, amanda, etc

Thank you in advance,


Cisco Wireless Lan Support Engineer

XavierP 12-21-2004 11:27 AM

If you have never done this singlehandedly, why are you being given the job now? Do you have Linux Network Admin experience?

ddaas 12-21-2004 01:20 PM

The company where I work had an external admin. I work as a programmer but from now on I'll intend to take place of the actual admin.


eranb2 12-21-2004 01:55 PM

everything you see ot hear WRITE DOWN ON A PAPER.
everything you will do write down as well.
go to , search for linux and buy the books that only get 4 or 5 stars in amazon.

go to

good luck

Homer Glemkin 12-21-2004 02:45 PM

I had the same situation happen to me 3 months ago. All I can say is read up as much as you can. And work with the a server in a test enviroment so you can figure everything out. If you can get good at setting up a network with 2 pcs, you can do it with 50.
Good luck,

bdowns 12-21-2004 02:54 PM

First thing I would do is read through one of those books you are going to get and change the root password. Also do a check through the /etc/passwd file and see if there are any user accounts with a 0 right after the :x: or :*: fields. Then I would start doing all of the nitty gritty reading. But then again, I am a newbie.

mpn 12-21-2004 02:55 PM

You might want to consider getting a small audio recorder to record the conversations between you and the admin. This is only necessary if writing it down is insufficient, though.

linus24 12-21-2004 04:13 PM

I think you should ask for a raise.

Break stuff and watch him fix it.


cidrolin 12-22-2004 05:40 AM

the first golden rule is :

if it's not broken, don't fix it !

It might help you for the first few days... ;)

More seriously, if your background is development, you must be prepared to find that the source of your troubles will usually *not* be technical, thus technical responses are only workarounds... The solutions are human. Always. Well, almost always...

fotoguy 12-22-2004 06:48 AM

I am not an Admin, only studying for that sort of position in the future. But some advice I can give is, lots of paperwork, if your a programmer you should be quite familiar with paperwork. Document everything that happens, and everything that is requested to you by others, that way, if trouble arises someone else higher up had to OK'd it first, may just save your skin. Have an Acceptable Use Policy for the internet/network enforced and signed by everyone in the company if one isn't in place already, workers need to know what they can and cannot do on the network.

ddaas 12-22-2004 07:00 AM

thanks a lot.
All these advices will help me.


cormander 12-23-2004 11:33 PM

Being a System Administrator myself, this is my advice to you:

Security, security, security!! The last thing you ever want is to tell your boss that a cracker did this or that. It's your job to keep everything as up to date as possible, and do your best to try to break into your own network, so you can figure out how you can monitor / prevent it from happening.

Another bit of advice... "measure twice, cut once". In the computer world, test it before you do it live. Get a machine and set it up like another one that is on the network, and install stuff, uinstall stuff, duplicate problems, anything you can do. Format it, install windows, reformat it, install Linux, format it again and do a dual boot. If you ever need to do something on someone's computer, you have a place to do it first and will know with a lot more certanty that it will work when you do it on their machine. People get really grumpy when "the big tech guy" comes in and messes everything up.

And, if you have the authority, make very strict policies on what people can have on their computers. The last thing you want is Kazaa or other P2P software causing network lag, spyware infestation, and employees spending more time looking at porn then doing their job.


bdowns 12-24-2004 05:45 AM

I totally agree with cormander. I do most of the things he mentioned. But depending on the network enviroment you have, take full advantage of it. I hate windows more than anything but I work for a company that developes software for it and the support people need it loaded on thier machines. It was written horribly so all pc's with it installed need local admin writes to run it. I have a win2k3 server domain and the workstations that don't need local admin writes get locked down with GPO. They can't install anything, not even winzip. Point it, use everything to your advantage to tighten things up. I wish I was able to run a pure Linux and Unix enviroment but I can't, so I take advantage of some of the minor benefits of other O.S.'s.

ddaas 12-24-2004 06:27 AM

I'll try to implement what you've said.

Merry Christmas,


Kahless 12-24-2004 02:11 PM

I dont know if your used to using the CLI or GUI, but get very comfortable with CLI. although GUI stuff has come a very long way, CLI tools are still more mature, and less likey to muck up. Also, if you can do it via cli, you can do it from any computer that can route to your network.

Its always a good idea to save a backup copy of any config files you are going to modify on the server as whatever.old or somthing like that, so if you make a mistake you can dump the old, working config in until you have time to read threw and find your error.

Good luck, have fun, and stay out of trouble :)

Final thought: Backups!

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