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Old 11-12-2015, 07:03 AM   #1
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How to be a System Admin?

Hello thanks if you're taking the time to read this, i would like to become a system adminstator. I want to learn debian first then once i understand how the basic os works i would like to move on to arch then gentoo to get a better understanding. I'm aways from there but i would just like to know what are some important sys admin tasks that i should know about? I know some important commands like ipconfig,netstat,nslookup,top,ping,smtp. I think these commands are basicly for configuring and trouble shooting the network and devices. So ill start learning these first but what i would just like to know is do sys admin daily tasks go deeper than this? If so what other stuff do they do? Thank you!
Old 11-12-2015, 08:48 AM   #2
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"System Admin" is different at every job. While it almost always includes basic operating system the details of what you do beyond that varies wildly.

In my first "System Admin" job (which didn't have that title by the way) I managed the UNIX OSes, The Databases on top of them, the printing, the modems and serial terminal connections as well as the hardware.

At the next "System Admin" job (which also didn't have that title) I managed the HP-UX and later Solaris OSes but we had a separate team administering the databases (Sybase then Oracle) except I also managed our Foundation CASE tool and its Informix database. I also managed disk layouts on our first RAID arrays as well as our backup tools (First EMC Epoch then Veritas NetBackup.) We also had Linux desktops for our team that we self administered.

In my next "System Admin" job (which actually had a title indicating this was my main job) I managed Solaris OS and Sun Disk Arrays but did not manage the database or the backup solution.

In the next "System Admin" job I managed mostly HP-UX OS and a little Solaris as well as early RHEL systems for application tiers. In this job I did not manage either the storage arrays or the backups.

In my current job I initially administered mostly HP-UX with a smattering of Solaris, RedHat (NOT RHEL) and FreeBSD systems. Now we're mostly on RHEL. We administer both the storage array and the Veritas NetBackup as well as VMWare running Windows Guests but another team administers Windows itself as well as MS Hyper-V on which our Linux guests live (go figure). We also administer things like DNS whereas in most organizations I've been in previously that was done by a network team.

From my reading and discussions over the years I gather many "System Admins" are directly responsible for and spend a lot of time administering web services. While we administer the OS of our web servers because it is RHEL and was formerly HP-UX we do not actually administer the Apache or Jboss configurations here.

So the answer is to certainly learn the base OS you intend to work in. Focus on things like configuring storage at host level as you'll likely do that regardless of whether it is just internal storage or external arrays either managed by another team or by you. Learn things such as performance tuning tools as they'll help you regardless of what is sitting on the OS. But essentially what you should do is learn what the organization you're intending to work at does. If you know Arch Linux backwards and Forwards it may help in an interview at a shop that does only Suse but a Suse expert will have a leg up.

I'd suggest installing CentOS and/or Fedora and learning those intimately if you plan to make a career as these are "RedHat" style distros. CentOS is a binary compile of the RHEL source and Fedora is a bleeding edge distro that is used to vet things that end up in RHEL eventually. RHEL is a "commercial" Linux and many companies use it because of stability. That doesn't mean there aren't those using other commercial variants or even non-commercial variants in their businesses - it just mean it is the most common one.

System Administration was a role I grew into not one I was hired for directly. Getting a job where you know they use the OS (and you can get access to it at admin level) is a good way to gain marketable skills.
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Old 11-12-2015, 09:58 AM   #3
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Wow awesome invaluable knowledge from an expert i didn't expect that! Thanks a million this will definitely change on how i'll go about things. I liked the sound of Debian because NASA uses it and cause it based on Kali, so it intrigued me... Nevertheless i cant thank you enough i will intensely review the systems and OS's you mentioned to get a better understanding on what company uses what, and ill go from there... Thanks again!!
Old 11-12-2015, 05:48 PM   #4
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You should definitely bookmark this and have a look, especially the SysAdmin pages (see menu on LHS)

Try to learn one thing at a time (unless you've already got the job ), otherwise it gets overwhelming as hinted by MensaWater's extensive post.
Setting up VM's that you can break/fix/destroy & re-create is a good way to go.
Old 11-12-2015, 06:02 PM   #5
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