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Automating Unix and Linux Administration (The Expert's Voice)

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Spotlight Customer Reviews

Average Customer Rating: 4

Customer Rating: 4
Summary: Recommended
Comment: This is a good book for everyone that want to go a little bit deeper in the Linux Adminstration. In Linux distributions we often find differents solutions to address the same problem. The book can save hours deciding between using solution A or B. It include and overview of the most often used solutions with the pro and cons in some cases. For example: NFS, AFS, Coda and others.

All the time the author has the security in mind and this is important for people trying to set boxes on the Internet.

If you have a UNIX background that not used for a long time (10 years or so) and you need to go into the Linux server administration. This book certainly will save you a lot of time and will give you the bases to go deeper in the topics that are more important to you.

If the above if not your case, I think the book is still a worth too. I will help to understand the pitfalls in Linux administrations a bit deeper.

At least, but no less important, I found the book easy to read.

Customer Rating: 2
Summary: Average tech book for the Linux crowd - not Unix crowd
Comment: If what you want is a bok that's a cross platform as the title suggests, this might not be a book worth buying. Examples in this book make horrible assumptions, along the lines of removing all native commands and replacing them with GNU commands. In a Linux only environment, this may not be a problem. In many other environments where enterprise level support isn't a concern, this may also be acceptable. But the place where automation is needed the most is the larget enterprise production environments. While ideas and basic tennets outlined in this book are what you ultimately need, the scope of the examples have problems scaling beyond 20-100 systems, let alone 5,000+. As for the basic tennets, you can cheat and be reminded what they are: common configurations, keep good documentation as to the differences, and manage systems, in a secure manner, in a common fashion that relies on the common configuration and documented differences.

The errors and ommissions in this book should be easily caught by any technical senior administrator of the OSes in question. For me, that's Solaris and Linux.

For a Linux only environment, it is a solid book. The writing style is drier than most of the manuals I read from various Unix/Linux vendors, and truly is the first tech publication since I supported PBX systems to put me to sleep.

As for the "subjective" analysis of various tools to assist in automation, I was highly disappointed. On various occasions, only 2 or 3 tools were discussed in an attempt to make the assesments fair. In each case, I came up with twice as many tools that I use on a regular basis, that were also F/OSS (as was usually the criteria the author used to talk about a product) that perform similar, if not identical, tasks much better. And those tools aren't that new: most predate the tools he refers to. Plus, most Linux distributions come with them installed and configured by default!

Since all I got out of the book were the above tennets that I already have known for the past 10+ years, I was VERY disappointed. Just make sure you know who you're letting borrow your copy, and what is expected that they'll take away, otherwise you'll end up with junior admins scripting their way into destroying your enterprise.

Customer Rating: 5
Summary: Automation - the easy way.
Comment: If you are disciple in the church of Wall, or like me you believe that laziness is the father of invention, or if you simply have more than a couple *nix machine to administer, Kirk Bauer's new book Automating Unix and Linux Administration is definitely for you. From the creator of the popular open source projects AutoRpm and LogWatch comes a thorough - and believe it or not entertaining - look at how one can leverage the power of a few common tools to significantly reduce the time and effort system administrators spend doing their jobs.

From the outset Bauer takes a straightforward and principled approach to problem analysis. Usually starting with anecdotal example scenarios (many of which will have you saying "been there before") and progressing through ideals, goals and consequences, he examines many of the common issues facing system administrators with candor and realism. Almost nowhere in the book does the author assume an authoritarian stance, he questions his own decision making process and encourages the reader to come up with exceptions to his rules. Fundamentally Bauer has one goal - to develop a comprehensive system for reliably automating the tedious but important tasks that all system administrators face on a recurring basis.

Admittedly, it would be a fallacy for any book to claim complete and comprehensive coverage of all things related to system administration and Bauer does no such thing. When the author touches on topics that obviously require more depth than a single chapter can afford, he is certain to include at least one reference (and in many instances more) to alternate publications without bias to any particular publisher or author. Having said that, the book's scope and depth of topic coverage is impressive. Starting with an exhaustive examination of SSH and progressing through cfengine, NFS, LDAP, RPM and Tripwire (just to name a few) Bauer provides carefully detailed instruction on how to automate tasks ranging from simple network management and software packaging to security, monitoring and backups. The author even goes so far as to suggest methods for efficiently front-ending automation systems for the less technical of users.

Although not expressly stated in the text, the overall theme of the book is walk on the shoulders of giants. Starting with simple example scripts (in both Bash and Perl) and many single-line commands, Bauer builds on the content of each previous chapter as the book progresses. Examples shown in early chapters are incorporated into more complex systems one step at a time. Following along is easy, each script or command is detailed on a line-by-line basis, and because of Bauer's principle-based approach the reader is rarely left wondering why the author has chosen a particular tool or implementation. More often than not the elegance of how Bauer pieces together methods and procedures will excite you about the possibilities for automation of your own systems.

Although Bauer explicitly states that readers are presumed to have more than a modicum of experience in system administration even the novice administrator, as well as those that are responsible for only a handful of machines, will find this book invaluable. Also included are three appendices which provide an easy introduction to basic shell tools, creating your own RedHat distribution and how to package software as RPM's. These portions of the book alone justify the less than $40 price tag, but for those that run clusters or data centers this book stands to save you countless hours of repetitive headaches. Published by apress and boasting nearly 600 pages this lively read has made itself a permanent addition to at least one reference library.