Advice to an Aspiring Sysadmin

I get a *lot* of e-mails and YouTube messages asking me how to become a system administrator. Usually I just point people at the blog or YouTube channel, but yesterday I decided to write up something a bit more complete. Here’s a slightly modified version for easy reading.

 

 

Asking Questions, doing Research, and getting Help

This is worth its virtual weight in gold: http://www.catb.org/esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

Subreddits are great. Check out /r/linux, /r/sysadmin, /r/networking, /r/programming, and others. Long story short, find communities that are doing things you’re interested in.

No one will sign up to mentor you, but if you show interest and effort, work on practical projects, and ask well-prepared questions, people will generally treat you well and help you out.

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Cron Jobs

Cron jobs allow you to repeatedly run commands. They can be run both in a timed manner, but also on bootup. While cron may seem a bit confusing in the beginning, it’s actually very simple to use once you know how it works.

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man man – What does the 1 in ls(1) mean?

man pages – many people would have loved to have known earlier about them. This article could be summed up as “just read man-pages(7)”. But what does that mean and why should you care?

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Git: Setting up a low-requirements, personal Git repository

In this tutorial you will learn how to  how to quickly set up a simple, low-requirements, no-database, no-webserver Git repository. All you need is (unprivileged) SSH access and the git program itself.

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The System Administration Course on Udemy is now $12 (from $45)!

It’s been several months since I released my project-based system administration course on Udemy (https://www.udemy.com/hands-on-linux-self-hosted-wordpress-for-linux-beginners/?couponCode=SYSADMINW12).

To celebrate a big move back to the U.S. (and a new job), I just lowered the price from $45 to $25. As always, the tutorialinux sysadmin horde gets a better deal: $12 for all 8 hours of the video course.

For those that don’t know about the course, it’s titled “Hands-on Linux: Self-Hosted WordPress for Linux Beginners” and will teach you the basics of Linux system administration using a real-life project. You’ll set up a WordPress website, and the infrastructure to run further websites (as many as you want).

More info can be found in my original post about the course.

I also show you the sysadmin skills that you generally don’t see in tutorials or YouTube videos: automation, security hardening, backups and restores, next steps and add-on project ideas.

There’s a 30-day money back guarantee on Udemy, so there’s no risk if you find that the course isn’t for you.

Have fun!

https://www.udemy.com/hands-on-linux-self-hosted-wordpress-for-linux-beginners/?couponCode=SYSADMINW12

Shell Aliases

When working on Linux and Unix systems, you’ll often find yourself using long shell commands that you repeat several times per day (or per session). Things like

  • checking on the current resource usage of a system,
  • checking if a process has completed yet, or
  • using a complex group of commands, piped together with special options to give you just the output you want.

Generally, you’ll either use CTRL+R to search for these past commands in the shell’s history. Some of you may even copy useful commands to a special file that you can easily reference. You might even just enter them manually each time you need them, since you’re too lazy to be bothered.

There’s a simple solution that covers all of these cases well: Aliases.

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How to convert an SSH2 Public Key into an OpenSSH public key

When working with people who don’t use a Unix-based operating system, you’ll often come across the SSH2 Public Key format. PuTTY is probably the most famous software using this format and nearly everyone on Windows uses it. To give them access to a system, SFTP server, Git repository or similar you often need to convert an SSH2 public key into the OpenSSH format. This article describes how to do exactly that.

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How to Install Dwarf Fortress on Ubuntu 16.04

Note: If you don’t know what Dwarf Fortress is, you owe it to yourself to learn a bit about it. It’s one of the most interesting and detailed games/simulations/sandboxes ever created.

I just spent a bit of time getting Dwarf Fortress installed on Ubuntu 16.04. I didn’t find much in the way of up-to-date instructions, so I’m writing down what works as of today (June 2016). If you’re wondering how to install Dwarf Fortress on Ubuntu 16.04, here’s what you’ll want to do:

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Support tutorialinux on Patreon!

I’ve been making Linux videos, creating courses, writing e-books, and recording podcasts for over two years now. I really love doing this and seeing the effect it has on peoples’ lives.

I’d like to take things to the next level and spend even more time on creating awesome free content. Several of you have suggested Patreon, so I’ve set up a Patreon page where anyone can contribute and help me make even better content: https://www.patreon.com/tutorialinux

I’ve spent some time coming up with rewards that I think will be fun (Linux and programming books, raspberry pis, etc.), and which will contribute to people learning and experimenting.

The content that will be directly sponsored by your Patreon pledges is stuff like:

  • free project-based courses
  • theory videos
  • articles on this site
  • ‘getting started with’ $SOFTWARE videos
  • book reviews
  • an experimental sysadmin/developer podcast, which I’ve just started recording
  • career advice, Q&As, etc.

 

Check out the Patreon page and let me know what you think!

Thanks for all of your support over the years — you guys all rock!

Physical Servers vs. Cloud Providers

When you’re architecting a solution for some kind of business or infrastructure problem, there are many things to consider: base load, peak load, growth rate, skill levels and specialties of the tech people your client has available to them, and much more. Your solution (whether ‘cloud,’ physical, or both) needs to give the maximum amount of value for the money you’re given to play with.

Let’s take a look at some advantages and disadvantages of both cloud (Amazon AWS EC2) and physical servers.

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