New Books Added to the Sysadmin Reading List!

I’ve just added some more amazing books to the sysadmin reading list page. These are books that I’ve read over the last year which are so spectacular that I think every sysadmin (or aspiring sysadmin) needs to read and digest them.

Some standouts from the list above:

The Linux Command Line: A Complete Introduction

I watched a project manager with no hands-on technical experience go through this book. After about a week, he was comfortable moving around on the command line, (git) pulling down the latest version of the code that his team was working on, running shell scripts, and doing other basic Linux/Unix tasks. I think it’s fair to say that this book put him on track for becoming a savage beast (for a PM).

 

The Practice of Cloud System Administration: DevOps and SRE Practices for Web Services, Volume 2

This is one of the greatest system administration / infrastructure / DevOps / System Reliability Engineering (SRE) / Platform Engineering books I’ve ever read.

Do you remember how the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, 4th Edition taught you how Unix and Linux work in a deep and practical way, and how it showed you what it takes to administrate a single server or a small group of servers?

That’s what this book does, except for modern large-scale infrastructure (hundreds/thousands of servers). It will show you how to design infrastructure properly. It will teach you how to think about reliability. It will show you how to take (most of) the pain out of monitoring and alerting.

I can’t say enough good things about it. Seriously, if you want to be a Google/Amazon/<insert-enormous-tech-company-here>-level Admin, this book will introduce you to the skills you need.

Buy it, now!

 

 

Okay, I’m ending this post here because I need to get to work — a place where I will undoubtedly use the skills you can learn from these books.

So read these books, and then get out there and start doing this stuff!

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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How to Choose a Career in IT

Most aspiring tech people make a critical mistake when evaluating ideas for a career. They approach the problem from a 30,000-foot view, saying to themselves, “I might like a career in finance.” Then, they try to work out a more detailed niche, before making plans for getting there. This can work sometimes, but if you find yourself getting stuck in this high-level thinking, perhaps a more practical approach is right for you.

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How to Get Into a Programming Career

I was just talking to a friend about programming. She’s interested for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that she’s read all about how ‘programming is the future’ and that tech people make tons of money.

We talked about some things that I thought would be useful to share more openly — so here it is: my advice for getting into programming, System Administration, or any other technology path.

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The Education of a System Administrator

Here’s something that surprises many people: I actually don’t have a college degree. Before I got into System Administration, I did all kinds of things: I’ve been a soldier, carpet salesman, martial arts teacher, Chinese massage (Tui Na) practitioner, data entry temp, bakery worker, and a few other things.

On the surface, these don’t look like they are related to System Administration, but each of these other attempts at ‘finding the right career’ taught me something valuable that I still use today in System Administration and Development work.

For example, all that ‘unrelated‘ experience has taught me how to

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Where to Find Remote Programming Work

I remember sitting at a system engineering gig a few years ago, fighting an angry LDAP server and talking about my goal of sitting on a beach and doing sysadmin and programming work from my laptop. My manager, a smart and practical fellow, laughed and told me it was a pipe dream and that such work simply didn’t exist. Two years later, I can work from the beach every day, if I feel like it.

Everyone loves remote work — whether it’s system administration, database administration, testing, QA, remote programming work, or something totally different. As with anything else, there are some downsides, but the advantages to both companies and employees are huge. Lower office costs for companies, fewer interruptions for employees; the list goes on and on. It’s still early in the ‘remote work’ timeline, and some businesses still need to get used to the idea. If you’re interested in an exhaustive pro-and-con list in book format, check out Remote: Office Not Required.

Here are a few of the sites I’ve used to search for (and get) both full-time and contracting work:

 

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