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:

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.

Read more

Sysadmin Links: Windows Package Management, SSH Wizardry, and Strategy Games!

Another episode of the “Sysadmin Timewasters” series just went up on YouTube. In this episode, we’re looking at several interesting projects:

0:01 Keep your eyes healthy!

3:01 How to choose a programming language:


Read more

Sysadmin Links, February (jk March) 2016

It’s been a really long time since the last batch of sysadmin links, so it’s time to get started again. Lots of great stuff to share from the last few months.


Sysadmin Links, August 2015

The time has come for another edition of tech-timewasters/sysadmin links. This time, there are a few interesting security articles (including one that will give you an idea of what the malware analysis process looks like).

  1. What is mathematics? (math geekery for amateurs like me):
  2. The postgres guide!  (non-official):
  3. Rowhammer (A nontechnical security article) —
  4. Malware Analysis; a much more technical article on cdorked:
  5. Scaling LinkedIn; a really nice progression (including graphics) showing a few different popular infrastructures for serving web applications:
  6. Yay videogame music (from Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic — I occasionally listen to this while working):


Tech Timewasters, July 2015

The Web is big. The Web has links. Here are your July links:

Have fun!