|Automating Unix and Linux Administration|
|summary||Tools and methods for automating *nix administration for a couple (or a few thousand) computers.|
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 RPMs. These portions of the book alone justify the less than $40 price tag, but for those who 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.
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