|Teach Yourself Unix System Administration in 24 Hours|
|summary||Teach Yourself Unix System Administration in 24 Hours makes an excellent rosetta stone for beginning or intermediate UNIX sysadmins.|
The Big PictureAs you might get from the title, Sams Publishing's "24 Hours" book series attempts to teach specific tasks or steps within 1 chapter per hour. UNIX can get pretty complex, so it would seem that this format would limit the effectiveness of this book. Not so.
Topics from the book include:
- Unix Installation
- File Ownership
- Disk Usage
- Account Management
- Package Management (including the Fink system for Darwin)
- Process and System Controls
- Network configuration
- Web Server Management and shell scripting
Almost every chapter views how a particular task is handled with Linux as its normal focus, where many commands are shared between Solaris and Mac OS X. When functionality differs, Taylor downshifts to show how matters are handled in each respective operating system. As someone very experienced with Mac OS X, I found Dave Taylor's discussions on Mac OS X idiosyncrasies in contrast to Red Hat and Solaris very useful, particularly where Darwin overrides the traditional dotfile preference configuration, substituting the convoluted NetInfo services.
What to ExpectDave provides a Q & A section after each chapter. In an early chapter, Dave answers a typical geek question, "What Unix distributions do you run on your own systems?" Dave provides a very geeky answer--his Apple PowerBook G4 is running Mac OS X (with Darwin as its core, of course), along with a PC running Windows 2000, Linux Mandrake 8.1, and a web server running Red Hat Linux 7.2--a varied assortment that shows Dave puts the author in authority. In a later chapter, Dave touches on emulators such as WINE and Virtual PC as options for additional operating system support.
What makes the book work is that Dave provides a very conversational tone throughout the book, almost as if you're sitting with him in front of a system, talking while you do your thing. Humorous moments are scattered in appropriate moments to make things less dry (this is UNIX, after all).
Questions that weren't answered for me as a beginning UNIX sysadmin in another book by Dave Taylor, Learning UNIX for Mac OS X , were available in droves in this book. Topics such as scripting with perl or from the shell, disk quotas, crontabs, rlogin, managing system logs, and the like--all answered. Ever wondered how Mac OS X handles system init states? You'll discover that its a tad different from other UNIX systems, but not too much.
The Bad and the UpshotI ran into several layout problems in the book that were somewhat annoying, such as where tables or notes were sliced between pages, making them difficult to read. It wasn't a showstopper at all, but I hope that a later reprint will pass muster.
If you're still getting your feet wet with a few basics, or have a really mixed environment of UNIX flavors, this book may be very useful to you. I'd recommend this book to any Mac OS X technician who wants to take advantage of its UNIX underpinnings. Beginning Linux users should also find this a strong general reference. The book's cost ($25) is very reasonable, even a bargain for a book of this depth. Overall, Teach Yourself Unix System Administration in 24 Hours makes for a very well rounded reference, as well as a tutorial book. Perhaps the title should be shorter--it's quite a tongue twister.
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