Cover image for Linux administration handbook
Linux administration handbook
Nemeth, Evi.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Upper Saddle River, NJ : Prentice Hall, [2002]

Physical Description:
xxi, 890 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Title Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QA76.76.O63 N453 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Intended for courses in Linux system administration. this is guide specifically focused on preparing students to administer large-scale enterprise systems. It covers various key aspects of running systems utilizing Linux distributions for university and enterprise environments: RedHat, Debian, and SuSe.

Author Notes

Evi Nemeth has retired from the computer science faculty at the University of Colorado but still dabbles in network research at CAIDA, the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis at the San Diego Supercomputer Center. She is currently exploring the Caribbean on her new toy, a 40-foot sailboat named Wonderland.

Garth Snyder has worked at NeXT and Sun and holds a degree in Electrical Engineering from Swarthmore College. He is currently an MD/MBA candidate at the University of Rochester.

Trent R. Hein is the co-founder of Applied Trust Engineering, a company which provides network infrastructure security and performance consulting services. Trent holds a BS in Computer Science from the University of Colorado.



When we wrote the first edition of this book (about five years ago), Linux was just beginning to prove itself in the corporate world. We hoped that Linux Administration Handbook would help spread the news that Linux was a first-tier operating system capable of matching off against offerings from Sun, HP, and IBM. Now Linux is IBM. For anyone awaiting an unambiguous signal that the Linux waters were safe for corporate swimmers, IBM's 2004 announcement of Linux support across its entire server line must have been quite comforting. No one was ever fired for buying IBM; these days, Linux in general is an equally safe proposition.1 We set out to write a book that would be the professional Linux system administrator's best friend. Where appropriate, we've adapted the proven concepts and materials from our popular book, UNIX System Administration Handbook. We've added a truckload of Linux-specific material and updated the rest, but much of the coverage remains similar. We hope you agree that the result is a high-quality guide to Linux administration that benefits from its experience in a past life. None of the other books on Linux system administration supply the breadth and depth of material necessary to effectively use Linux in real-world business environments. Here are the features that distinguish our book: We take a practical approach. Our purpose is not to restate the contents of your manuals but rather to summarize our collective experience in system administration. This book contains numerous war stories and a wealth of pragmatic advice. This is not a book about how to run Linux at home, in your garage, or on your PDA. We describe the use of Linux in production environments such as businesses, government offices, and universities. We cover Linux networking in detail. It is the most difficult aspect of system administration and the area in which we think we can be of most help. We do not oversimplify the material. Our examples reflect true-life situations with all their warts and unsightly complications. In most cases, the examples have been taken directly from production systems. We cover five major Linux distributions. Our Example Distributions Like so many operating systems, Linux has grown and branched in several different directions. Although development of the kernel has remained surprisingly centralized, packaging and distribution of complete Linux operating systems is overseen by a variety of groups, each with its own agenda.We cover five Linux distributions in detail: Red Hat ® Enterprise Linux ® 4.3 ES Fedora TM Core 5 SUSE ® Linux Enterprise 10.2 Debian ® GNU/Linux 3.2 "Etch" (testing release of 9/06) Ubuntu ® 6.06 "Dapper Drake" We chose these distributions because they are among the most popular and because they represent the Linux community as a whole. However, much of the material in this book applies to other mainstream distributions as well. We provide detailed information about each of these example distributions for every topic that we discuss. Comments specific to a particular operating system are marked with the distribution's logo. The Organization of This Book This book is divided into three large chunks: Basic Administration, Networking, and Bunch o' Stuff. Basic Administration presents a broad overview of Linux from a system administrator's perspective. The chapters in this section cover most of the facts and techniques needed to run a stand-alone Linux system. The Networking section describes the protocols used on Linux systems and the techniques used to set up, extend, and maintain networks. High-level network software is also covered here. Among the featured topics are the Domain Name System, the Network File System, routing, sendmail , and network management. Bunch o' Stuff includes a variety of supplemental information. Some chapters discuss optional software packages such as the Linux printing system. Others give advice on topics ranging from hardware maintenance to the politics of running a Linux installation. Each chapter is followed by a set of practice exercises. Items are marked with our estimate of the effort required to complete them, where "effort" is an indicator of both the difficulty of the task and the time required.There are four levels: no stars-- Easy, should be straightforward one star-- Harder or longer, may require lab work two stars-- Hardest or longest, requires lab work and digging three stars-- Semester-long projects (only in a few chapters) Some of the exercises require root or sudo access to the system; others require the permission of the local sysadmin group. Both requirements are mentioned in the text of the exercise. Our Contributors We're delighted that Adam Boggs, Bryan Buus, and Ned McClain were able to join us once again as contributing authors. With this edition, we also welcome Ben Whaley, Tobi Oetiker, Fritz Zaucker, Jeffrey S. Haemer, David Schweikert, and Scott Seidel as contributors and friends. Their deep knowledge of a variety of areas has greatly enriched the content of this book. Above all, we thank and acknowledge Lynda McGinley, who in addition to taking ownership of a substantial amount of text also worked tirelessly to organize and facilitate our contributors' work. Contact Information Please send suggestions, comments, and bug reports to . We answer most mail, but please be patient; it is sometimes a few days before one of us is able to respond. Because of the volume of email that this alias receives, we regret that we are unable to answer technical questions. To get a copy of our current bug list and other late-breaking information, visit our web site, . We hope you enjoy this book, and we wish you the best of luck with your adventures in system administration! Evi Nemeth Garth Snyder Trent R. Hein October 2006 Note 1. At least on servers. Today's battleground is the desktop, a domain over which Microsoft Windows still maintains a near-lock. The outcome of that struggle remains difficult to predict. As of this writing, Windows still provides a more polished user interface. But it's hard to argue with "free." Excerpted from Linux Administration Handbook by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Trent R. Hein All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the First Editionp. xxxiii
Prefacep. xxxiv
Acknowledgmentsp. xxxvii
Section 1 Basic Administrationp. 1
Chapter 1 Where to Startp. 3
Suggested backgroundp. 4
Linux's relationship to UNIXp. 4
Linux in historical contextp. 5
Linux distributionsp. 6
Notation and typographical conventionsp. 9
Where to go for informationp. 11
How to find and install softwarep. 14
Essential tasks of the system administratorp. 16
System administration under duressp. 18
Recommended readingp. 19
Exercisesp. 20
Chapter 2 Booting and Shutting Downp. 21
Bootstrappingp. 21
Booting PCsp. 25
Using boot loaders: LILO and GRUBp. 26
Booting single-user modep. 31
Working with startup scriptsp. 32
Rebooting and shutting downp. 40
Exercisesp. 43
Chapter 3 Rootly Powersp. 44
Ownership of files and processesp. 44
The superuserp. 46
Choosing a root passwordp. 47
Becoming rootp. 48
Other pseudo-usersp. 51
Exercisesp. 52
Chapter 4 Controlling Processesp. 53
Components of a processp. 53
The life cycle of a processp. 56
Signalsp. 57
Kill and killall: send signalsp. 60
Process statesp. 60
Nice and renice: influence scheduling priorityp. 61
ps: monitor processesp. 62
Top: monitor processes even betterp. 65
The /proc filesystemp. 65
Strace: trace signals and system callsp. 66
Runaway processesp. 67
Recommended readingp. 69
Exercisesp. 69
Chapter 5 The Filesystemp. 70
Pathnamesp. 72
Filesystem mounting and unmountingp. 73
The organization of the file treep. 75
File typesp. 76
File attributesp. 81
Access control listsp. 88
Exercisesp. 92
Chapter 6 Adding New Usersp. 93
The /etc/passwd filep. 93
The /etc/shadow filep. 99
The /etc/group filep. 101
Adding usersp. 102
Removing usersp. 107
Disabling loginsp. 108
Managing accountsp. 108
Exercisesp. 110
Chapter 7 Adding a Diskp. 111
Disk interfacesp. 111
Disk geometryp. 119
Linux filesystemsp. 120
An overview of the disk installation procedurep. 122
hdparm: set IDE interface parametersp. 129
fsck: check and repair filesystemsp. 131
Adding a disk: a step-by-step guidep. 133
Advanced disk management: RAID and LVMp. 138
Mounting USB drivesp. 147
Exercisesp. 148
Chapter 8 Periodic Processesp. 150
Cron: schedule commandsp. 150
The format of crontab filesp. 151
Crontab managementp. 153
Some common uses for cronp. 154
Other schedulers: anacron and fcronp. 156
Exercisesp. 157
Chapter 9 Backupsp. 158
Motherhood and apple piep. 159
Backup devices and mediap. 163
Setting up an incremental backup regime with dumpp. 169
Restoring from dumps with restorep. 173
Dumping and restoring for upgradesp. 176
Using other archiving programsp. 177
Using multiple files on a single tapep. 178
Baculap. 179
Commercial backup productsp. 197
Recommended readingp. 198
Exercisesp. 198
Chapter 10 Syslog and Log Filesp. 201
Logging policiesp. 201
Linux log filesp. 204
Logrotate: manage log filesp. 208
Syslog: the system event loggerp. 209
Condensing log files to useful informationp. 220
Exercisesp. 222
Chapter 11 Software and Configuration Managementp. 223
Basic Linux installationp. 223
Diskless clientsp. 232
Package managementp. 234
High-level package management systemsp. 237
Revision controlp. 247
Localization and configurationp. 255
Configuration management toolsp. 260
Sharing software over NFSp. 263
Recommended softwarep. 266
Recommended readingp. 268
Exercisesp. 268
Section 2 Networkingp. 269
Chapter 12 TCP/IP Networkingp. 271
TCP/IP and the Internetp. 272
Networking road mapp. 275
Packets and encapsulationp. 276
IP addresses: the gory detailsp. 282
Routingp. 293
ARP: the address resolution protocolp. 296
Addition of a machine to a networkp. 297