SysAdmin

Poppins

My friend and fellow Linux Journalian Kris Occhipinti recently posted a reminder on Facebook for everyone to back up regularly in 2016. Although it's something we already should be doing, if you're not a regular backer-upper, you should start today!

Server Hardening

Server hardening. The very words conjure up images of tempering soft steel into an unbreakable blade, or taking soft clay and firing it in a kiln, producing a hardened vessel that will last many years. Indeed, server hardening is very much like that.

Help Me, Uncle Shawn

If you're anything like me, the holiday season is spent fixing Wi-Fi and removing spyware. Occasionally, I get to install Linux for a relative who is ready to give up Windows or needs something that will run on a circa-Windows 2000 computer (Xubuntu is usually my choice).

MySQL—Some Handy Know-How

I recently was talking to someone over IRC who was helping me with a PHP app that was giving me trouble. The extremely helpful individual asked me to let him know the value of a certain field in a record on my MySQL server. I embarrassingly admitted that I'd have to install something like PHPMyAdmin or Adminer in order to find that information.

Build a Large-Screen Command Center with the RPi 2

When the folks who make the Raspberry Pi made good on their plan to release a multi-core version of the tiny computer with 1GB of RAM earlier this year, I saw it as the perfect opportunity to put the single-board Linux box to work—real work—in our company's network operations center.

Vagrant Simplified

I admit it, some tools confuse me. I know they must be amazing, because programs don't get popular by being dumb (well, reality TV, but that's another story). I have the same sort of confusion with Vagrant that I have with Wine, Docker, Chef and countless other amazing tools people constantly rave about. So in this article, I'm going to break down Vagrant into its simplest form.

Secure Server Deployments in Hostile Territory, Part II

In my last article, I started a series on some of the challenges related to spawning secure servers on Amazon EC2. In that column, I discussed some of the overall challenges EC2 presents for security compared to a traditional infrastructure and elaborated on how I configure security groups and manage secrets.

Using Hiera with Puppet

With Hiera, you can externalize your systems' configuration data and easily understand how those values are assigned to your servers. With that data separated from your Puppet code, you then can encrypt sensitive values, such as passwords and keys.

Infinite BusyBox with systemd

Lightweight virtual containers with PID 1. In this article, I demonstrate a method to build one Linux system within another using the latest utilities within the systemd suite of management tools. The guest OS container design focuses upon BusyBox and Dropbear for the userspace system utilities, but I also work through methods for running more general application software so the containers are actually useful.

DevOps: Better Than the Sum of Its Parts

Most of us longtime system administrators get a little nervous when people start talking about DevOps. It's an IT topic surrounded by a lot of mystery and confusion, much like the term "Cloud Computing" was a few years back. Thankfully, DevOps isn't something sysadmins need to fear.

Not So Dynamic Updates

Typically when a network is under my control, I like my servers to have static IPs. Whether the IPs are truly static (hard-coded into network configuration files on the host) or whether I configure a DHCP server to make static assignments, it's far more convenient when you know a server always will have the same IP.

Non-Linux FOSS: MenuMeters

It sounds like a "back in my day" story, but I really do miss the days when laptops had LED activity lights for hard drives and Wi-Fi. Sure, some still have them, but for the most part, the latest trend is to have no way of knowing if your application is pegging the CPU at 100%, or if it just locked up.

High-Availability Storage with HA-LVM

In recent years, there has been a trend in which data centers have been opting for commodity hardware and software over proprietary solutions. Why shouldn't they? It offers extremely low costs and the flexibility to build an ecosystem the way it is preferred. The only limitation is the extent of the administrator's imagination.

DNSMasq, the Pint-Sized Super Dæmon!

I've always been a fan of putting aftermarket firmware on consumer-grade routers. Whether it's DD-WRT, Tomato, OpenWRT or whatever your favorite flavor of "better than stock" firmware might be, it just makes economic sense. Unfortunately, my routing needs have surpassed my trusty Linksys router.

Wondershaper—QOS in a Pinch

In past articles, I've discussed my BirdCam setup and how it automatically archives video footage from my bird feeders to YouTube every night. That's a really cool process, but unfortunately, it saturates my upstream bandwidth in the evening.

Ideal Backups with zbackup

Data is growing both in volume and importance. As time goes on, the amount of data that we need to store is growing, and the data itself is becoming more and more critical for organizations. It is becoming increasingly important to be able to back up and restore this information quickly and reliably. Using cloud-based systems spreads out the data over many servers and locations.