SysAdmin

Weekend Reading: Sysadmin 101

This series covers sysadmin basics. The first article explains how to approach alerting and on-call rotations as a sysadmin. In the second article, I discuss how to automate yourself out of a job, and in the third, I explain why and how you should use tickets. The fourth article covers some of the fundamentals of patch management under Linux, and the fifth and final article describes the overall sysadmin career path and the attributes that might make you a "senior sysadmin" instead of a "sysadmin" or "junior sysadmin", along with some tips on how to level up.

Travel Laptop Tips in Practice

It's one thing to give travel advice; it's another to follow it. In past articles, I've written about how to prepare for a vacation or other travel when you're on call. And, I just got back from a vacation where I put some of those ideas into practice, so I thought I'd write a follow-up and give some specifics on what I recommended, what I actually did and how it all worked.

Schedule One-Time Commands with the UNIX at Tool

Cron is nice and all, but don't forget about its cousin at. When I first started using Linux, it was like being tossed into the deep end of the UNIX pool. You were expected to use the command line heavily along with all the standard utilities and services that came with your distribution. At lot has changed since then, and nowadays, you can use a standard Linux desktop without ever having to open a terminal or use old UNIX services. Even as a sysadmin, these days, you often are a few layers of abstraction above some of these core services.

Why Your Server Monitoring (Still) Sucks

Five observations about why your server monitoring still stinks by a monitoring specialist-turned-consultant. Early in my career, I was responsible for managing a large fleet of printers across a large campus. We're talking several hundred networked printers. It often required a 10- or 15-minute walk to get to some of those printers physically, and many were used only sporadically. I didn't always know what was happening until I arrived, so it was anyone's guess as to the problem. Simple paper jam? Driver issue? Printer currently on fire? I found out only after the long walk. Making this even more frustrating for everyone was that, thanks to the infrequent use of some of them, a printer with a problem might go unnoticed for weeks, making itself known only when someone tried to print with it.

What's Your System's Uptime?

Keep track of your system's uptime and downtime with the tuptime tool. Finding your system's uptime is easy if the "beginning" means the last startup; the historical uptime command reports that information. But what happens if by "beginning" you mean the first startup ever of the system? Or the last 365 days? Or the last month?

Pulseway: Systems Management at Your Fingertips

In today's IT world, staying on top of anything and everything related to the most mission-critical applications or machines is increasingly important. With this need in mind, Pulseway provides a product of the same name built to give IT personnel the ability to monitor, manage and automate these very systems and the tasks or applications that they host. Managing an entire computing ecosystem (consisting of both physical and virtual machines) never should be too difficult a task, and Pulseway has proven that to be the case.

Rapid, Secure Patching: Tools and Methods

Generate enterprise-grade SSH keys and load them into an agent for control of all kinds of Linux hosts. Script the agent with the Parallel Distributed Shell (pdsh) to effect rapid changes over your server farm.

Ansible: the Automation Framework That Thinks Like a Sysadmin

I've written about and trained folks on various DevOps tools through the years, and although they're awesome, it's obvious that most of them are designed from the mind of a developer. There's nothing wrong with that, because approaching configuration management programmatically is the whole point.

Sysadmin 101: Patch Management

A few articles ago, I started a Sysadmin 101 series to pass down some fundamental knowledge about systems administration that the current generation of junior sysadmins, DevOps engineers or "full stack" developers might not learn otherwise. I had thought that I was done with the series, but then the WannaCry malware came out and exposed some of the poor patch management practices still

Testing the Waters: How to Perform Internal Phishing Campaigns

Phishing is one of the most dangerous threats to modern computing. Phishing attacks have evolved from sloppily written mass email blasts to targeted attacks designed to fool even the most cautious users. No defense is bulletproof, and most experts agree education and common sense are the best tools to combat the problem.