Book Cover - Book Review: The Practice of System and Network Administration: Volume 1

Everything missing from other technical system administration books

When searching for a system administration book, there is a strong likelihood of finding this book and the other classic UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook. Both books couldn’t be more different.

UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook is a highly technical, practical book to keep on your desk, with full of details about the Linux operating system – the GRUB, main commands, shell programming, the directory structure, network protocols, and so much more. The Practice of System and Network Administration condenses decades of experience, capturing the essence of the job, addressing subjects like onboarding, server fleet management, resiliency architecture, ticket management, change process strategies, ethics, soft skills, and so much more that you could imagine. In short, both books are complementary and are indispensable readings, but be prepared as each of them exceeds one thousand pages. The good news is that you can start with any of them.

What I like the most about The Practice of System and Network Administration is the numerous anecdotes shared by authors. I really like the great diversity of subjects covered, and since the book is remarkably written, I even enjoyed less pertinent chapters concerning me. The chapters about storage or networking are among the best introduction I’ve read so far, but I assume most readers will already be familiar with these subjects and will not learn a lot on the technical side.

There is also a companion book, The Practice of Cloud System Administration, Volume 2, from the same authors. This volume is shorter (only 400 pages long) and is strongly recommended as it discusses a lot of modern topics around deploying systems in a cloud environment. The first volume leans on the Ops side, while this second one leans on the Dev side. This means that if you come with a developer background, most of the content of the second volume will seem familiar, and inversely. Overall, both books represents a ton of pages to turn, and a ton of insights to be gained!

About the author

Julien Sobczak works as a software developer for Scaleway, a French cloud provider. He is a passionate reader who likes to see the world differently to measure the extent of his ignorance. His main areas of interest are productivity (doing less and better), human potential, and everything that contributes in being a better person (including a better dad and a better developer).

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