Skip to main content

Musings on System Administration

I was reading an article discussing forensic preparation for computer systems. Some of the
stuff in there I knew the general theory of, but not the specifics of how to perform. As I
thought about it, it occurred to me that Systems Administration is such a vast field. There
is no way I can know all of this stuff. I made a list of the software and operating systems

I currently manage. They include:
- Windows Server 2003, Standard and Enterprise
- Exchange 2003
- Windows XP
- Windows Vista
- Windows 2000
- Ubuntu Linux
- OpenSuSE Linux
- Mac OSX (10.3 and 10.4)
- Solaris 8
- SQL 2005
- Various specialised software for the transport industry

I have specific knowledge on some of this, broad knowledge on all of it, and always think "There's so much I *don't* know". It gets a bit down heartening sometimes. For one thing - I
have no clue about SQL 2005 and I need to make it work with another bit of software. All
complicated and nothing straightforward. Irritating doesn't begin to explain it. As to the
Microsoft Software - because of it's prevalence throughout the world, there is a lot of
online information available. Likewise with Linux - it's incredibly rare to encounter a problem someone else hasn't already come up against.

So how to function within such an environment? Understanding I think is the key. The more
you understand about the process, the easier it is to figure things out. To my reckoning, understanding the "why" of how things work makes the job of learning new things fast to fix
problems much easier. For beginning sysadmins it's probably the most important thing. That
and curiosity. I'm always interested in learning about new things and trying new stuff out. Having sufficient hardware to indulge in this obsession doesn't hurt either. If you can't have all new stuff - second hand stuff is a good way to play.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Windows 10 Enterprise Eval - gotchas

After an annoying turn of events where my Windows 10 Enterprise USB drive failed, attempts to install Win10 onto a computer failed miserably. I turned to the net and managed to get my hands on Microsoft's Windows 10 Enterprise Evaluation. I have an enterprise key so I thought - cool! Here's the opportunity to get it going and to then upgrade the license later. Full install, patched etc and all is swell. Except when I try to upgrade. I straight up tried changing the licence key only to get a variety of errors, most of which are pertaining to the activation system being unavailable. The I try this: https://winaero.com/blog/upgrade-windows-10-evaluation-to-full-version-easily/ but it doesn't work either. Next I'll try this: h ttp://www.edugeek.net/forums/windows-10/174594-upgrading-windows-10-enterprise-90-evaluation-full.html And if all else fails, in goes the bootable USB I've now created. If only I'd had this in the first instance I would not be writing t

Fixing a black screen after doing a Kali Linux update

Kali Linux is a rolling Linux distribution designed for security and penetration work. You can find details on it here: www.kali.org . We run this excellent product for a range of different security work and it's been great. I built the image in VMplayer, then shared it to the team and we've all been at it since. A recent update broke it though - black screen, no network and completely unresponsive. There are lots of posts about similar things - mostly to do with graphics adaptors, however, we found that executing the following at a root prompt fixed it. But how to get to the root prompt from a blank screen? Linux has a number of terminals available to the user - most of us use the graphical one to do our day to day, but you can access a command line prompt without much trouble. Simply hold CTRL-ALT and then F2 or F3 down at the same time and it drops you to a command line login. BOOM. Time to fix it up. For me, and for the other fellas in the team, all it too was to

Plone - the open source Content Management System - a review

One of my clients, a non-profit, has a lot of files on it's clients. They need a way to digitally store these files, securely and with availability for certain people. They also need these files to expire and be deleted after a given length of time - usually about 7 years. These were the parameters I was given to search for a Document Management System (DMS) or more commonly a Content Management System (CMS). There are quite a lot of them, but most are designed for front facing information delivery - that is, to write something, put it up for review, have it reviewed and then published. We do not want this data published ever - and some CMS's make that a bit tricky to manage. So at the end of the day, I looked into several CMS systems that looked like they could be useful. The first one to be reviewed was OpenKM ( www.openkm.com ). It looked OK, was open source which is preferable and seemed to have solid security and publishing options. Backing up the database and upgradin