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Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by xanadu: 12:19am On Jan 22, 2009
I know, from several posts on this forum, that there are a number of Systems Admins here on Nairaland, and I thought it might be a good idea if we started a thread where we could share our experiences, try to solve problems etc.

Now just in case anyone is wondering who exactly a System Admin might be, lets simply use a definition from Wikipedia:

A system administrator, systems administrator, or sysadmin, is a person employed to maintain and operate a computer system and/or network. Sysadmins are usually charged with installing, supporting, and maintaining servers or other computer systems, and planning for and responding to service outages and other problems. Other duties may include scripting or light programming, project management for systems-related projects, supervising or training computer operators, and being the consultant for computer problems beyond the knowledge of technical support staff.

So - does the above definition describe you? Then let's roll with this. it could be interesting to share 'field' experiences, anecdotes, and help answer question some of us might have - anything from basic networking, imaging and rollouts to scripting, server virtualisation, clustering etc.

Any one game?
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by gozzilla(m): 1:01am On Jan 22, 2009
Kick start the stuff. Its your thread. So tell us your path to being a sysadmin. I mean your qual. and the programs you use and your preferred OS.
its your thread lead the way man.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by bigrovar(m): 7:10am On Jan 22, 2009
nice one . am a system administrator for a university here in Nigeria. i administer over 140 computers (yeah i know its not much) provide support for visiting faculties and research fellows. we run Linux on all our system (plan on setting up a windows lab but licensing issues) most of my job involves the use to LDAP (active directory) NFS (Network File Systems) and Systemimager (for creating OS clones) i also use ssh and cluster ssh which allows me to remotely administer all our nodes. am not a programmer although i do enough scripting to help me get by. in all i love my job and each day brings new challenges. i however  have doubt about this thread surviving we just dont have many gurus in NL anymore. and i have seen many intellectual discussions like this go to the dogs. although i hope that this proves to be an exception. because if it does it would be a great way to share ideas and improve more on our kung -fu skills in the art of system administration.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by xanadu: 6:22pm On Jan 22, 2009
Thanks for contributing, guys.

i however  have doubt about this thread surviving we just dont have many gurus in NL anymore.

It's not really about being a 'guru' - in fact the hope is that we can all learn here. So being a 'guru' is certainly NOT a prerequisite.

At the organization where I work (infrastructure services team), my main focus is on Microsoft systems, so hopefully we can learn from your Linux experience, @bigrover!

Well, working in an environment with about 850 servers (windows-based, there are some others that are UNIX-based which I don't touch!); one is able to come across various challenges and learn lots too. Applications include Microsoft Exchange, Lotus Domino (application hosting, not for messaging), IIS 6, MS SQL, various in-house developed applications. Main server platform - Windows 2003 Server R2 Standard, clients are on Windows XP SP2 platform.

It would be nice to see questions on this thread regarding challenges any Sys Admin might have, or challenges faced. For example, I spent many hours trying to figure out why one our Domino servers was taking an extraordinarily long time to finish a backup operation - 22 hours instead of 5 hours! Turned out that the network card team (two NICS configured to work as one, for redundancy) on that box had broken, and additionally, the individual cards were set to run at 10 mbps, in a gigabit Ethernet (1000mbps) network. Resetting the speed and re-creating the team fixed the issue.

One area that certainly interests me is Server Virtualisation, and all the benefits it has to offer organisations. The ability to run several 'virtual' servers on the same physical box must be one of modern technology's more exciting areas.  In the environment where I work, we have achieved abut a 45:1 ratio of virtual servers to physical servers, which means the actual number of physical servers we have is much less than the total number of servers (850) I mentioned above. At the moment, the product we use is VMWare ESX, though because the company has a relationship with Microsoft, there is talk about considering Microsoft's offering in the virtual server market - Hyper-V, included in Windows 2008 Server. Of course Microsoft also has a 'free' version of virtual software which it simply calls Microsoft Virtual Server. Has anyone had any experience with virtualisation? Would be nice to hear from you! And it does not have to be about virtualization alone – logon scripts, application support, OS install/support, backups/disaster recovery, active directory etc.

Well - let’s share and learn: would be glad to answer questions that I might have the answer to and hopefully others can help with too. Would also be glad to learn new 'tricks' as well!
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by bigrovar(m): 8:47pm On Jan 22, 2009
@xanadu
hmm interesting our admins experiences are quite different which is cool because i sure hope to learn one or to things from you about administering windows. because we use just Linux here but we hope to setup a windows lab soon as when we get the licensing issue sorted. is you administration environment like ? GUI or CLI , all our servers are just cli which makes administration more fun, although i have VMWare server installed on my personal desktop/server , i use it purely for test purposes. Visualization is indeed the future as hardware visualization gains more ground and am personally looking into the technology and how we can take advantage of it here. one thing i would like to learn from you is how it would be possible to setup a central update server for windows. and also on how to setup an active directory server and domain controller in a windows environment. i also use couple of web applications hosted on our LAMP stack mostly CMS running within our local network.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by xanadu: 10:55pm On Jan 22, 2009
@bigrovar,

is you administration environment like ? GUI or CLI ,  all our servers are just cli which makes administration more fun,  although i have VMWare server installed on my personal desktop/server ,  i use it purely for test purposes.

Windows system administration could be done with tools that feature a GUI (particularly Microsoft Management Consoles, MMC), or using command line (CLI) as well, especially if one has the Windows Support Tools installed. There are also scripting tools (Windows Scripting Host, and more recently, Power Shell) for automating most administrative tasks. So, we use a mix of GUI and Command-line based tools.

Visualization is indeed the future as hardware visualization gains more ground and am personally looking into the technology and how we can take advantage of it here

Yes, I agree with you that virtualisation has a lot to offer - cost-wise, administration-wise. Of course there are still a few issues - for example you would ideally want to virtualise servers that run applications with relatively low memory/cpu utilisation etc. But even at that, many companies recognise that this is the way to go.

one thing i would like to learn from you is how it would be possible to setup a central update server for windows.

Yes, you can set up a central update server in a Windows environment, for the specific purpose of getting network clients updated with the latest patches/updates from Microsoft. The service which actually does this is called the Microsoft Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), which is now in version 3.0. Installing this server component on a Windows 2003 R2 server or Windows 2008 Server allows you to manage and distribute updates to your network clients. A simple scenario would be having one server (in a small-sized business, for example) connected to the Internet, and receiving the updates from Microsoft. You as the administrator can then control the deployment of these updates using WSUS. Of course your clients can use automatic windows updates and deploy directly from Microsoft, but in a corporate environment, you might want to make this process uniform and more organised, which WSUS does. Also, you can receive updates earlier (with version 3, you configure a server to synchronise automatically more frequently, as frequently as once every hour. Better control also means you can get report from individual client machines, and keep track of updates installed there. WSUS allows you manage updates to clients running Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2000 SP4.

and also on how to setup an active directory server and domain controller in a windows environment.

Setting up a Windows active directory implementation on your network can be a straightforward business or a bit more complicated, depending on variables such as your network size, site requirements, etc. The actual process of setting up your first domain controller (I assume you will be doing this on at least a Windows 2000 SP4 box, but better still a Windows 2003 R2 box) itself is not a difficult process, and is something I will only be too glad to share what I know with you. Once you have the basic requirements - your box has an NTFS partition, is configured with a network card which is properly configured with IP details, a DNS Server (you can actually install this on the box itself during the active directory installation procedure, and the domain name you want to use - you should be good to go.
After the installation, of course, there's more to the implementation - setting up organisational Units (OUs) for better administration, Group Policy implementation, etc. There's tons of stuff out on the web that you can really learn from. If you want, I can list a simple step-step-procedure here, on how to install your first domain controller (active directory).

i also use couple of web applications hosted on our LAMP stack mostly CMS running within our local network.

Not sure I understand what you mean regarding the web applications you spoke about. You are using Linux - am I right in assuming the apps run on apache? The Windows environment can support web apps with IIS - you get version 6 with Windows Server 2003, a much safe and stable version than the IIS that was much-maligned in the past. Anyway, tell me a bit more about these apps.

Well, I hope I have helped in some way.

And I hope others join us in discussing the exciting life of being a Sys Admin!
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by bigrovar(m): 5:48am On Jan 23, 2009
Windows system administration could be done with tools that feature a GUI (particularly Microsoft Management Consoles, MMC), or using command line (CLI) as well, especially if one has the Windows Support Tools installed. There are also scripting tools (Windows Scripting Host, and more recently, Power Shell) for automating most administrative tasks. So, we use a mix of GUI and Command-line based tools.

hmmm here system administration is done mainly via a CLI Console. ( in the linux world its considered a mortal sin to install gui on a server) on a serious note i find that running a pure cli server helps the server with speed and makes it much more secured. the biggest resource huge of a computer is gui. and with that stripped out. the server is slim and does just what we need it to do. 2 tools i find my self using and which i cant do without are screen and ssh. this help me log in remotely into the server from anywhere and continue (ssh) and continue any session i was running on the server from the last time (screen) which would be detached and re-attached to my current location.



Yes, you can set up a central update server in a Windows environment, for the specific purpose of getting network clients updated with the latest patches/updates from Microsoft. The service which actually does this is called the Microsoft Windows Server Update Services (WSUS), which is now in version 3.0. Installing this server component on a Windows 2003 R2 server or Windows 2008 Server allows you to manage and distribute updates to your network clients. A simple scenario would be having one server (in a small-sized business, for example) connected to the Internet, and receiving the updates from Microsoft. You as the administrator can then control the deployment of these updates using WSUS. Of course your clients can use automatic windows updates and deploy directly from Microsoft, but in a corporate environment, you might want to make this process uniform and more organised, which WSUS does. Also, you can receive updates earlier (with version 3, you configure a server to synchronise automatically more frequently, as frequently as once every hour. Better control also means you can get report from individual client machines, and keep track of updates installed there. WSUS allows you manage updates to clients running Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2008, Windows Vista, Microsoft Windows XP SP2 and Windows 2000 SP4.

hmm interesting ,  i will do more research but thanks for the head start. on linux i have a central update repository which does it. its called apt-cacher and we use it to cache any software installed via apt-get (a package management tool used in debian linux) and stores it locally in the apt-caher should anysystem on the network need same package. it would be downloaded from the apt-cacher instead. the process works smoothly and as saved us lots of bandwidth. but the WSUS solution is also good stuff for a windows environment i most say.


Setting up a Windows active directory implementation on your network can be a straightforward business or a bit more complicated, depending on variables such as your network size, site requirements, etc. The actual process of setting up your first domain controller (I assume you will be doing this on at least a Windows 2000 SP4 box, but better still a Windows 2003 R2 box) itself is not a difficult process, and is something I will only be too glad to share what I know with you. Once you have the basic requirements - your box has an NTFS partition, is configured with a network card which is properly configured with IP details, a DNS Server (you can actually install this on the box itself during the active directory installation procedure, and the domain name you want to use - you should be good to go.
After the installation, of course, there's more to the implementation - setting up organisational Units (OUs) for better administration, Group Policy implementation, etc. There's tons of stuff out on the web that you can really learn from. If you want, I can list a simple step-step-procedure here, on how to install your first domain controller (active directory).

hmm interesting i will try it out.

Not sure I understand what you mean regarding the web applications you spoke about.
  mostly content management systems (like drupal which we use in developing the school's website), Enterprise management systems (like egroupware and alfresco which are really good groupware solutions for enterprise,  right now am setting up a file repository for staffs to share documents in a public folder. using opendocman or knowledgetree), i also have a couple of inventory softwares which runs on LAMP and can be used to taking automatic inventory of all the computers we have on our network their configuration -to the last details and every software we run on them. and also a help desk which is used by staffs to report bugs,ask questions, and propose or request for new features for the IT infrastructure,  not forgetting a local IM chat server powered by jabber/XMPP which we use for local chating,file transfer, and voip within the network. plus a local forum that powered by simple machines (the same forum engine used here in Nairaland) yep these are some of the web applications that we have running on our web servers.


You are using Linux
yep

am I right in assuming the apps run on apache?
sure
The Windows environment can support web apps with IIS - you get version 6 with Windows Server 2003, a much safe and stable version than the IIS that was much-maligned in the past.
hmmm beside apache also runs on windows

And I hope others join us in discussing the exciting life of being a Sys Admin!

dont bet on that happening ,  we stand a better chance on getting poeple to participate if this were a windows vs Linux thingie or if this were about soiling ISP to get free internet sad
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by FBS: 10:02am On Jan 23, 2009
I have graduated from being a sysadmin to a Head IT Support Dept but I still perform the task of a sys admin. Its so much fun when you know what you are doing.
With SOE, installation, configuration has been made easy and will remote access tools, you can afford to sit while you resolve all trouble tickets.

The World belongs to US and God bless US. cool wink
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by qtx: 10:31am On Jan 23, 2009
Hi Fellow System Admins,
Great to have a thread like this introduced here.
I m based in lagos nigeria and will qucikly want to start my MCSE training but faced wit the prolem of where to go for this training. there are so many here doe but  most of them less competent to give d required standard of  training. Please if u know of any serious centre u can recommend for  me pls state their address as well. [b]alternatively, if u have any good book u can recommend as well on server admin on windows and linux pls help [/b]I need it fast.
Thanx and God bless u.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by Nobody: 10:55am On Jan 23, 2009
I hope this thread stays on the front page, it will be resounding!!!!
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by bigrovar(m): 11:02am On Jan 23, 2009
qtx:

Hi Fellow System Admins,
Great to have a thread like this introduced here.
I m based in lagos nigeria and will qucikly want to start my MCSE training but faced wit the prolem of where to go for this training. there are so many here doe but  most of them less competent to give d required standard of  training. Please if u know of any serious centre u can recommend for  me pls state their address as well. I need it fast.
Thanx and God bless u.

hmm i didnt go for any training for my system admin stuff , IT training schools are crap IMHO do be a good sysamdin all u need is passion and the will to learn. u have got to love trouble shooting and learn more about how to make computers work better. looking for innovative ways to get things done better. because in sysadmin land, its more of what you know and can do than what cert you have. however its always good to have a cert from a recognized school so that at least you can be listened to. and for that i would say NIIT yeah they suck. but all u need is their cert which many enterpise people respect. but forget it about learning or gaining any knowledge from them. its best to have a background knowledge before making the jumb.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by temilaw25: 11:11am On Jan 23, 2009
This seems to be an interesting thread and i hope we all get to learn something new and also share our ideas as regards our day-to-day challenges on our job.
@Xanadu
Just an addition to bigrovar's contribution on the WSUS, another reason you would want to implement a central update service is as a result of limited bandwidth. You wouldn't want all your client ystems connecting directly to the internet for daily update as this will definitely choke your bandwidth and make you constatntly yarn for bandwidth upgrade from your service provider.

Setting up AD in windows 2003 environment can be quite straight forward, and i don't think getting your hands dirty on windows environment would be much of a problem to you with your background in Linux.
It wouldn't be a bad idea for us to develop a step by step guide on different topics using this forum. I am particularly interested in learning linux. I would appreciate any more contributions from you as regards a quick to getting into Linux CLI.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by kehindebad(m): 11:44am On Jan 23, 2009
Omo i'm doffing my hat for u guys o
140 systems, a hundred plus servers, waoh
i'm administering just 4 servers and abt 25 systems and it seems like a lot of work
well i actually do accounting duties sha
and u all got it right,
u've got to like this job, if u dont, no jupiter can help u
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by bigrovar(m): 12:02pm On Jan 23, 2009
temilaw25:

This seems to be an interesting thread and i hope we all get to learn something new and also share our ideas as regards our day-to-day challenges on our job.
@Xanadu
Just an addition to bigrovar's contribution on the WSUS, another reason you would want to implement a central update service is as a result of limited bandwidth. You wouldn't want all your client ystems connecting directly to the internet for daily update as this will definitely choke your bandwidth and make you constatntly yarn for bandwidth upgrade from your service provider.
you sure can say that again. its just a win win situation.another cool thing if i most add is having a central Anti vrius on the network, so that this would reduce the extra load that installing a local anti virus on each computers would cost. AV are some of the biggest resource hugs on windows pcs but installing a network based AV would go a long way to help.

Setting up AD in windows 2003 environment can be quite straight forward, and i don't think getting your hands dirty on windows environment would be much of a problem to you with your background in Linux.
yeah i think so to although i most admit my knowledge of windows nowadays is very rusty (i used windows on any of my PCs for over a year and half and i really need to brush up my skills)
It wouldn't be a bad idea for us to develop a step by step guide on different topics using this forum. I am particularly interested in learning linux. I would appreciate any more contributions from you as regards a quick to getting into Linux CLI.
sure wouldnt , but you know documentation is a witch , and the best way to start linux is to get to use it. that way you learn and have fun at the same time. u might not believe it but i started my linux lessons here on Naira land some 2 years ago. it started our of curiosity.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by danedrol: 12:23pm On Jan 23, 2009
Looks like I'm about to learn a few things here
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by bjcisse: 12:27pm On Jan 23, 2009
this poster must be working in one of the bank's data center. Mostly they are the ones with large numbers of servers like that.

Just like what FBS said, I have also graduated from a system/network admin to an I.T manager. I dont no the number of servers i have and computers as they are spread across countries.

My network basically consist of Microsoft and Cisco technology. i use server 2008 throughout my enterprise network

Basically i need someone talk about exchange 2007. challenges face deploying it
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by dje(m): 1:41pm On Jan 23, 2009
Great to see a post like this.thsi shud be cool to share ideas,experiences and challenges.just graduated to a IT manager but still perform sysadmin duties.got 8 servers plus a 100pcs.

have you guys heard bout spiceworks?

@ bigrover

being an opensource dude,check it out.has lots of tools to make a sysadmin's life easy and its free.plus a network of it pros all over the world
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by zoomzu(f): 1:43pm On Jan 23, 2009
The Admin Gurus,

I am also a system Admin in my office, but presently my organisation is still under construct but what we use presently is just about 20 systems and one Linus Internet Server, 3 Access point and 2 Nano Station for WAN ( It provide internet to my Boss's house from the office about 5km away from the office) Though, maketing is my first degree buy while in school, I so much have passion for computer related tasks and it was after my NYSC that I went to NIIT for MCSE Training.

It is when I started working I realized that what is in the field is quite different from what is being taught in class. Now, I work with confidence when it comes to wireless networking but still want to learn cos I am the only I.T person in my organisation for now, I wish to work with people that knows more than I do. I hope this thread will last for ever.

Thank you all and God bless.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by zoomzu(f): 2:01pm On Jan 23, 2009
@dje,

Please what is spiceworks all about?
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by Nobody: 2:17pm On Jan 23, 2009
I know you can do system administration with scripting like msdos batch files, unix shell scripts, linux ssh, and i also know that you can do system administration better if you are a programmer (i hope nobody argues with me on that) - though i am aware that there are lots of softwares available for system admin (made by programmers).
So my question here is (on behalf of a friend who happens to be a system admin) - which programming lang do u think is best for a sysadmin to learn?
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by dje(m): 2:24pm On Jan 23, 2009
@zoomzu

basically a network admin tool.you can run it to see all the servers,pcs and apps running on your network.you can monitor list all the services being offered by third parties to you and it also has a helpdesk module.etc they just up

Manage Everything IT, for Free!

You want a network you can manage, not a network that manages you! You wish you could have it, without spending a fortune. Your wish is granted.
The IT Tools You Need.

Spiceworks combines everything you need to manage IT in one easy-to-use application:

* Software inventory, network inventory, PC inventory. Inventory every IT thing you manage.
* Network monitoring, Exchange monitoring, license monitoring and more. Stay alert!
* Asset reporting, inventory reporting, share a report. Report to your heart's content!
* Helpdesk & IT Portal. Let 'em submit a ticket! Now you can track every IT task and project.

they just upgraded it to version 3.5 and added a network bandwidth analyser among others

go to spiceworks.com for more info
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by vincentont(m): 2:39pm On Jan 23, 2009
this is definitly going to b da bomb thread,i want to use dis medium to thank the originator of the thread.
we shuld use this thread to post our challenges,wats new in IT WORLD,etc
am a sys admin in a financial firm.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by zoomzu(f): 2:44pm On Jan 23, 2009
@dje,

Thanks a lot. I downloading it now.

Regards.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by bigrovar(m): 2:48pm On Jan 23, 2009
dje:

Great to see a post like this.thsi shud be cool to share ideas,experiences and challenges.just graduated to a IT manager but still perform sysadmin duties.got 8 servers plus a 100pcs.

have you guys heard bout spiceworks?

@ bigrover

being an opensource dude,check it out.has lots of tools to make a sysadmin's life easy and its free.plus a network of it pros all over the world

checked it out before , its a cool product but it only runs on a windows server, i have a tool (infact two) that does the same thing on Nix, and there run perfectly.  but thanks anyway.

I know you can do system administration with scripting like msdos batch files, unix shell scripts, linux ssh, and i also know that you can do system administration better if you are a programmer (i hope nobody argues with me on that) - though i am aware that there are lots of softwares available for system admin (made by programmers).
So my question here is (on behalf of a friend who happens to be a system admin) - which programming lang do u think is best for a sysadmin to learn?
it sure helps a sysadmin if he knows programing , but its by no means a requirement, as long as u can troubleshoot and always project into the future and stay current on recent technologies , then you wont have a problem. i dont know about windows but in Linux knowing a bit of python or C would make your life easier .
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by FBS: 3:15pm On Jan 23, 2009
bjcisse:

Basically i need someone talk about exchange 2007. challenges face deploying it
what challenges are you facing?
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by FBS: 3:20pm On Jan 23, 2009
Trend Micro is flagging the network tool from spiceworks.com
It says this is an issue with Trend. Will have to check this one out. It will be a sad story if you have some malware sitted somewhere wink
AVG Also reported that the EXE package included a potentially harmful program, "HackTool. DHQ".
Sounds like a cool software if the above threat doesn't really exist.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by FBS: 3:30pm On Jan 23, 2009
bigrovar:

it sure helps a sysadmin if he knows programing ,  but its by no means a requirement,  as long as u can troubleshoot and always project into the future and stay current on recent technologies ,  then you wont have a problem.
The 1 most important thing a sysadmin should learn how to do is troubleshooting and when I say troubleshooting, I mean doing it fast. How fast and well you can troubleshoot is what will make any sysadmin stand out.
You can know have have all the programming (software), engineering (hardware) skills but if you aint fast with it, your worth may not be that valued.

The sweetest part of being a sysadmin is when you are not around and everything goes bad. Only for you to appear, perform a few tricks and after 5-10 mins, the office is up and running. You almost fee like a genius. aint it?
Thats what I mean by troubleshooting fast. grin

Folks lets keep this thread alive.
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by mikkyphp(m): 3:50pm On Jan 23, 2009
Hi all, I'm a sys admin wiff a leading ISP in lagos.
@FBS, yeah dat reminds me of the last muslim holiday. on the second day the break, i received an SOS call from the office, apparently we had a surge in d server room and the bandwidth manager refused to boot ?(FreeBSD OS). initially i was vexed and i grumbled cos i already had plans of eating sallah RAM in 2places. i eventuallly went to the office, and with everybody in high expectation, i rose to the occassion, wrote a line of code (6 xters) and voila! the server was up and running. I smiled and rekindled my plans for the rest of the day. grin

I like the job cos it's very challenging, and challenges bring out the best in me
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by FBS: 4:01pm On Jan 23, 2009
thats exactly what I'm talking about. Such moments are precious. wink cheesy
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by bigrovar(m): 4:15pm On Jan 23, 2009
A good sysadmin should also learn how to make projections , u should be able to have a plan for the next 2,3,5, 10 years always be ahead so that new technologies dont catch u unawares , always learn and keep an open mind, some say if it arent broken dont fix it, still its never a bad idea to try something new perhaps in a test enirons, my attitude is to go for open source technologies something that wont lock my organisation down, with licenses and restriction. most times i also search for free tools that can get the job done than proprietary expensive once. which just give u a GUI and automate everything so that when the system break down , u have no idea how to fix it. i prefer setting things by hand , editing config files, i prefer this to point and clicking my way out of problem especially in the backend side of things. also you must be a good teacher, and most also listen to non techie people you work wit, understand their needs and try to create solution that would make their job easier. most times it your job to get them what they lack which most things they are unaware of,
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by mikkyphp(m): 4:36pm On Jan 23, 2009
true story. even though it isnt best practice, in addition to bigbrovar comments, i also use cracked softwares from reliable torrent sites, all to save the company coins.
OPEN SOURCE Rocks!!!!! kiss
Re: Calling Systems Administrators - Our Own Thread? by xanadu: 6:04pm On Jan 23, 2009
because in sysadmin land,  its more of what you know and can do than what cert you have
@bigrover,
I can't agree more with you. Of course having a certification will likely get your foot in the door - but my experience is that at the end of the day, 'cowboys' will always show up their inefficiencies. It is very good to get certified, but attaining a reasonable level of skill at what you do can only come from experience (much like anything else in life, I should add). Experience can come not only for working in a corporate environment, but also if one has the opportunity to take advantage of trial/evaluation software readily available on the Internet, setting up a mini-network at home where possible, and generally staying current technology.

I remember a telephone interview I had about nine years ago. I had just passed my first Microsoft certification exam, and was interviewing for a Service Desk role. The interviewer asked me about several basic aspects of MS technologies which were a breeze for me. Then he asked me: "Are you familiar with escalation processes?" Ah ah. Escalation what? As far as I knew at that point, that word meant a situation getting increasingly worse or bad. But relating it to Information Technology?? Of course I said yes, I was familiar with it (Naijaman no dey carry last!). Of course the next question was: "Tell me about your experience, when you had to escalate." My people, I stammered and stuttered - and I don't need to tell you I never got through to the second stage of the interview! (Of course escalation is the process of passing on an incident or issue to the next (higher) level of support).

So simply 'blasting' through the cert exams will not prepare you all the way - there is no such topic as 'Escalation' in any of the certification paths, I am sure.

and i also know that you can do system administration better if you are a programmer (i hope nobody argues with me on that) - though i am aware that there are lots of softwares available for system admin (made by programmers).
@dhtml,
I hope you don't see this as an argument, but like @bigrover said above, being a programmer is by no means a requirement. In fact, while a background in programming might help in the course of your work, a programmer who has no clue what active directory is all about cannot administer that sort of environment with all his VB or scripting skills. You see what I mean? If you are writing a piece of code to carry out or automate an admin task, you are basically using that piece of code to tell some server or network component what it should do and/or how to do it. If you have no understanding of the workings of that component itself, your programming skills will be of no help. I think we should keep in mind that Systems Admin is NOT the same as programming - though programming does help.

With regards to your question about which programming tools can be helpful to learn as a Sys Admin, I think that learning Visual Basic would be helpful within the context of a Windows environment. Of course the basic NT shell scripting too. The later versions of the Windows family support a tool called Power Shell (http://www.microsoft.com/windowsserver2003/technologies/management/powershell/default.mspx). There is another powerful scripting tool called Kixtart (http://www.kixtart.org/). I personally use this, and the learning curve is not steep at all. As @bigrover mentioned above, Python or C would help in a Linux environment.

true story. even though it isnt best practice, in addition to bigbrovar comments,  i also use cracked softwares from reliable torrent sites, all to save the company coins.
OPEN SOURCE Rocks!!!!!
@mikkyphp,
I am not sure if you use the 'cracked' software at home, or in the company you work for? You do acknowledge it is not best practice, but your company can get into trouble for that, and you might not want to be responsible for that. At the end of the day, the company might have to cough out much more than the 'coins' you might have 'saved' them.

One suggestion I'd like to make to Sys Admins out there, especially those who are in a position to influence things in their organisations, is to try to create a test or development environment, separate to the production or 'live' environment. I know that this sounds obvious, but I also know that there are many companies that don’t do this. For example - say Microsoft releases a critical update. You have some applications running on your clients machines. You deploy this update straight away, without testing it - and one or two of your apps stop working on all your client machines! (This scenario was a major issue a few MS updates back, with a firewall application, Zone Alarm). Or say you are migrating from one client OS to another, say from Windows XP to Windows Vista, and you have not properly tested and ensured that all your client applications will run smoothly on the new OS. Another potential recipe for disaster.

So creating a test environment will help. There might be cost implications - but at the end of the day it does not have to be elaborate. A few machines will do the trick. Many organisations will even create a completely separate domain for test or dev. This way, new apps, updates etc can be properly tested and compatibility ensured, before rolling out to the production environment.

Great stuff - lets keep it coming!

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