Linux Book

Ryan Simpkins plug at ryansimpkins.com
Fri Aug 10 15:31:53 MDT 2007


On Fri, August 10, 2007 14:16, Hans Fugal wrote:
> On Thu,  9 Aug 2007 at 16:42 -0600, Ryan Simpkins wrote:
>> On Thu, August 9, 2007 13:11, Adam Fisher wrote:
>> > I am looking for a Linux Sys Admin book that will cover just about
>> > everything at a very advanced level.  Any recommendations?
>>
>> I can't speak highly enough about the following books:
>>
>> Understanding the Linux Kernel
>
> This is an excellent book for understanding the Linux kernel from the
> inside out, but understanding the Linux kernel from the inside out is
> rarely needed for system administration. If you're interested in the
> topic, though, delving into the internals of the kernel can give you
> insights into system administration decisions (e.g. relating to
> filesystems or performance).

In my opinion any "'very advanced' Linux System Administrator" would have had
read this book (or something similar). If Linux is your thing, and you want to
be a very advanced admin, you need to understand details about how the kernel
works. You don't need to be a kernel developer, but you need to understand the
technologies in the Linux kernel beyond the typical admin. When the book gets
in to the particulars about interfaces and what not you can skip those
sections. You should read the explanation sections though. I again highly
recommend it, as a Linux Administrator, for Linux Administrators.

Several sections of the book are also suitable for intermediate admins as
well. If you are considering Linux administration as a profession, I highly
recommend you pick this up some time during your career and slog through it.

Further, I can state that as a Sr. Linux System Administrator myself, having
detailed knowledge about the Linux kernel internals is frequently used. My
manager (an experienced admin), who oversees half a dozen other Linux admins,
will frequently ask us about the capabilities of the Linux kernel.

Additionally, I can say that in the last 3 months having an understanding of
many of the kernel internals has helped our team solve complex administrative
issues. These include things like CPU affinity bugs, >2TB partition support,
filesystem issues, and various performance concerns.

It is a book that doesn't tell you what buttons to press. It fills your head
with ideas, a way of thinking, and a point of reference for new technologies
that find themselves in the kernel.

For example, should a very advanced Linux admin care about the SLUB vs. SLAB
allocator? Do you know what those are? Why should or should you not care in a
complex Linux environment? What sorts of things are likely to be affected by
such a change? When you cat /proc/slabinfo what things might you be interested
in? Where do you get the slabinfo with SLUB? Do you have a point of reference
to even know what I'm talking about? You may have one if you regularly read
kerneltrap or the LKML, but you most certainly would if you have read the
book. ;-)

-Ryan



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