Linux for Windows Administrators
October 30, 2005 7:43 AM   Subscribe

I am a Windows administrator who is trying to learn how to configure a Linux server. What would be most helpful to me at this point is a reference that walks me through the process of configuring major server rolls, preferably comparing and contrasting the process to doing the same on a windows server.

I have gone through several online manuals and store bought books of varying quality. Most will either bog down useful information in networking basics, or on the other end, assume previous Linux experience. Has anyone come across a specific resource of recent vintage that might be what I am looking for?
posted by worstkidever to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Have you looked at Linux for Windows Administrators?
posted by cmonkey at 7:52 AM on October 30, 2005

Response by poster: Oh lord...rolls. Damn my belly and the limitations of spell checking.
I have not looked at that one, my reservation on that was the age, printed in 2000, I think.
posted by worstkidever at 8:07 AM on October 30, 2005

Essential System Administration? Running Linux?

Two truths: the basics of Unix don't change much. A five-year-old book is not a problem in that respect. Of course, the specifics do change. If you need to know how to configure the October 30, 2005 version of an application, that's a different question (and generally one for Google rather than a book).

We don't know how much Linux hand-holding you need. We also don't know the distribution you're using (Red Hat is subtly different from Debian which is subtly different from...). Do you just need to know how to configure App X or do you need to write a 500-line shell script that slices, dices and cooks lentils at the same time?
posted by jellicle at 8:24 AM on October 30, 2005

"Setting Up LAMP: Getting Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP Working Together" is a good book.
posted by banished at 11:26 AM on October 30, 2005

the distro can be quite important, especially at a basic level. in my (limited) experience/opinion you are (now) better off if you work with the distro, rather than ignore it.

in other words, it's always possible to drop straight into /etc and start editing things, but many distros provide a layer above that which can make your life easier for simple tasks. unfortunately, given the limitations inherent in building something on top of human editable config files, you can end up confusing that layer if you edit the underlaying files without understanding what's going on above.

a while ago i thought the best approach was to simply ignore the layer above, since it made life too hard. however, with the latest suse releases, i think the balance has swung back the other way. the layer they add is worth keeping around, and that means taking a little extra care to go with the flow.

i assume other distros are, or soon will be, in a similar position, but no doubt each will also be different.

as i said, my experience is limited. if you have a lot of machines to work with you probably want to be using some kind of tool for propagating changes. i would guess that's a similar case - a different extra layer you need to keep happy - but i really know nothing at all about that.

or, another way of looking at this - if you're going to mess aorund directly with generic configs, using a distro-agnostic guide (which might be a sensible way to start), don't expect to use the machine afterwards. reinstall once you're done learning each tool, and focus on the stuff the distro has layered on top.

reading that i should clarify that's it's nearly always best to go with the package system appropriate for the distro. what i'm advocating is more than that - using the gui doodahs provided to manage the machine, which assume a certain arrangement of config files, certain comments/formats in those files, etc etc.
posted by andrew cooke at 11:54 AM on October 30, 2005

I'm not so sure I agree with Andrew Cooke. You should delve into config files on the command prompt. They really aren't very complicated and are vital to a clean, properly run server.

I'll assume you are refering to a web server, but the same goes with pdcs, you really shouldn't be installing a bunch of jazzy guis and extra tools. The more of these things installed, the more possible security holes and lack of stability.

If you want to dabble with an easy to setup, simple web server; grab ubuntu, install the base operating system by typing server during the install cd bootup. Then follow this simple guide that will only take 10 minutes or so:
posted by meta87 at 2:20 PM on October 30, 2005

I cannot recommend enough the Gentoo Handbook.

It's ostensibly not an administration guide, but an installation walkthrough for Gentoo. However, since Gentoo has no installer and almost all of the installation steps are performed by hand inside a running linux system, it is de facto a great guide to how to configure and administer a system from scratch.

I've been working with linux for over ten years, and I learned some stuff going through it.

Incidentally, gentoo is also a great distribution, but mostly only if you're prepared to understand nearly everything about why your system does what it does.
posted by Caviar at 2:33 PM on October 30, 2005

i wasn't really saying "don't use the command prompt" - i think the best advice is probably "learn to use the command prompt so that you don't break the distro", which is (unfortunately) extra, distro-specific, work (sometimes involving reverse-engineering the scripts, etc).
posted by andrew cooke at 3:46 PM on October 30, 2005

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