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Linux Administration: A Beginner's Guide


"A delight to read. I think this book is well-written enough in explaining what is behind much of Linux. " ?Harvey Friedman,Linux Journal Implement Linux across your network with this practical,hands-on guide.

Learn to install and administer Linux?on an individual workstation or an entire network?with this comprehensive,in-depth reference. You'll find everything you need to get up and running with any Linux distribution,including the latest version of Red Hat(r). Updated to cover the new 2. 4 kernel and complete ...

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"A delight to read. I think this book is well-written enough in explaining what is behind much of Linux. " —Harvey Friedman,Linux Journal Implement Linux across your network with this practical,hands-on guide.

Learn to install and administer Linux—on an individual workstation or an entire network—with this comprehensive,in-depth reference. You'll find everything you need to get up and running with any Linux distribution,including the latest version of Red Hat(r). Updated to cover the new 2. 4 kernel and complete with an expanded section on advanced networking,this book shows you how to install and configure Linux,set up Internet services,handle single host administration,and much more. Plus,you'll get 8 pages of blueprints illustrating the differences between Linux and Windows NT or Windows 2000. If you are a professional administrator wanting to bring Linux into your network topology,a home user with multiple machines wanting to build a simple home network,or are migrating from Windows,you need this book.

  • Install Linux in a server configuration
  • Configure GNOME,KDE,X-Windows,and more
  • Understand single-host administration and manage users
  • Learn to use file systems,create partitions,and configure quota settings
  • Compile the Linux kernel and unpack source code
  • Set up Internet services and learn the mechanics of FTP
  • Provide intranet services including NFS,NIS,SAMBA,DHCP,and LPD
  • Get details on advanced networking with Linux—TCP/IP,packet filtering,cookbook firewalls,IP port forwarding,and much more

Provides in-depth, how-to coverage of Linux administration. Ideal for systems administrators moving from Windows NT to Linux and network administrators bringing Linux into their network topology.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Yowie: a Linux administration guide for mere mortals. As they used to say, "What a concept!"

Steve Shah writes to the millions of people who are familiar with Windows (and perhaps NT and/or 2000) but not with *nix. (He's even provided a 16-page blueprint section comparing how to perform common tasks in Linux and Windows 2000.)

The explanations aren't just simple: They provide plenty of much-needed context. Shah covers everything from installation through advanced networking -- including four detailed chapters on real-world TCP/IP networking, security and all.

This Second Edition is thoroughly updated for Red Hat 7 (included on CD) as well as other new Linux technologies, such as PAM, the latest versions of GNOME, KDE, and Apache; the new File Hierarchy Standard and Linux Standard Base distribution. It's an outstanding resource for new Linux sysadmins.(Bill Camarda)

Bill Camarda is a consultant and writer with nearly 20 years' experience in helping technology companies deploy and market advanced software, computing, and networking products and services. His 15 books include Special Edition Using Word 2000 and Upgrading & Fixing Networks For Dummies®, Second Edition.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780072131369
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Companies, The
  • Publication date: 1/29/2001
  • Series: Network Professional's Library Series
  • Edition description: 2ND BK&CDR
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 643
  • Product dimensions: 7.50 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 1.59 (d)

Meet the Author

Steve Shah is a contributing author to several UNIX and Linux publications. He has been a systems administrator and developer since 1992 and has been working with Linux since 1994. In total, he has worked with five flavors of UNIX and three flavors of Windows.
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Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1: Technical Summary of Linux Distributions and Windows NT

Linux and Linux Distributions

Usually people understand Linux to be an entire package of developer tools, editors, GUIs, networking tools, and so forth. More formally, such packages are distributions. You've most likely heard of the Linux distributions named Red Hat, Caldera, and SuSE, which have received a great deal of press and have been purchased for thousands of installations. Noncommercial distributions of Linux such as Slackware and Debian are less well known and haven't reached the same scale of popularity.

So if we consider a distribution "everything you need for Linux," what then is Linux exactly? Linux itself is the core of the operating system: the kernel. The kernel is the program acting as Chief of Operations. It is responsible for starting and stopping other programs (such as editors), handling requests for memory, accessing disks, and managing network connections. The complete list of kernel activities could easily be a chapter in itself, and several books documenting the kernel's internal functions have in fact been written.

The kernel is known as a nontrivial program. It is also what puts the "Linux" into all those Linux distributions. All distributions use the exact same kernel, and thus the fundamental behavior of all Linux distributions is the same.

What separates one distribution from the next is the "value-added" tools that come with each one. Red Hat, for example, includes a very useful tool called Xconfigurator that makes configuring the graphical interface a very straightforward task. Asking "Which distribution is better?" is much like asking "Which is better, Coke or Pepsi?" (Almost) all colas have the same basic ingredients-carbonated water, caffeine, and high fructose corn syrup-thereby giving the similar effect of quenching thirst and bringing on a small caffeine-and-sugar "buzz." In the end, it's a question of personal preference.

"Free" Software And The Gnu License

In the early 1980s, Richard Stallman began a movement within the software industry. He preached (and still does) that software should be free. Note that by "free," he doesn't mean in terms of price, but rather "free" in the same sense as "freedom." This meant not just shipping a product, but the entire source code as well.

Stallman's policy was obviously a wild departure from the early eighties mentality of selling prepackaged software, but his concept of "free" software was in line with the initial distributions of UNIX from Bell Labs. Early UNIX systems did contain full source .code. (By the late 1970s, source code was typically removed from UNIX distributions and could be acquired only by paying large sums of money to AT&T. This policy remained in effect until the FreeBSD and Linux projects materialized.)

The idea of "giving away" the source code is a simple one: Users of the software should never be forced to deal with a developer who might or might not support that user's intentions for the software. The user should never have to wait for bug fixes to be published. More important, code developed under the scutiny of other programmers is typically of higher quality than code written behind locked doors. The greatest benefit of free software, however, comes from the users themselves: Should they need a new feature, they can add it to the program and then contribute it back to the source, so that everyone else can benefit from it.

From this line of thinking has sprung a desire to release a complete UNIX-like system to the public, free of license restrictions. Of course, before you can build any operating system, you need to build tools. And this is how the GNU project was born.

Note: GNU stands for "GNU's Not UNIV-recursive acronyms are part of hacker humor. If you don't understand why it's funny, don't worry, you're still in the majority.

What Is the GNU Public License?

The most important thing to emerge from the GNU project has been the GNU Public License (GPL). This license explicitly states that the software being released is free, and no one can ever take away these freedoms. It is acceptable to take the software and resell it, even for a profit; however, in this resale the seller must release full source code, including any changes. Because the resold package remains under the GPL, the package can be distributed for free and resold yet again by anyone else for a profit. Of primary importance is the liability clause: The programmers are not liable for any damages caused by their software.

The Advantages of "Free" Software

If the GPL seems a bad idea from the standpoint of commercialism, consider the recent surge of successful freeware packages-they are indicative of a system that does indeed work. This success has evolved for two reasons: First, as mentioned earlier, errors in the code itself are far more likely to be caught and quickly fixed under the watchful eyes of peers. Secondly, under the GPL system, programmers can release code without the fear of being sued. Without that protection, no one would ever release his or her code.

This concept of course begs the question of why anyone would release his or her work for free. The answer is simple: Most projects don't start out as full-featured, polished pieces of work. They may very well begin life as a quick hack to solve a specific problem bothering the programmer. As a quick-and-dirty hack, the code has no sales value. But when shared with others who have similar problems and needs, it becomes a useful tool. Other program users begin to enhance it with features they need, and these additions travel back to the original program. The project thus evolves as the result of a group effort and eventually reaches full refinement. This fully refined program contains contributions from possibly hundreds if not thousands of programmers who have added little pieces here and there. In fact, the original author's code is likely to be little in evidence.

Here's another reason for the success of generally licensed software: Any project manager who has worked on commercial software knows that the real cost of development software isn't in the development phase. It's really in the cost of selling, marketing, supporting, documenting, packaging, and shipping that software. A programmer carrying out a weekend lurk to fix a problem with a tiny, kluged program has neither the interest, time, nor backing money to turn that hack into a profitable product.

When Linus Torvalds released Linux, he released it under the GPL. As a result of its open character, Linux has had a notable number of contributors and analyzers. This participation has made Linux very strong and rich in features. Torvalds himself estimates that since the v.2.2.0 kernel, his contributions represent only 5% of the total code base.

Some people have made money with Linux, since anyone can take the Linux kernel (and other supporting programs), repackage them and resell them. As long as these individuals release the kernel's full source code along with their individual packages, and as long as the packages are protected under the GPL, everything is legal. This of course means that packages released under the GPL can be resold by other people under other names for a profit. In the end, what makes a package from one person more valuable than something from another person are the value-added features, support channels, and documentation. Even IBM can agree to this; it's how they made a bulk of their money between the 1930s and 1970s: The money isn't in the product, it's in the services that go with it.

The Major Differences Between Nt And Linux

As you might imagine, the differences between Microsoft Windows NT and the Linux operating systems cannot be completely discussed in the confines of this section. Throughout these chapters, topic by topic, we'll examine the specific contrasts between the two systems. In some chapters, you'll find that we don't derive any comparisons because a major difference doesn't really exist.

But before we attack the details, let's take a moment to discuss the primary architectural differences between the two operating systems.

Single-User vs. Multi-User vs. Network User

Windows NT was designed according to the vision of Microsoft's cofounder Bill Gates: one computer, one desk, one user. For the sake of discussion, we'll call this philosophy single-user. In this arrangement, two people cannot work in parallel running (for example) Microsoft Word on the same machine at the same time. (On the other hand, one might question the wisdom of doing this with an overwhelmingly weighty program like Word!)

Linux borrows its philosophy from UNIX. When UNIX was originally developed at Bell Labs in the early 1970s, it existed on a PDP-7 computer that needed to be shared amongst an entire department. It required a design that allowed for multiple users to log...

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Table of Contents

1 Technical summary of Linux distributions and Windows 2003 3
2 Installing Linux in a server configuration 15
3 Installing software 45
4 Managing users 71
5 The command line 99
6 Booting and shutting down 137
7 File systems 161
8 Core system services 187
9 Compiling the Linux kernel 209
10 Knobs and dials : the proc file system 227
11 TCP/IP for system administrators 241
12 Network configuration 285
13 Configuring the Linux firewall 301
14 Local security 327
15 Network security 343
16 DNS 357
17 FTP 395
18 Setting up your Web server using Apache 413
19 SMTP 429
20 POP and IMAP 441
21 The secure shell (SSH) 453
22 Network file system (NFS) 473
23 Network information service (NIS) 493
24 Samba 517
25 LDAP 537
26 Printing 557
27 DHCP 573
28 Backups 585
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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2006

    Windows transition to Linux

    I'm guilty I've been a Windows user for the longest time. However, I've always wanted to experiment with Linux, but the difficulty of most installations and the configuration headaches were just too m uch for me. This book is an excellent way to get people transitioning from a Windows environment into Linux. Comparisons of Windows configurations and their counterparts in Linux are strewn throughout this book, and the amount of detail is very helpful. In all, this book is excellent. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2001

    From a Systems Admin learning Linux - get this one

    Having plowed thru many systems books, this is by far the most clear, accurate, useful. If you get just one, I recommend this. You might want more detail eventually, but start here, it'll take you miles with Red Hat, Mandrake, most distributions.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 7, 2001

    This book is a Godsend

    I never take the time to write reviews, although I read enough of them. After reading the first four chapters, I thought to myself 'I have to go online and tell people how great this book is'. It is. If your a beginner at linux or even have done a little more, this book is a great learning and reference tool. It's almost sick the way the author communicates to the reader with such ease. It seemed to me that every question I had was answered on the next page. If your looking for a book to learn linux (setup, maintain, administration, client/server networking), then this is the book to buy.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2001

    Good Book

    I bought this a few weeks before attending my one and only RH course to date (RH 253). Basically this book was far better than any of the supplied course notes, had more detail and has proved to be pretty much sound and accurate throughout whilst providing the required practical advice and info required without the rubbish.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 30, 2001

    Must have for console beginner...

    This is an excellent book for anyone who has installed Linux and dabbled with the file system, but is having a tough time taking the next step to make it productive and usable. Great for those sick of buying Linux books that show you how to play cards in KDE but don't show you how to *use* Linux to do what it does best. This author has clearly written documentation before. Clear an concise, and a little bit of everything I wanted to know. Great!

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