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10 Essential Linux System Administration Books for both Newbies and Experienced

If you are a newbie in Linux system administration, or an experienced Linux power user, who does typical sysadmin tasks by yourself on your system, you’ll definitely find few books from this list helpful to add to your library.

  1. UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Trent R. Hein, Ben Whaley. During my early days of system administration, I’ve referred this book frequently. This is pretty detailed book with more than 1200 and 30 chapters that are nicely grouped together in three high level sections — Basic Administration, Networking and Bunch O’ Stuff. If you can afford to buy only one book from this list, this should be it.
  2. Essential System Administration, by Æleen Frisch. While this book is bit outdated, this is still one of the great book for sysadmins, as the concepts mentioned here for administration are still the same. This book covers all the typical system administration tasks. This is a perfect companion when you are dealing with multiple flavors of Unix, as it has examples for AIX, FreeBSD, HP-UX, Linux, Solaris and Tru64. I’ve used the pocket version of this book — Essential System Administration Pocket Reference, when I was managing multiple flavors of Unix systems at the same time.
  3. The Practice of System and Network Administration, by Thomas Limoncelli, Christina Hogan, Strata Chalup. This book is not specially about Linux sysadmin, but this is an essential book for all administrators. If you are planning to enter into sysadmin field, this will help you to grasp various aspects that a typical sysadmin needs to understand. This is close to 1000 pages with around 36 chapters. The foundation elements section whichi talks about servers, datacenters, networks is helpful. There is a dedicated section for change process that talks about change management, maintenance windows, debugging, etc.
  4. Pro Linux System Administration, by James Turnbull, Peter Lieverdink, Dennis Matotek. While the title says “Pro”, this is a very good book for those who are new to Linux sysadmin. There are dedicated chapters that explains in details about postfix mail server, file and print sharing, networking with VPN, LDAP. For the newbies, the chapters on performance monitoring and optimization, logging and monitoring, configuration management are very essential. This book is around 1000 pages with 20 chapters.
  5. Linux System Administration, by Tom Adelstein, Bill Lubanovic. This book covers all the typical Linux sysadmin tasks and explains them with practical examples. But, this book focus on Debian system administration. I really think this book title should be “Debian System Administration”. So, if you are planning to manage Debian system, and don’t have much clue on how to do it, this book will help you out.
  6. Automating System Administration with Perl, by David N. Blank-Edelman. I write lot of bash script for typical administration tasks. But, when a bash script is not sufficient, the next best thing I’ve found is Perl. Perl has tons of modules available through cpan.org, which can be used to make your sysadmin job very easy and enjoyable. If you have some experience in Linux sysadmin already, and like to take it up to the next level by automating both simple and complex jobs, this book is for you.
  7. The Visible Ops Handbook, by Kevin Behr, Gene Kim, George Spafford. If you are part of IT infrastructure operations (which includes all administrators), you should definitely have a solid process for change management and release process. Instead of inventing your own process, it is better to adopt an industry standard process such as ITIL process by Information Technology Infrastructure Library. This book is especially helpful if you are running a mission critical application that needs a tight change management, release process, and issue resolution process.
  8. Automating Linux and Unix System Administration, by Nathan Campi, Kirk Bauer. If you have managing multiple servers, you don’t want to be performing the routine maintenance tasks on all these servers separately. Instead, you need multiple utilities and tools as described in this book to manage multiple services effectively. Keep in mind that the main focus of the book is on CFEngine.
  9. Python for Unix and Linux System Administration, by Noah Gift, Jeremy Jones. If you are an experienced sysadmin, who likes to use Python to write scripts to perform your typical sysadmin activities, this book will give you a great jumpstart. You don’t need to know Python to read this book. This books teaches you the fundamental of Python programming, and explains how you can use it to perform sysadmin activities.
  10. Linux Firewalls, by Michael Rash. Security is a complex and huge part of Linux system administration. This book talks about all the essential Linux firewall related tools including iptables, psad, fwsnort. The great thing about this book is that it explains clearly how you can use IPTables to create an intrusion detection and prevention system on your systems. This book is definitely not for newbies. But, if you an experienced sysadmin, and already knows some fundamentals of IPTables, but like to take it to the next level, you should definitely get this book.
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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Jalal Hajigholamali January 29, 2014, 1:45 am

    Thanks a lot
    very useful references…

  • Andrea M January 29, 2014, 4:38 am

    So useful!
    You’re doing such a great job with TGS, thank a lot Ramesh 🙂

  • Daniel January 29, 2014, 9:20 am

    Thanks for sharing, great article.

  • cybernard January 30, 2014, 8:42 pm

    Referring to Book 10
    Its a real shame that books on firewalls don’t go completely miss useful tools and/or options that exist for iptables.

    It completely ignores ipset which is very useful for long white/black lists.
    iptables has a bunch of -m which are use full but never even touched on. They are given basic coverage on netfilter.org but no real world uses of them.

  • Ramon February 1, 2014, 12:19 am

    Thank you so much!!!
    you help me so much with these books reference.

  • Biswajit February 1, 2014, 3:53 am

    Thanks for sharing the list of books for Linux system administration 🙂

  • Anonymous February 3, 2014, 9:07 am

    Learning computer staff from books is outdated. When I need something I just go and search on Google, I never open a book. Google is the greatest book out there (besides the Universe itself).

  • Vonskippy February 4, 2014, 3:34 pm

    #10 is vastly outdated – never a good thing for security books.

    I’d add “Linux Command Line and Shell Scripting Bible by Richard Blum. Very useful at getting your script-fu on.

  • mike muecke February 5, 2014, 7:41 pm

    looking for a good book on wine install and use I am a gamer and would like to run my games in linux under wine I have several machines with linux mint 15 I recently was able to put the proprietary driver in for my pci16 video card under the driver icon in linux mint .Must be connected to internet to get download when doing this