Books for learning system administration?

Started by Optimitron, Apr 12, 2023, 06:32 AM

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OptimitronTopic starter

Hello everyone, before I ask my question, I would like to discuss the topic of knowledge.

The author has experience working in technical support and as a field engineer conducting diagnostics and repairs on PCs and monoblocks, as well as dealing with software installations and remote diagnostics. They also have some familiarity with routers and video surveillance systems.

They are also proficient in disassembling, cleaning, and upgrading their own home PC, and have a basic understanding of the command line. However, they have limited experience in server administration, TCP/IP network protocols, and printers/MFPs.

Their ultimate question is whether their current level of knowledge is sufficient for a job as a sysadmin in a medium-sized office, and what further reading they should do to improve their skills. They have previously worked in a large office with clear divisions of duties and are comfortable with setting up and Googling information to solve problems.


Rather than recommending literature, I will provide an outline of the key areas of focus. Firstly, it is important to improve knowledge related to networks, including the organization and maintenance of local and geographically distributed networks.

This is best achieved by obtaining a job in an office with experienced administrators and completing specific tasks under their guidance. Secondly, databases are integral to all organizations, even those that may be unaware of their existence. As such, it is beneficial to have a basic understanding of database setup, backup, optimization, and SQL, with a focus on relational databases as they are the most commonly used in the corporate sector.

Finally, it is crucial to learn scripting languages for administrative tasks, starting with command shell languages such as cmd, powershell, and bash, and moving onto universal languages like Python. It is important to prioritize command-line administration tools as these are often the primary means of solving tasks.


If the office has 50-100 computers, it may not be effective. It is advised to find a workplace with at least 2-3 IT specialists to learn from.

It is recommended to read up on various resources such as Dnray, O'Reilly books, computer network theory, and Oliphers.

However, it is not necessary to have theoretical knowledge. Additionally, developing soft skills such as time management and psychology can be beneficial for a system administrator who may also need to exhibit the skills of a primary school teacher.


To improve your skills, attend interviews and continue practicing. Establish attainable goals for yourself and work towards them.
The book "System and Network Administration" by Thomas Limoncelli is a helpful resource that will provide valuable insight. Additionally, Goldratt's book and "The Phoenix Project" are both useful references for setting and achieving goals.


To improve your skills and knowledge in these areas, here are some suggestions:

1. Server Administration: Consider familiarizing yourself with server operating systems like Windows Server or Linux distributions. You can start by setting up a virtual lab environment to practice various administrative tasks and configurations. Additionally, reading books or online resources on server administration can provide you with valuable insights.

2. TCP/IP Network Protocols: Understanding TCP/IP protocols is crucial for managing networks. Familiarize yourself with concepts such as IP addressing, subnetting, routing, and DHCP. You can find books and online courses specifically tailored to TCP/IP networking.

3. Printers/MFPs: Explore the basics of networked printers and multifunction devices. Learn about printer drivers, network printing protocols (such as IPP or LPD), and common troubleshooting techniques for printer-related issues. Manufacturers often provide documentation and guides specific to their printer models.

In addition to these areas, staying up-to-date with industry trends and new technologies can also be beneficial. Consider joining online forums, participating in relevant communities, and attending webinars or conferences to expand your knowledge.

Remember that hands-on experience is invaluable, so try to gain practical experience whenever possible. You can set up your own home lab or seek opportunities to work on projects that allow you to apply the knowledge you've gained.

Lastly, don't underestimate the power of Googling information to solve problems. Being resourceful and having a problem-solving mindset are valuable traits for a sysadmin. Good luck in your journey to becoming a sysadmin!

There are several books that are highly recommended for learning system administration. Some popular options include:

1. "UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook" by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Trent R. Hein, and Ben Whaley: This book is considered the bible of system administration and covers a wide range of topics in-depth.

2. "The Practice of System and Network Administration" by Thomas A. Limoncelli, Christina J. Hogan, and Strata R. Chalup: This book provides practical advice on managing complex IT infrastructures and covers everything from troubleshooting to security.

3. "Windows Server Administration Fundamentals" by Microsoft Official Academic Course: If you are interested in Windows server administration, this book is a great starting point. It covers the basic concepts and techniques necessary to administer Windows Server environments.

4. "Linux Administration Handbook" by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Trent R. Hein, and Ben Whaley: Similar to the UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook, this book focuses specifically on Linux system administration.

5. "Site Reliability Engineering: How Google Runs Production Systems" edited by Betsy Beyer, Chris Jones, Jennifer Petoff, and Niall Richard Murphy: This book provides insights into Google's approach to system administration and covers topics like monitoring, incident response, and effective communication.

Here are a few more books that you might find helpful for learning system administration:

1. "Time Management for System Administrators" by Thomas A. Limoncelli: This book provides practical advice and techniques for managing time effectively in the fast-paced world of system administration.

2. "Network Warrior: Everything You Need to Know That Wasn't on the CCNA Exam" by Gary A. Donahue: This book focuses on network administration and covers topics like network design, troubleshooting, and security.

3. "Automate the Boring Stuff with Python" by Al Sweigart: While not specifically focused on system administration, this book teaches you how to automate tasks using Python, which can be incredibly valuable for a system administrator.

4. "Learning the Bash Shell" by Cameron Newham and Bill Rosenblatt: This book is a great resource for learning the basics of shell scripting with Bash, which is an essential skill for system administration.

5. "The Art of Monitoring" by James Turnbull: This book provides an in-depth guide to monitoring systems, covering different monitoring techniques, tools, and best practices.