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I've been given a dedicated server. Unfortunately, I have no idea what to do / how to manage it. I have background in many fields on Computer Science but never got to focus on networking, server management, etc.

What I'm asking is for recommended books, Basically, I would like to be able to be proficient and understand well how to manage domain names, zones, setting up mail servers, being able to install easily any web server, and such. Everything needed for proper server management through the shell.

I will probably stick with Parallels, or Cpanel for a bit. But I dislike those, especially how it add a lot of intruding user accounts and configs on the file system.

Thank you

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4 Answers 4

To be honest, I believe system administration is an all or nothing game. I would be asking myself questions similar to:

  1. Is this server of critical importance to the success (of the business/organization/service your trying to provide) ?
  2. Can you commit significant resources (time, money, effort) to managing this machine?

If you can answer yes to both, then I would probably suggesting reading something similar to:

The Practice of System and Network Administration, Second Edition (ISBN: 0321492668)

This book is an awesome read on "big picture" concepts whilst typically remaining operating system agnostic. Once you are all over this book you can look into OS specific resources. I say this primarily as most people in the CompSci game can read manuals and work out how commands work. Getting the principals right in mind before making changes is of uptmost importance for long-term system maintainability, reliability and longevity.

Alternatively, If you answer yes to 1 and no to 2 then you're probably going to be better off getting someone specific for this purpose or even outsourcing the on-going management of the server an company which specializes in this area.

Another option which may be more cost effective (depending on what services you're running on the machine) would be to simply move the hosting accounts to virtual hosting environment where the on-going server management is taking care of by a third party. This obviously has the draw-backs that you're going to co-exist in a shared environment with other customers on the same machine which will naturally diminish your control over the environment. This may or may not be a viable solution.

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RUTE

And the documentation for the distro on the server. Try cat /etc/issue for a hint.

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The Practice of Systems and Network Administration is one of the most fundamental books for the field.

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For DNS, the best book for novice-to-professionals is: 'Pro DNS and Bind' by Ron Aitchison.

For Sys Admin, well, there are a lot of books and it depends on what you need first. Start with what you are working on and get the book on that. O'Reilly series has some great books on sys admin.

-N

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