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  1. #1

    How can I learn System Administrating?

    I like to learn how to do sysadmining but I have no place to do it. I use a laptop as my computer and most server distos don't have wireless and I can't do anything remotely as it needs to be on in order to do it. I can't spend any money as money is tight right now.

    Does anyone have any ideas on how I can practice?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Citrus Heights, CA
    Spend a few bucks on a VPS.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2004
    SF Bay Area
    Quote Originally Posted by Simfan147 View Post
    Does anyone have any ideas on how I can practice?
    I'd see if you can run a server OS - CentOS, etc. - in a virtual machine on your laptop. VirtualBox is free. You should be able to load the VM through the OSes' installer ISO or there may be a virtual image of the OS available already.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Indiana, USA
    VirtualBox is excellent for testing/learning imho.

    I just learned mostly by running Gentoo/Debian on my desktop over the years.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2008
    The best way to start is to learn hands on. Purchase a 'cheap' yet reliable VPS (Virtual Private Server) and start learning. Google articles and try different methods. WHT is a great tool and by reading the forums daily and asking questions you will be able to obtain knowledge and skills that will last you a lifetime. Best of luck!
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  6. #6
    It is better spend few bucks for the VPS now then waste a lot of time for this stuff in the future

  7. #7
    Getting a cheap unmanaged VPS from will help you to learn lot about the server administration, securing the server and installation of any application on the server. You will learn lot from it about system administration.
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  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Athens, Greece
    A local virtual machine is the best solution (like microsoft virtualPC) - when you have learned enough, you can order a very cheap vps so to test everything "live".
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  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Cluj Napoca
    I would ask about why do you want to learn to be a "system administrator" ?
    This takes a long time and it depends on what and how much you want to learn.
    Did you had any contact with linux or windows from the administrative part or did you just heared rummors that this brings good money ?
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  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    There are several ways to go around doing this. Being a sysadmin is not an easy job - it isn't something that can be accomplished overnight. It takes a lot of patience and trial and error. But you will reap what you sow one day - the knowledge of system administration.

    To answer your question: Well, as I said there are several methods to go around doing this. It really depends on what you want to administrate. Windows? Linux? Its all up to you. You can start by practicing system admin tasks on your computer - a year of using Linux for me has taught me a lot of things about Linux system administration. You can also use an emulator if you want to for example, administrate Linux but are lazy to install Linux, and you have Windows.

    If you want to go beyond that and go into the world of being a server admin in the web hosting world, start off with an affordable, unmanaged Windows or Linux VPS. Practice is the key here! You have to keep trying new things and practicing using the command line (thats how most if not all VPSes and dedicated servers are controlled).

    Practice, practice, practice. One day you will be a system administrator that knows his kicks. You don't need no classes - maybe some books, but doing it yourself is the best way to get experience. - Quality Hosting. Affordable Prices.
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  11. #11
    I have found openvz to work very well and light on resources -- it could probably run just fine on your laptop.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    I would find a company locally and work for free a few days a week with a professional.

    You will learn more in one day with that person and more importantly understand it too...than any other way.

    Lots of books, lots of mailing lists, and just a lot of tinkering.

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by programguy View Post
    You will learn more in one day with that person and more importantly understand it too...than any other way.

    Agree with that 100% -- I did an internship and I couldn't belief the wealth of knowledge they opened me up too, especially with open source tools I had never heard of before.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep 2004

    You can use Virtual machine like VMware and test out the things.
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  15. #15
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Install VMware server as others suggested on your laptop.
    Download some ISO files for a server OS you want to play with and start learning.
    I second the job shadowing idea. That is a great way to learn.

    Job shadowing in your early stages and tinkering is the best way to learn. It takes years to just get started and you will always be in a learning stage.

  16. #16

    Re: How can I learn System Administration?

    1) Get a scratch/learning Linux system. Your xeon system is probably all set up just the way you want it. My recommendation is find a piece of junk, or better if you like, and make that a learning system, and don't keep anything that means anything to you on that system. Then, you won't feel badly when you delete something un-important.

    2) Find a real project, even if you have to invent it. sysadmin comes in many flavours, depending on what you are required to do (networking, installation, application configuration, programming, and system integration, to mention only a few). Shell scripting seems to be in the foundation of all these things.

    3) I have many good books. But a lot of commands (nice, fsck, and so on) show up in a lot of web sites, well documented. seems to have very good command explanations as well as techniques like prepping a new disk. The Ubuntu forums also have very good tutorials.

    A good book on shell-scripting (bash or korn) would also probably be helpful. As much as people seem to hate it, my O'Reilly vi pocket guide is near by. I have to maintain a lot of Linux systems, RH 9, RH EL, Ubuntu and SCO. I can count on vi on all these systems. Knowing command line emacs also would not hurt, but you can always count on vi, which is probably why it winds up in cert exams.

    4) Please don't cringe, but never underestimate the power of doing some work for free, even volunteering. I was unemployed almost four years ago, wanted to do work for free to keep my resume busy, and was asked to apply for the job I presently have.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Austin Tx
    Many of these methods will work...
    Since you are learning, and to not limit yourself and get rooted (pun intended) into certain distros, you could get 1-2 VPSs from some that offer really cheap plans (, etc), and that also have a VPS control panel where you can reload the OS with any flavor and as many times as you wish. That feature is great for learning, making mistakes and recovering.

    VMWare server on your laptop / workstation, you can run all the distros you want, provided you have space, and even save snapshots in time before you do something "new" and possibly destructive. Reloading a whole OS is a lot slower than rebuilding a VPS, but with time, that won't be an issue. It will also allow you to load distros that many providers don't carry, for the most part.... *BSD, OpenSolaris, etc.

    If you have a machine with some good disk space, even if it's low specs, you could install OpenVZ, download templates, and go crazy doing your own *nix network at home
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  18. #18
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Please think carefully about what you are doing before trying to jump into a career as a sysadmin. Get some proper career guidance and speak to some people in the industry about what they like and dislike about it.

    After some years you might not find it as glamourous as you do right now.

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Get an old PC at home and play around with linux.
    Or get a small VPS, they way I learnt.
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  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    I personally bought a little Celeron PC that I installed CentOS on, and I still use it as a test machine.
    Last edited by GarrettReardon; 08-01-2009 at 10:33 AM.
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  21. #21
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Indiana, USA
    The best way to learn System Administration is by doing - but I wouldn't do it in a production environment from the start. As others have suggested get a small/junky/old computer and mess around with it

    You may find it's a tad more difficult than you imagined however.
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