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    Becoming a sysadmin


    Hi guys,

    Fresh around here, and had a peek at the sysadmin forums here, but couldn't find a general forum to post in, so I decided to come here. I'm looking to become a sysadmin (linux or otherwise) and have had some basic experience with the nature of the work (backups, distributing updates etc). The one thing I lack is the ability to program anything substantial, which I'll be working on over the breaks from uni.

    How did you guys get into the position you're in? What did you learn? Share you're experiences here.
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    Originally Posted by lysander
    Hi guys,

    Fresh around here, and had a peek at the sysadmin forums here, but couldn't find a general forum to post in, so I decided to come here. I'm looking to become a sysadmin (linux or otherwise) and have had some basic experience with the nature of the work (backups, distributing updates etc). The one thing I lack is the ability to program anything substantial, which I'll be working on over the breaks from uni.

    How did you guys get into the position you're in? What did you learn? Share you're experiences here.
    Went to school, took classes in my area, taught myself on my own.

    School isnt going to help in programming really. It will teach you the fundamentals of whatever is sort of popular at the moment, but trends change, so your best bet is to follow whats going on in the world and keep your skills current yourself.
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    Having been or been partially a SysAdmin now a few times I think I can give you some good feedback based on what I've done. System Administration can be quite a unique position because it can vary quite broadly depending on the size of your company and respective IT department. I've worked for all three styles now myself.

    My first job was more of a summer internship but I WAS the IT department. My boss only held the title because he was full-time and only received it because he was the youngest (at the time) person there and understood computers better because he'd just left college. There were about 40 PC users and half a dozen printers. I did everything from creating new accounts, to new PC rollouts, and all the networking.

    Next job was a medium sized business, about 150 PC users and was part of a 4-person IT staff. Each of us had our own specialty but helped take care of all other parts. PC's, Network, website, and servers were the four major areas for us.

    Now I work in a HUGE company where I'm part of a 2,000-some person IT staff. Different areas have whole teams and sub-teams for each critical task. E.g. there is a Networking group and within there there is a switching team and a routing team and a security team and so on.

    My point is that if your plan is to become a System Administrator, you will need to realize that you cannot just focus on one aspect of something, like website design/maintenance unless you want to limit yourself to only that position. If you work for smaller companies you'll have to know more about everything from networking to security to web sites to server/application hosting. To be honest there isn't much coding I've ever done. A few scripts here and there for batch files and scripts, but not much more. Then again, web design isn't my cup of tea at all.
    Adam TT
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    Generally speaking, Sys Admin is where you put the Peter-Principaled people.
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    The sys admins where I work are always asking the developers how to do such and such :|

    Comments on this post

    • sizablegrin agrees : Duly noted ;).
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    Originally Posted by AndyMNE
    The sys admins where I work are always asking the developers how to do such and such :|
    You had sysadms that asked?!?!?!

    The term is not well defined, as the three examples upthread show.

    I'm biased, I generally don't consider the PC support folks to be sysadmin, I reserve that to the geeks who manage the *nix servers and network. Mostly because Windows is so perfect, that managing Windows servers is not very challenging.

    I tend to think of sysadmins as the folks who manage the operation of public servers (web servers, application servers, name servers, etc.) but this may be so just because I work for dot.com firms.

    Comments on this post

    • Matt1776 agrees : I see ... I hadn't had any coffee yet ;0)
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    Because windows is so perfect??

    I hope by perfect you meant 'easy to use' and not 'reliable'

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    • fishtoprecords agrees : sarcasm detector not working today?
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    I hope by perfect you meant 'easy to use' and not 'reliable'
    My Windows box has been running since June of 2003, 24/7. It gets a reboot when some program that I've installed says I must restart and asks if I want to do that now.

    Aside from that I've restarted it maybe 20 times. The power goes out here about three times a year.

    Last year I had to replace the hard drive - it just quit (the sorry sumbitch). I have it in the freezer with hopes of recovering some one-of-a-kind stuff. It's been there since it crapped out. I haven't gotten around to trying the old adage that says a very cold, crapped out hard drive will give one a few last meaningful gasps.

    Exactly what did you mean by "reliable?" I've never owned an automobile that came close. The VW bug tried, but I was into that effer at least 4 times a year.
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    I suppose you make a point. Reliability means different things. In my daily line of work reliability is key - in the order of 24/7 transaction and/or general data processing. If for example, we had decided to use Windows servers in our industry, this would mean taking a literal drive out to each site where said server was having an issue and manually rebooting it ourselves, be it 2, 3, or 6 in the morning

    But if we're talking Photoshop then reliable takes a very different connotation.
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    @fishtoprecords

    The PC fixers/troubleshooters aren't in the sysadmin role, but the sysadmin can be in the PC role. Depends on if you have a junior admin or not. ( :
    Adam TT
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    Where I work, most people don't understand the difference between a sys admin and a developer. We are all just "comiputer geeks" and we do "computer things".
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    Originally Posted by misterdanny
    Where I work, most people don't understand the difference between a sys admin and a developer. We are all just "comiputer geeks" and we do "computer things".
    And then you have to explain to others why the "computer file" won't open on the "computer screen".
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    Originally Posted by AdamPI
    The PC fixers/troubleshooters aren't in the sysadmin role, but the sysadmin can be in the PC role. Depends on if you have a junior admin or not.
    Guess it depends on the company. No sysadmin in a dot.com that I was in would touch a PC.
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    Originally Posted by AdamPI
    Having been or been partially a SysAdmin now a few times I think I can give you some good feedback based on what I've done. System Administration can be quite a unique position because it can vary quite broadly depending on the size of your company and respective IT department. I've worked for all three styles now myself.

    My first job was more of a summer internship but I WAS the IT department. My boss only held the title because he was full-time and only received it because he was the youngest (at the time) person there and understood computers better because he'd just left college. There were about 40 PC users and half a dozen printers. I did everything from creating new accounts, to new PC rollouts, and all the networking.

    Next job was a medium sized business, about 150 PC users and was part of a 4-person IT staff. Each of us had our own specialty but helped take care of all other parts. PC's, Network, website, and servers were the four major areas for us.

    Now I work in a HUGE company where I'm part of a 2,000-some person IT staff. Different areas have whole teams and sub-teams for each critical task. E.g. there is a Networking group and within there there is a switching team and a routing team and a security team and so on.

    My point is that if your plan is to become a System Administrator, you will need to realize that you cannot just focus on one aspect of something, like website design/maintenance unless you want to limit yourself to only that position. If you work for smaller companies you'll have to know more about everything from networking to security to web sites to server/application hosting. To be honest there isn't much coding I've ever done. A few scripts here and there for batch files and scripts, but not much more. Then again, web design isn't my cup of tea at all.
    I think the first job you're describing most definitely fits the description of what I'm doing now at work. I enjoy it quite a bit but its mainly 30 windows xp's in a workgroup so nothing truly fancy for the time being. Definitely looking forward to more challenges ahead.

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