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Open Source Network Administration

© December 2003 Bruce Garlock
December 2003

Amazon Order (or just read more about) Open Source Network Administration  from Amazon.com

Operating Systems: Solaris, and Linux tested, but should be fine on all *nix's
Skill level: Beginner to Intermediate

The title to this book sounded interesting, so I decided to purchase it. The book covers several different Open Source tools, and I was pleased to find that the author picked a few of them that I use to manage my network. Many tools for monitoring, and troubleshooting networks are included; Sysmon, Oak, Neo, MRTG, tcpdump, netstat, traceroute, etc.. are all covered. I have personally been using Sysmon for several years now, and find it to be an easy to use system monitoring program. The author does a nice job of explaining how to configure Sysmon, and also offers an alternative if Sysmon is not enough for your network. In this case, he recommends Nagios. In fact, the author tends to recommend alternative tools for each section of the book, which I found useful.

The author tends to repeat himself while explaining how to gunzip, untar, and run the ./configure, make, and make install for each source package, which may be nice for beginners, but tends to be a little repetitive for more experienced admins. There are also some beginner chapters on writing shell, and perl code to glue all the tools together. Fundamental shell scripting is explained in detail, with easy to understand examples for beginners. The author also touches on some basics of regular expressions. Kretchmar uses an easy to understand style of writing, and always offers additional information for further study. I also had no trouble using the Index, when trying to locate specific information. If you are currently a network admin, or a junior admin, I highly recommend this book. Depending on your network infrastructure, I'm sure you will find a tool in here that is as capable as an expensive commercial product, or more capable than the commercial products available.

I have always been drawn to Open Source because of the endless learning that is possible with the source code, and the inspiration you receive when you have the ability to dig in deep and learn about how things happen. With the tools covered in this book, and some intuition, you could easily build a commercial grade network monitoring system, that exceeds the features of commercially available software.

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