Recommend a good book on Debian administration?

I'm learning about administration and trying to find a good guide to get me up to speed. Most of the books on Amazon have bad reviews, even the O'Reilly book and offical server guides and "bibles".

The main complaint seems to be that they are not thorough enough and go over much of the same material as other books. I'm looking for something comprehensive that I can use for a more conveinant reference than the internet and also something that will give me ideas about things I should be doing such as what to look for in log files, etc.

I was thinking of ordering The Debian System: Concepts and Techniques or The Ubuntu Linux Toolbox. Anyone familiar with these? I'm also looking for something cheap, hopefully. Even if it is for earlier versions of Debian. As long as it gives me a solid foundation.

3 Replies

If you want cheap, just stick to the Internet and use the documentation provided by both Linode and the Debian Wiki. The latter has three sections geared toward administrators:

1. System Administration

2. Network

3. Command Line Interface

It is extremely difficult to put together any publication (let alone a printed one) which can simultaneously:

1. Be comprehensive

2. Be detailed

3. Address your chosen distro

4. Be up-to-date

The UNIX and Linux Administration Handbook (RIP, Evi) manages the first two, tries for the third by covering multiple systems, but has difficulty meeting the fourth. (Any printed material will have trouble with #4.) It is not exactly written as an entry-level book, but there is lots of useful detail squirreled away in there for intermediate-level admins.

Although I have not read the whole thing (and only have a previous edition), A Practical Guide to Ubuntu Linux actually seems to do very well on 1, 2, and 3. It is more accessible for the beginner. The two downsides as far as you are concerned are that it targets Ubuntu, not Debian, and is a few years out of date. Nevertheless, you may find it worthwhile and just have to fill in the gaps and differences using online resources.

In my experience, the best predictor of the usefulness of a printed book is its author. If you can get your hands on one of their books (say, from a library) you'll have a good idea of whether their writing style and approach is a match for you. Don't assume that books from a specific publisher will be good: even O'Reilly and Sams put out some stinkers.


The UNIX and Linux Administration Handbook (RIP, Evi)….

Wow, I hadn't heard about Evi until now. :( I think I might need to pick up that book as more of a sentimental thing than actually using it in-depth. I remember having looked at bits and pieces of the third edition as a kid getting in to Linux.

Sorry for thread hijack.



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