Sebastopol, CA--Although they're asked to diagnose highly technical problems, perform intricate surgery on hardware, and tend to software issues, system administrators don't get the credit they deserve. At least, that's the view of Robbie Allen, a longtime veteran of Windows administration and prolific author of many insightful articles and books on the subject, including his latest volume, Windows Server Cookbook (O'Reilly US $49.95).
"System administrators are the unsung heroes of the IT revolution," Allen asserts. "There are thousands of programs, tools, commands, screens, scripts, buttons, tabs, applets, menus, and settings that Windows administrators in particular need to know about and understand if they are to do their job." And, as most Windows administrators learn quickly, the difficult part is not in using the tools, he says, but knowing which ones are best for various tasks.
"It's hard to remember every nook and cranny of Windows Server," Allen says. "Both Server 2003 and Windows 2000 have been out for a while, and most administrators no longer need a tutorial. What they do need is a quick reference to help them get specific tasks done. My book lets them free up some brain cells by providing an easy reference they can go to when they're stuck."
Windows Server Cookbook offers hundreds of solutions to common problems that system administrators are likely to face in their daily management of Microsoft's latest servers. Beginners and advanced users alike will find troubleshooting recipes with step-by-step instructions for solving tasks from configuring the system to dealing with the registry, files, event logs, the Domain Name System (DNS), DHCP server, security, backup/restore, and more. Each recipe includes a discussion that explains how and why it works, along with references to other solutions in the book that may apply.
"There are plenty of books that go into detail about the theory behind a particular technology or application. But what if an administrator knows the theory but just can't--or doesn't want to--remember the exact command line or graphical sequence to configure an application? Very few books cut through the fluff and provide only the essentials for getting the job done. This book is intended to do just that."
With Windows 2000, Microsoft introduced an operating system for servers that was much more scalable and manageable than Windows NT. Windows Server 2003 is an even more mature platform, "that supports all of the major information technology services that administrators need to run a business or organization," Allen points out. But you can't get all of this capability wrapped up into a single OS without some tradeoffs.
"To take full advantage of Windows 2000 or Server 2003," Allen explains, "administrators have to know lots of gory technical details." Such as how to navigate through hundreds of dialogs and menus, which command-line utilities are available and where to find them, and what scripting interfaces are available to automate tasks in order to keep support costs low. "I've been doing Windows system administration for eight years and I still have a difficult time recalling the correct tool or command or scripting interface for certain tasks."
Based on his own experience, hours of research, and years of involvement with newsgroups and mailing lists, Allen compiled over 300 recipes for Windows Server Cookbook. Along with solutions for general administration duties, the book includes dedicated chapters on many of the services that administrators will end up running, such as Internet Information Services 6.0 (IIS) web server, Active Directory, and Exchange Server. And because different administrators prefer to work in different ways, Allen's recipes offer up to three specific solutions using GUI tools, the command-line interface, and scripts using VBScript that can be converted to Perl or Visual Basic easily.
The purpose of the book is simple, Allen says: to save a Windows administrator hours of searching through documentation or a knowledge base. "In the past couple of years, Microsoft's documentation has actually been more of a help than a hindrance," he contends. "But it still isn't enough. What Windows system administrators really need are quick and easy ways to find what they need to get the job done."
Early praise for Windows Server Cookbook:
"What do you get when you bring a bunch of Microsoft MVPs together who want Windows admins to be effective and competent with basic Windows Server 2003 management? This cookbook has recipes touching on nearly every aspect of Windows Server 2003, a must-have for any discerning Windows Server 2003 chef."
--Joe Richards, Microsoft Directory Services MVP
"Authored by a well-known and respected member of the Windows technical community who actually uses many of the tools and techniques that he writes about, the information is clear, concise, and useful. I can give it no higher compliment than 'useful.' So many books discuss the theory and 'maybe' and 'perhaps'--this book provides tools and techniques to get the job done."
--Michael B. Smith, Microsoft Exchange Server MVP
"You need a book like this. Robbie has done a fantastic job of identifying common Windows management tasks, investigating the tools available for those tasks, figuring out how to get the most out of them, testing them in real-world environments, and serving it to you in a no-nonsense reference. This book will save you precious time that will reimburse your investment in it many times over."
--Mark Russinovich, co-founder of Wininternals Software and creator of the Sysinternals web site
Windows Server Cookbook
ISBN: 0-596-00633-0, 670 pages, $49.95 US, $62.95 CA
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