The goal of this chapter is to review system administration from the perspective of the individual hosts on a network. This chapter presumes that you have a basic understanding of system administration. Consequently, many of the more basic issues are presented in a very cursory manner. The intent is more to jog your memory, or to fill an occasional gap, than to teach the fundamentals of system administration. If you are new to system administration, a number of the books listed in Appendix B provide excellent introductions. If, on the other hand, you are a knowledgeable system administrator, you will probably want to skim or even skip this chapter.
Chapter 1 lists several reasons why you might not know the details of your network and the computers on it. This chapter assumes that you are faced with a networked computer and need to determine or reconstruct its configuration. It should be obvious that if you don’t understand how a system is configured, you will not be able to change its configuration or correct misconfigurations. The tools described in this chapter can be used to discover or change a host’s configuration.
As discussed in Chapter 1, if you have documentation for the system, begin with it. The assumption here is that such documentation does not exist or that it is incomplete. The primary focus is network configuration, but many of the techniques can easily be generalized.
If you have inherited a multiuser system that has been in service ...