Chapter 5. Essential System Management

If you’re running your own Linux system, one of the first tasks at hand is to learn the ropes of system administration. You won’t be able to get by for long without having to perform some kind of system maintenance, software upgrade, or mere tweaking to keep things in running order.

Running a Linux system is not unlike riding and taking care of a motorcycle.[11] Many motorcycle hobbyists prefer caring for their own equipment — routinely cleaning the points, replacing worn-out parts, and so forth. Linux gives you the opportunity to experience the same kind of “hands-on” maintenance with a complex operating system.

While a passionate administrator can spend any amount of time tuning it for performance, you really have to perform administration only when a major change occurs: you install a new disk, a new user comes on the system, or a power failure causes the system to go down unexpectedly. We discuss all these situations over the next four chapters.

Linux is surprisingly accessible, in all respects — from the more mundane tasks of upgrading shared libraries to the more esoteric, such as mucking about with the kernel. Because all the source code is available, and the body of Linux developers and users has traditionally been of the hackish breed, system maintenance is not only a part of daily life but also a great learning experience. Trust us: there’s nothing like telling your friends how you upgraded from XFree86 3.3.6 to XFree86 4.0.3 in ...

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