Unix update: New columnists, new tools

This Unix resource guide includes tutorials on GNU Screen and Solaris performance tuning, tips on migrating legacy apps to virtual machines, and some brass-tacks career advice for system administrators.

This guide to Unix rounds up our most current resources on all things Unix, from articles on tools like GNU Screen, file system snapshots and Solaris performance tuning; tips on migrating legacy applications to virtual machines; security and the Year 2038 problem; and career advice on honing you skills as a system administrator.

Over the past six months, SearchDataCenter.com has invested in its Unix coverage by bringing on some of the best Unix experts in the field, including Bill Bradford of SunHelp, David Douthitt of Unix Adminstratosphere and Ben Rockwood of CuddleTech.

These authors have written tips on everything from system performance to system administrator job advice. We've collected the best recent columns here along with a round up of recent Unix systems and server news.

Unix admin skills overview
Douthitt, a Unix book author and blogger, wrote two articles on career advancement for system administrators. In the first column, Douthitt outlines the top skills a Unix administrator should hone to become more valuable to his company and on the job market. Communication skills, the ability to deal with customer service issues and write clear documentation, and networking with other professional contacts are high on the list. The column recommends areas of focus for various technologies. In the second column, Douthitt lists recommended reading for sys admins

Build your Unix chops with free tools
Recent technical content includes a tutorial on how to use GNU Screen. GNU Screen enables you to have multiple terminal sessions running in a single window or serial console session without a graphical user interface (GUI). For the past twelve years, GNU Screen has been part of Bradford's system administrator toolkit; you should make it part of yours. You can download the tool from the Free Software Foundation. What about the IPMI (Intelligent Platform Management Interface) specification -- do you use it? Do you know how? In his IPMI tutorial Rockwood walks you through this free tool's most useful features.

Other reference material includes the following:

Unix security vulnerabilities
The Danish consulting firm Secunia recently ranked Unix operating system vulnerabilities, covering Solaris 10, HP-UX 11 and AIX 5. Australia-based analyst firm, Ideas International Inc. recently released a Unix scorecard, which graded various operating systems on security and stability, among other criteria. While most Unix vulnerabilities were minor, one major security issue looms: the Year 2038 problem. Bradford outlines the origins of the problem and explains how vendors recommend you deal with the issue – which you'll need to do sometime between now and the next 30 years.

Leveraging legacy IT with virtualization
Speaking of age-old problems, our sister site SearchServerVirtualization.com has delved into the issue of migrating legacy applications to virtual machines to maximize the benefits of new hardware. Learn how to retain older programs and preserve IT investments by migrating to a virtual environment with either binary virtualized re-hosting or binary cross-platform re-hosting. Check out these two columns from an independent analyst at Linux Pundit,, Bill Weinberg.

SearchDataCenter.com is working to meet your needs. Let us know what kind of Unix content you would like to see. This is just the beginning of more significant Unix coverage from SearchDataCenter.com, and we'd like you to shape the direction of our content. If you would like to participate, identify trends we haven't covered or offer suggestions, email Matt Stansberry, Senior Site Editor.

Additional Unix resources
Admin's Choice
Articles and related links for Unix and Solaris administrators.
The Advanced Computing Systems Association (Usenix)
Offers association membership, user forums, event information and research on Unix.
The Linux and Unix Menagerie
A site dedicated to perfecting Linux and Unix programming languages.
MySysAd Blog
The MySysAd blog covers Unix system administration how-to tips.
Unix Realm
A comprehensive Unix warehouse of resources.
Unix Tutorials, Security and System Admin
The site offers a wealth of tips and how-tos on installation, administration and security.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Matt Stansberry, Senior Site Editor. You can also check out our Server Specs blog.

This was first published in July 2008

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