UNIX System Administration


LiveFire Labs' UNIX System Administration course will teach you the fundamentals of administering a server running the UNIX operating system.

Hands-on lab exercises are used to reinforce key concepts, and are completed by logging in on a real server in our Internet Lab from your work or home computer.

Each student who takes this course is assigned to a dedicated lab server so that modifications to system level files and server reboots performed while taking the course do not impact other students.

You will also be granted root account ("root") and console-level access to your assigned lab system. Connecting to the server's console enables you to perform and monitor low-level system administration tasks, such as system reboots, remotely from your work or home computer without being disconnected from the server when its TCP/IP networking services are stopped and restarted during the shutdown and boot process.

  1. Getting Started
  2. The root (superuser) Account
  3. Booting and Shutting Down
  4. Disk Structures and Partitions
  5. Hardware Devices and Drivers
  6. The UNIX Filesystem
  7. Process Control
  8. Adding and Removing Users
  9. Adding Hardware
  10. UNIX System Logging
  11. Communicating with Users
  12. Periodic Jobs
  13. Backups and Archiving
Getting Started

Welcome to LiveFire Labs' hands-on UNIX System Administration training course! This first module will briefly discuss why it's important for you to know how to manage a system using the command line interface, provide you with an introduction to the lab environment, and teach you how to connect to the console of your assigned lab system.

- Why learn using the command line?
- Working with your dedicated lab system
- Remote console connection to your lab system

The root (superuser) Account

This module will discuss how to become the root user, and the responsibilities that come with being root. An overview of sudo, a popular system administration tool, is included at the end of the module.

- Becoming root
- With root comes responsibility
- Other system user accounts
- The sudo program

Booting and Shutting Down

Most of this module discusses the Unix boot process - the sequence of events that brings a system up by its bootstraps. Guidelines for shutting down and rebooting the system correctly, along with a brief overview of common boot problems are included at the end of the module.

- Steps in the boot process
- The /etc/inittab File
- Overview of the startup scripts
- Shutdown, reboot, and halt
- Common boot problems

Disk Structures and Partitions

This module is a discussion of basic concepts regarding disks - their tracks, cylinders, sectors, and partitions.

- Disks - tracks, cylinders, and sectors
- Disk partitions

Hardware Devices and Drivers

This module provides a brief introduction to how Unix handles devices and device files. The various versions of Unix all seem to do things just a little differently in this area, especially when it comes to device names. System administrators need to be conscious of this fact if they work with multiple versions of the Unix operating system.

- Device naming in Unix - device files
- Device naming in Unix - naming conventions
- Partitions
- Creating partitions
- The disk label
- Boot blocks

The UNIX Filesystem

This module contains an in depth discussion of the Unix filesystem. It covers the physical layout of the disk, as well as the basic building block - the inode. Several of the commands needed to create and administer a filesystem are also covered.

- Filesystem components - the boot and super blocks
- Filesystem components - the inode
- Filesystem components - the data block
- Filesystem commands - newfs, du, and quot
- Filesystem commands - mount
- Filesystem commands - fsck

Process Control
Everything that happens in Unix is a process. This module covers what a process is, how to determine what processes are running on a system, and how to control them.

- Processes - what are they, PIDs, owner and group
- Process information
- Processes and signals

Adding and Removing Users

The adding and removal of system users can consume a large percentage of a system administrator's time. This module covers the system files that store user account information, the basic concepts of what needs to happen when a new user is added to the system, and the commands used to add and remove users.

- The /etc/passwd file
- The /etc/group file
- Adding a user
- The useradd command
- Removing a user

Adding Hardware

This module is a brief overview of hardware concepts and what are some things to consider when adding new hardware to a system. Since it is not possible to cover each piece of hardware for every version of Unix, this module is intentionally generic - but informative nonetheless.

- New hardware devices

UNIX System Logging

Unix tends to log a TON of information. This is actually a good thing because logging is a powerful tool for a system administrator in his efforts to make the system run smoothly and as trouble-free as possible. This module will discuss how the Unix logging system works, and how to customize its configuration.

- General Unix log files
- syslog and syslogd
- syslog.conf
- logger

Communicating with Users

Knowing how to communicate with users is essential for a system administrator. This module covers a variety of methods for accomplishing this task.

- Communicating with users - email, wall, and write
- Communicating with users - talk and /etc/motd

Periodic Jobs

There are times when certain tasks need to be performed at a specific time in the future or on a re-occurring basis. Unix provides the capability to accomplish both of these using either the "at" command or the cron daemon. This module discusses both of these tools and their uses.

- The at command
- The cron and crontab commands

Backups and Archiving

This module covers the concepts for performing backups and archiving data on a Unix system. Several Unix utilities are discussed as well as some of the strengths and weaknesses of each.

- Why backup the system?
- Backup devices - tape drives, CDROMs, disk drives
- Backing up the system - developing a strategy
- Backing up the system - cpio
- Backing up the system - dump
- Backing up the system - pax, tar, and dd


Completion of our UNIX and Linux Operating System Fundamentals and Korn Shell Scripting courses, or an understanding of the concepts covered in both courses is required.

Course Duration

You will have access to the online course content and Internet Lab system for 2 weeks (24/7). The access period for this course is shorter than the other courses because you will be using a dedicated lab server that is not shared with other students.

Course / Lab Support

Your "Getting Started" email will contain the name and email address of your assigned LiveFire Labs training specialist, who will check in with you shortly after you start the course to find out how things are going and to see if you have any questions. You can also email your training specialist, who is an experienced UNIX technologist, whenever you have questions about the course material or hands-on lab exercises.

Getting Started

Follow the registration steps below if you are ready to learn UNIX system administration, or contact us with any questions you may have. You can optionally check our FAQ for answers to common questions or view our Testimonials page to read what previous students think about our online courses and Internet Lab.