Back On Task

Well, I’ve been studying off and on, but mostly off. I hate to admit it but I don’t have a very good excuse. Well, technically I guess it’s a pretty good one depending on your point of view. My son thinks it’s pretty good. 🙂 We’ve been playing Wii Indiana Jones once I sign off from work and I haven’t felt like playing computer.

indyThe good news is that we’re getting a lot better at figuring out what we have to do to find all the coins, minkits, etc. The bad news is that we each have our own ideas for what we need to do and end up working against each other rather than together. I should probably be a little less uptight about racking up the points and live more through the eyes of a 9-year-old.

But enough with that. This week I’ve been playing around with something new and I have to say that I’m pretty pleased so far. Thanks to StackSocial, I’m enjoying a 30-day trial of Linux Academy. I’m actually working through the LPIC 101 course right now. I am anxiously awaiting the arrival of the RHCSA 7 course but I’m not sure when in April it’ll go live.


One of the coolest features is that you can create up to four test servers. Now I really don’t need this, but it’s pretty awesome because it lets you choose from so many distros. If I were to do this on my own CentOS host I’d have to eat a lot of disk space with ISO images and spend a lot of time creating new virtual machines. I’m also in the midst of a Digital Ocean trial (more about that in a future post). DO makes it incredibly fast and easy to create new servers within seconds but it’s an additional expense. These test servers are all part of your $25/mo payment.

As you can see by the previous screenshot I’ve logged into my primary server via ssh and it’s running Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.5. This is of particular interest to me since that’s the exact version we’ll be upgrading our work servers to within the month. Since I’m in trial mode I can only create a single server but the most common distros are available. This is real handy for studying the differences between distros (eg package managers, etc.) In addition to easily picking a new distro, you can also easily change the type of server you’re using.



I’m only on day two of my trial but I’m very impressed with the features/functionality and the materials so far. You can expect a more detailed review in the future.


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sed & awk


One of the tasks I find myself doing a lot these days is reviewing web and application logs. Working in a Windows environment with a product responsible for literally billions of transactions each year it’s difficult if not impossible to do this. A single days’ log can easily exceed the capabilities of many Windows text editors and those that can manage it aren’t as fast as Unix tools.

I don’t have a huge need for sed, the Unix stream editor, but I make extensive use of awk. grep is also another tool that plays an important role in my toolbox. Since awk and grep both make use of regular expressions it was nice to find a chapter dedicated to the subject.

There are three chapters dedicated to sed and four geared towards awk. Each utility also has its own quick-reference guide.

The book hasn’t been updated in some time (pre-2000) but let’s face it, not a whole lot changes with basic Unix functionality. I found the examples to be concise and well-suited to helping me grasp the concepts. The material goes much deeper than what I need for my daily tasks but it’s nice to know that a lot of power is at my fingertips should I need it.

If you’re new to ‘nix system administration or like me and trying to clear off the dust this is a great reference book. Grab a copy!

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RHCSA/RHCE Study Guide


This is my chosen text for my Red Hat cert. I’ve made it through chapter 4 so far and I’ll update this as I make progress. Unfortunately, while it appears to be a good text for the most part I do concur with a number of negative comments from Amazon and other sites.

Things do seem a bit disjointed. I find myself skipping forward and back again trying to set things up. For example, you’re expected to set the virtual machines up before you learn how to set them up. I do like the general layout and the exam and real-world tips that are broken out of the main text. I’m not put off by the issues enough to knock the book.

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