Becoming a SysAdmin

Yes, that’s right, for the past three months I have had the dubious honor of being the system administrator at work (as well as everything else I usually have to do).

Having completed the system setup I have recently been playing around with it, tweaking it here and there. This last week I came across some tools that sound pretty cool and I thought I give a brief review of my experiences with them.

First in the line is a website called “Enterprise Networking Planet“. They post really great articles on various computer issues and they have an RSS feed so that you can monitor the site for new articles easily. The articles can be just interesting reading, such as the latest one (at the time of writing): “Intel Pushes Fibre Channel Over Ethernet via Linux“. On the other hand, they also write short but very informative articles on sysadmin and other computer issues, tips and tricks. These articles are typically no more than 2 pages making for easy reading and they are just enough to get you started with a new tool or idea that you didn’t know much about or even didn’t know existed. Then they provide links to the serious information if you want to know more. As a newbie sysadmin I have found the articles on my next two tools the most interesting so far.

Second: “Zenoss: Tame Report Noise (and Lose Nagios?)“. Zenoss is supposed to be this awesome network monitoring and management system. It is relatively easy to setup and has a web interface (like all good management apps nowadays). Zenoss Core is available for free download from sourceforge.net and provides a wide range of capabilities. Zenoss Enterprise is for sysadmins in large companies requiring additional features. To me Zenoss is my ideal model for an open source company. They have open sourced their core software while offering both support and additional features for paying customers.

Features of Zenoss Core
Features of Zenoss Core (courtesy Zenoss website (http://www.zenoss.com/site-images/core.gif))

I had no problems with the installation but it is worth noting that for Zenoss to work you need to have the simple network management protocol (SNMP) running on client computers. This has proved a bit troublesome for me since in our network, only the Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5 server seems to have it installed and running by default. I installed SNMP on the Windows server as well but it doesn’t seem to be working. This is an issue I will have to work out in the new year.

Third: “Master Port Scanning with Nmap“. This article introduced me to nmap scanning (which I only knew very little about) and to a very cool sounding tool called UMIT. UMIT is a graphical front end for nmap and allows users to build up customized nmap commands through a series of drop down menus. I have not actually had a chance to test this program yet because I am having a problem with one of its dependencies. When I run it, it crashes saying that it has no module names sqlite3. Since I do have the sqlite 3.3.6 and python-sqlite packages installed I now have to try and find the answer elsewhere (the machine is a RHEL 5 Workstation). UMIT does however have the coolest splash screen I have seen for any software package:

UMIT splash screen
UMIT splash screen (courtesy UMIT source code tar file (share/pixmaps/splash.png))

PS. My apologies for the quality of the images. When I use the original size, the quality is great but unfortunately they are too wide for the blog column. I have had to force them to fit into the column, hence the reduction in quality. If you click on the images you will see the best quality.

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Categories: Computers, Work | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Becoming a SysAdmin

  1. Koopa

    Wow your company is lucky to have you as a sysadmin. Most sysadmin’s I know don’t even have network scanners to ensure that people are doing “the right thing” and don’t give two winks about monitoring.

    I wish you luck 🙂 Being a sysadmin is hard work (4 years and running)

    Koopa
    ——————————————
    http://blog.sillica.com – a great place to waste time, or not!

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