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Com Sci 501
System Administration in Linux

[back] Department of Computer Science
[] The University of Chicago

Samples of Sys Admin Work

System Administrator's Diary.
This is a copy of the diary in which I recorded work on my home machine, Powdermilk, over the past year. I think I did a reasonably good job of recording information that I needed to clarify in my mind, or that would be useful to look back at later. Do not copy my actions uncritically, since a lot has changed over the year in which I kept this diary. My understanding has improved, and the structure of the Debian distribution has changed, too. Also keep in mind that Powdermilk was my vehicle for experimenting with Debian GNU/Linux, as well as a tool for doing my work. So, I tried a lot of things in a brief period of time. I would have been much more conservative had I been supporting a crucial production system.
This is my customization file for applications that run under X.
This is my customization file for FVWM2. You may need to load more packages to make some of the applications work. Some of the packages are not on the Debian CD, and you will need to fetch them by FTP. One of them is not even in the Debian FTP archive, so you'll find it elsewhere. You may want to remove items until you have the applications, or you may decide to leave them there if they don't confuse you. You may copy all, some, or none of my configuration, as it suits your needs and tastes. Some of the items will be impossible for you to use, e.g., logins to my account at the University of Iowa. You probably want to delete that. Some things definitely need new names, e.g. ``Root at Powdermilk''. There are some small graphics that I cooked up to make my menus look nicer: Can you figure out where to put them? There is a clue in .fvwm2rc.
This starts up a few programs when my window manager starts. It is important to mark this file ``executable''. It is only executed when Xdm starts up a window manager. If you use another way of starting X, you will need to find another way of starting applications and your chosen window manager. Try to figure out why some lines end in ``&'' and some do not, and the last line begins with ``exec''.
This executes whenever I start up bash, and performs the customization that I like. It will not necessarily work for another shell.
This executes every time that I log in. Why is that different from ``whenever I start up bash''? Why do I put so much in .bashrc, and so little in .login?
A configuration file that tells LILO to place a LInux LOader program on a diskette. Be very careful when you run lilo. If the boot= entry is wrong, you may accidentally overwrite a valuable boot block on your hard disk. You probably need to change the root= entry. You also may want to remove some of the choices, in case you don't have as many alternative Linux kernels as I do.
When LILO runs as a boot loader, it doesn't give you much help remembering how to use it. This is unfortunate, since you may use the defaults for a long time, and then need to perform a nondefault case under a lot of pressure. This is my own customized help message for LILO. You should change it to fit your installation. Every time you change this message, you need to run lilo again, since the message gets loaded into the boot block.

Michael J. O'Donnell
Last modified: Fri Nov 14 12:09:30 CST