Sun Certified System Administrator for Solaris 8 Study Guide (Exam 310-011 & 310-012) - Introduction


I hate getting my hair cut. It's not because I have problem hair, or feel like I'm giving in to peer pressure, or because 10 bucks seems like alot for the maintenance of my Marine Corps-style crew-cut. It's because I dread the inevitable question: "So, what do you do?".


How can a UNIX SysAdmin describe what they do to a non-IT person? Or even more importantly, just what the heck is a UNIX SysAdmin anyway?


If I was a brain surgeon, there would be no confused looks. It's obvious, I fix brains. If I was a plumber, there'd be no further questions. Sure, I make water run faster. If I was a cop, there'd be no feigned understanding. Of course, I enforce the laws.


A UNIX SysAdmin is all of those things and much more.


I'm a brain surgeon. A computer is, at a very basic level, a man-made attempt at simulating the functions of the human brain. When there's a problem, it can manifest itself in any number of symptoms. Our first job is to detect the problem, hopefully before it causes permanent damage, and fix it before it gets worse. However, I say a SysAdmin's job is much more difficult than a brain surgeon's. How would they like it if a new version of the human brain was released every 18 months?


I'm a plumber. You will rarely work on a UNIX computer which isn't connected to a network of some kind. In fact, Sun's motto, "The Network is the Computer" is one of the truest statements about the Information Technology today. SysAdmins and plumbers are both responsible for making sure that everything gets where it's going as quickly as possible. But hey, compared to being a SysAdmin, a plumber's got it easy. Afterall, have you ever been in an office where every employee had their own personal bathroom? Don't even get me started on the need for taking their bathrooms on business trips with them.


I'm a cop. (Okay, I'm not about to say that being a SysAdmin is more dangerous than being a police officer, but it's definitely tougher than being a mall security guard.) One of the fastest growing areas in the Information Technology field is security. There's a fine line between locking something down and locking it up. We are required to protect resources while allowing proper access to them. Making something more complicated does not automatically make it more secure. We, both law enforcement personnel and SysAdmins, have an obligation to make sure we protect everyone equally. This means looking for and fixing areas of weakness which may be exploited, reviewing and refining our own procedures and catching law-breakers.


We have written this guide based on the exam objectives published by Sun Microsystems for the Solaris 8 SCSA Exams, Parts 1 and 2. It was a group effort. The authors are all Sun Certified System Administrators and Solaris SysAdmins with valuable experience. We think we've provided a unique, powerful and reliable resource to help anyone who wants to learn.


It's what we do.


We're UNIX SysAdmins.


Randy Cook, SCSA