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Red Hat Storage 2.1 Administration Guide

So, a few weeks ago I reviewed a really good article (free epub download) by O'reilly Media that answers the question What is DevOps. Now I'm upping the ante, and thus reviewing documentation handbooks. This case it's the Red Hat Storage 2.1 Administration guide, and like what O'reilly Media did with the DevOps article, Red Hat is kindly enough to give out their documentation free of charge as an epub download, which I can easily read it on my freedom hating iPad mini, but I digress..

The last few weeks I've been architecting a High Availability storage solution for our mission critical web applications at work and opted to use GlusterFS. I've always said (and imaged) that in order to any software project to be fully reputable, it needs a good solid book to back it up. To my surprise at the time of the writing of the review their isn't a GlusterFS specific book published. After reading the official Red Hat Storage 2.1 Administration guide is quite clear why their hasn't been a book published for GlusterFS. Reading this documentation is practically all you need to start using GlusterFS and start deploying it on any production environment. Although the documentation explicitly describes implementing GlusterFS on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, I didn't find any problem translating the usage into CentOS. The documentation is not dead boring, but rather actually written like a technical book. It walks you to installing and configuring GlusterFS on local environment as well as through Amazon Web Services. The only portions that I skimmed trough were the chapters regarding Geo-replication and AWS. Aside that, the documentation covers just about anything you need to know to successfully deploy GlusterFS on production environment. The only portion I feel the documentation needed some additional detail is the NFS High Availability configuration. Red Hat recommends using the Cluster Trivial Database (CTDB) package, which is part of the Samba project, however the documentation doesn't give out any examples on configuring ctdb.

Prior to deploying GlusterFS on a production environment, I read this documentation along with the official GlusterFS documentation (which is practically 80% of the same content covered on the official Red Hat documentation) and quite frankly given how incredibly simple GlusterFS is to implement and manage, I feel that's all the information needed to learning and using GlusterFS for your storage needs.

Chapter 1: Platform Introduction
Chapter 2: Red Hat Storage Architecture
Chapter 3: Key Features
Chapter 4: Use Case Examples
Chapter 5: Storage Concepts
Chapter 6: The glusterd Services
Chapter 7: Trusted Storage Pools
Chapter 8: Red Hat Storage Volumes
Chapter 9: Accessing Data – Setting up Clients
Chapter 10: Managing Red Hat Storage Volumes
Chapter 11: Configuring Red Hat Storage for Enhancing Performance
Chapter 12: Managing Geo-replication
Chapter 13: Managing Directory Quotas
Chapter 14: Monitoring Your Red Hat Storage Workload
Chapter 15: Managing Red Hat Storage Volume Life-Cycle Extensions
Chapter 16: Launching Red Hat Storage Server for Public Cloud
Chapter 17: Provisioning Storage
Chapter 18: Stopping and Restarting Red Hat Storage Instance
Chapter 19: Managing Object Store
Chapter 20: Troubleshooting

Rating: 5/5
Red Hat Storage 2.1 Administration Guide

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DevOps Troubleshooting: Linux Server Best Practices

I've been a long time subscriber of Linux Journal magazine, and Kyle Rankin's column is quite frankly why I continue to be Linux Journal subscriber. His book DevOps Troubleshooting: Linux Server Best Practices, is a general purpose troubleshooting guide to the most common problems encountered in any Linux system. Linux servers are everywhere, if you're a developer, QA engineer, DBA, or a sysadmin, this book has the necessary content for the entire development and operations departments need as a common middle grounds of basic server troubleshooting skills without necessarily being a Linux expert. This book describes tools, and tricks for troubleshooting performance (load, CPU, memory, disk I/O, etc.), boot, network, DNS, email, database, and hardware related problems.

This book does NOT, walk you through setting up a Linux server. Most likely if you're reading this book, you're already working with one, as well as have the basic Linux knowledge to do so.

I would definitely recommend book. Thus said, as a mid-level/senior Linux systems administrator, I practically already accumulated the majority of the troubleshooting content described in the book with the exception of the chapters related to troubleshooting email and database, which I definitely learned new things thanks to this book. I also found the chapter related hardware problems really interesting, especially after having already encountered some of them :-)

Chapter 1: Troubleshooting Best Practices
Chapter 2: Why is the Server So Slow? Running out of CPU, RAM, and Disk I/O
Chapter 3: Why Won't the System Boot? Solving Boot Problems
Chapter 4: Why Can't I Write to the Disk? Solving Full or Corrupt Disk Issues
Chapter 5: Is the Server Down? Tracking Down the Source of Network Problems
Chapter 6: Why Won't the Hostnames Resolves? Solving DNS Server Issues
Chapter 7: Why Didn't My Email Go Through? Tracing Email Problems
Chapter 8: Is the Website Down? Tracking Down Web Server Problems
Chapter 9: Why is the Database Slow? Tracking Down Database Problems
Chapter 10: It's the Hardware Fault! Diagnosing Common Hardware Problems

Rating: 5/5

DevOps Troubleshooting: Linux Server Best Practices

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What is DevOps? Infrastructure as Code

The million dollar question it is, well not necessarily. In short DevOps is essentially the evolution of Information Technology Operations to the 21st century. This short paper that O'Reilly bundled as a free eBook, does an awesome job describing operations from its early place in computing were essentially systems administrators were developers and up till now. Were now if you're going to do operations reliably, you need to effectively make it reproducible in a pragmatic manner, hence the popularity of tools like Chef, Puppet, Ansible, so on a so forth. This means organization's core infrastructure moves into “code”, and those responsible for managing that infrastructure (eg, Systems Administrators, IT administrators, etc..) , will have adapt to this evolution. In comes DevOps in to the scene, which is cooperation and collaboration between the operations team that manages the applications and the development team that creates the applications. A perfect example that this paper describes is how now in days, modern applications run in the “cloud” like Amazon Web Services. While this completely changes the concept of having a traditional physical server in your companies closet, or co-location, this doesn't mean that operations goes away, it now means that it now becomes part of development.

The most important concept described by this paper, is that while operations changes, the end outcome continues to be the same. An effect of this, is while even though there are more virtual/physical servers in an organizations more than ever before, traditional IT jobs become lesser as now their functions become part of development. This somewhat reminds me when I was in school and having fellow students already working in the IT field as MS-Exchange administrators, and now those types of jobs/responsibilities/functions are becoming lesser and lesser due to Google Apps and low cost MS-Exchange managed services. Were they able to adapt to this operations change?

Rating: 5/5

What is DevOps? Infrastructure as Code

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LPIC-2 Linux Professional Institute Certification Study Guide

I must say, I'm a big fan of certification centric technical books. This book was based on the Linux Professional Institute Advanced level 2 certification's exam objectives. Certification books tend to go obsolete pretty fast, and this book is somewhat the case. The book was published in 2011, and the LPIC-2 exam objectives covered in this book were change on November 2013. Thus said, with the exception of the Upstart content, the material covered in this book is definitely NOT obsolete what so ever. Any mid-level Linux systems administrator, and possibly Junior level admin will definitely find this book to be useful and helpful in their day-to-day syadmin job. Personally, I found the content relating to BIND, ISC DHCP, and LDAP be really informative and well described.

The book is divided into two different portions, focusing on the LPI 201 and 202 exam objectives respectively. Although some of the exam objectives are no longer up to date, I still feel this book is good reference if you're at this present planning on becoming LPIC-2 certified.

Chapter 1: System Startup and Advanced System Management
Chapter 2: Linux Kernel Configuration
Chapter 3: Basic Filesystem Management
Chapter 4: Advanced Disk Management
Chapter 5: Network Configuration
Chapter 6: DNS Server Configuration
Chapter 7: Advanced Network Configuration
Chapter 8: Configuring File Servers
Chapter 9: Configuring Web and Email Servers
Chapter 10: Security
Chapter 11: System Troubleshooting I: Boot and Kernel Problems
Chapter 12: System Troubleshooting II: System Resources and the User Environment

Rating: 3/5

LPIC-2 Linux Professional Institute Certification Study Guide

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Red Hat Certified System Administrator & Engineer: Training Guide and a Quick Deskside Reference

This is the first book that I've read as part of my quest to become an RHCE. This book alone is by no chance all the study material needed to pass the RHCE exam, but I see it as one of many resources that I'll be using to accomplish my end goal. This book has really good excellent step-by-step practice labs That I think even a novice Linux user can follow easily. Every chapter has about 30+ questions about the chapter's topic which I found an excellent refresher/reminder of the content that was covered in it. I found the material in this book really helpful that I see this book as type of book that any Linux administrator needs to have in their book shelf.
I know I will definitely get back to it again to study the material or as a refresher of the content and practice using the step-by-step labs.

The book is divided into two sections dedicated for the RHCSA and RHCE certification objectives respectively. Overall I found the author's writing easy and coherent to understand. The only downside to the book is that it's poorly edited. The author doesn't mentioned this so I suspect this book didn't had a dedicated technical reviewer. This is really visible given that the book has numerous typos and mistakes.

Although this book is aimed to be a quick reference for the RHSCA/RHCE exams, I would definitely recommend it anyone interested in learning RHEL/Cent OS more in depth. Thus said, make sure to checkout the book's errata if you're planning on reading it!

Chapter 1: Local Installation
Chapter 2: Basic Linux Commands
Chapter 3: Files & Directories
Chapter 4: File Permissions, Text Editors, Text Processors & The Shell
Chapter 5: Process, Scheduling & Basic Hardware
Chapter 6: Package Management
Chapter 7: Virtualization & Network Installation
Chapter 8: Boot Process & Kernel Management
Chapter 9: Disk Partitioning
Chapter 10: File Systems & Swap
Chapter 11: Users & Groups
Chapter 12: Firewall & SELinux
Chapter 13: Networking, Network Interfaces & DNS, DHCP and LDAP Clients
Chapter 14: Shell Scripting, Building an RPM Package, & iSCSI
Chapter 15: Advance Firewall, TCP Wrappers, Usage Reporting & Remote Logging
Chapter 16: Routing, Kerberous & DNS Server
Chapter 17: Internet Services, Kernel Parameters & NTP
Chapter 18: Electronic Mail
Chapter 19: Network File System
Chapter 20: Samba & FTP
Chapter 21: Apache Web Server & Secure Shell Server

Rating: 4/5

Red Hat Certified System Administrator & Engineer: Training Guide and a Quick Deskside Reference

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