Career Days: Linux Systems Administrator Wrap-up

I kicked off Ubuntu Women Career Days this past Saturday by talking about my job as a Linux Systems Administrator.

Server Rack

Key points touched upon:

What does a Systems Administrator do?

  • We install, secure, maintain and upgrade servers.
  • Many of us work with customers (or fellow employees within a company) via phone, email or a ticketing system to handle service and support requests.
  • A sysadmin may be called upon to help select and provision hardware, or work with peers and management to engineer solutions to computing problems or changing expectations within a company.
  • Typically sysadmins don’t need strong programming skills, but when you’re working with Linux a lot of tasks will be scripted in bash or Perl (and increasingly Python) so you will be expected to read, improve upon and write scripts as needed to complete tasks efficiently.
  • Also see: SAGE’s (USENIX Special Interest Group for Sysadmins) “Core Job Descriptions” document:

What kind of training does a Systems Administrator need?

  • Some are self-taught sysadmins who started off as Linux hobbyists
  • There are several certifications now available for folks looking to learn the basics in a quicker, more structured way and have something to show for it, including the LPI and various levels of Red Hat certifications
  • There are Ubuntu training opportunities, more details can be found here:
  • A Computer Science degree can certainly be useful in a job as a sysadmin since core systems knowledge and programming comes in handy
  • Keeping up with the latest changes and important developments in the core systems you’re using is also vital, which I do by reading Linux blogs, subscribing to Linux magazines and frequently talking with fellow sysadmins about the latest tools they’re using
  • There are also conferences geared toward sysadmins, frequently you can find talks at Linux Users Groups that can be informative and specialized groups also exist in some areas for certain applications

On a day to day basis I may find myself working on…

  • Remote installation of servers
  • Configuration of firewalls, mailservers, webservers, monitoring, content filtering systems and high-availablity (HA) virtualized clusters
  • Maintenance, including routine security updates and release upgrades
  • Handling of customer requests via ticketing system, email and phone
  • Content and services migrations
  • Network debugging
  • Emergency restoration of services and servers
  • Specing out hardware and new software tools for new projects

Full logs are available on our wiki:

If you’re interested in getting involved, please see the Ubuntu Women Career Days wiki page or email Cheri Francis or myself (

These sessions are open to the whole community, you don’t need to be a woman to attend or participate.

One Response to “Career Days: Linux Systems Administrator Wrap-up”

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