Edinburgh Castle
Perl for System Administration
AuthorsDavid N. Blank-Edelman
DateJuly 2000
ReviewerRory Macdonald
Cover image for Perl Hacks

Larry initially created Perl to ease systems data munging-related woes, so this book could be viewed as the use of the language in its birthplace. Any expectations of wizardry conjoured by this inceptive combination are soon dispelled.

What is presented here is a useful but thin patchwork of sys admin tasks, with just enough code, hints and references to point the reader in a reasonable direction to get the job done. To that extent, the book can be said to deliver on its stated desire to make you more productive.

The publisher is hoping to market to all levels of admins and I understand the need to cater to beginners and to provide context for the code and tactics offered. However, given the volume of exposition of various systems-related technologies and protocols, I would suggest that the target readership be more realistically aimed at defacto or inexperienced sys admins.

Quite often the solutions boiled down to 'run a system command from perl, then capture and munge its output'. Which may well be the appropriate solution, but in such cases I increasingly found myself thinking "is that it!?".

That said, there is sufficient cross-platform coverage here to ease the gotchas of the otherwise experienced admin facing simple tasks in an unfamiliar environment. While this aspect is not heavily promoted, I feel it is where the real shelf-life value lies in this text.

Finally, I may have been overly hungry for some entertainment following what was an unsatisfying read, but the real world tale of Perl being used in an emergency to glue an investigative tool together failed to deliver any real sense of drama or humour, which may have resulted in a more memorable lesson.


If you don't know much about the tools or technologies relevant to systems administration then this book will likely deliver a reasonable grounding in many of them. Otherwise there is little here to impress and you will probably be better served by CPAN and other online sources.

Table of contents

Perl for System Administration

About the Authors
Ch  1. Introduction
Ch  2. Filesystems
Ch  3. User Accounts
Ch  4. User Activity
Ch  5. TCP/IP Name Services
Ch  6. Directory Services
Ch  7. SQL Database Administration
Ch  8. Electronic Mail
Ch  9. Log Files
Ch 10. Security and Networking Monitoring
App A. The Five-Minute RCS Tutorial
App B. The Ten-Minute LDAP Tutorial
App C. The Eight-Minute XML Tutorial
App D. The Fifteen-Minute SQL Tutorial
App E. The Twenty-Minute SNMP Tutorial
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