May 12, 2019

Linux system administrator. Who is a system administrator and what does he do?

The main duties and responsibilities of a Linux system administrator.

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Un Linux system administrator o system administrator , systemist or sysadmin, is a person in charge of the reliable maintenance, configuration and operation of computer systems ; especially multi-user computers, such as servers. The system administrator tries to ensure that the uptime, performance, resources and security of the computers they manage meet the needs of the users, without exceeding a predetermined budget.

A Linux system administrator takes care of computers running on Linux operating systems. The professional will manage the supporting infrastructure, operating systems, virtual platforms and applications. The administrator is responsible for the integrity and security of servers and IT systems following established security protocols and practices.

These professionals work in conjunction with the computer system engineer to install the system. The Linux administrator ensures that the systems are up to date with changing technologies. They are responsible for installing new software, granting permissions, and training users for applications.

The Linux administrator plays an active role in patching, building, protecting and troubleshooting Linux servers in a heterogeneous environment. The professional performs system updates and server configurations. They are responsible for implementing changes in multiple environments, from development to production. The professional can also develop scripts with various languages, such as Bash, Python and PHP.

Linux system administrator

To meet these needs, a system administrator can acquire, install, or update computer components and software; provide routine automation; maintain security policies; troubleshooting ; train or supervise staff; or offer technical support for projects.

Related fields

Within Information Technology (IT), there are several crucial positions related to systems administration. In a large organization, these functions are often split between different professionals within the IT Support or Information Services (IS) department. However, in small businesses or small groups, these responsibilities may be handled by a small team of system administrators or in some cases, by a single person.

  1. Database Administrator (DBA): A Pillar for Data Management The Database Administrator (DBA) plays a crucial role in ensuring the efficiency and performance of the database system. This expert is the guarantor of data integrity, making sure it is always accessible and protected from damage or loss.
  2. Network Administrator: The Guardian of Network Infrastructure: The Network Administrator is responsible for managing the network infrastructure, including networking devices such as switches and routers. This professional identifies and resolves problems with these devices or with the behavior of networked computers, ensuring the continuity and efficiency of internal and external communications.
  1. Security Administrator: The Data Protection Specialist: The Security Administrator is a specialist in the security of computer and network systems. This professional manages security devices, such as firewalls, and advises on general security measures, with the aim of protecting the organization from possible cyber threats.
  1. Web admin: Website Operations Manager: The Web Administrator is in charge of managing web server services, such as Apache, NGINX, GWAN or IIS. This professional takes care of the management of websites, the configuration of the necessary components and software, and the security of the sites. He can also be called upon to manage software changes, always guaranteeing maximum operability and safety.
  1. Computer operator: Field Maintenance Technician: The Computer Operator is responsible for routine maintenance tasks, such as replacing backup tapes or failing drives in a Redundant Array of Independent Disks (RAID) system. This figure, although it may seem less qualified than the others, requires a high level of reliability, as he has access to potentially confidential data and performs tasks that are crucial to the functionality of the computer system.


The subject of systems administration includes computer systems and how people use them in an organization. This involves a knowledge of operating systems and applications, as well as hardware and software troubleshooting, but also a knowledge of the purposes for which people in the organization use computers.

Perhaps the most important skill for a sysadmin is troubleshooting, often under various kinds of constraints and stresses. The system administrator is on duty when a computer crashes or malfunctions and must be able to quickly and correctly diagnose what is wrong and the best way to fix it. They may also need to have teamwork and communication skills; as well as being able to install and configure hardware and software.

System administrators need to understand the behavior of software to deploy and troubleshoot, and are generally familiar with different programming languages ​​used for scripting or automating routine tasks. A typical role of the sysadmin is not to design or write new application software, but when they are responsible for automating the system or application configuration with various configuration management tools, the lines are slightly blurry. Depending on the sysadmin's role and skills, they are likely to understand key concepts / cores equivalent to those of a software engineer. That said, sysadmins aren't software engineers or developers, in the most restrictive sense related to the job title.

Especially when it comes to Internet systems or business-critical systems, a sysadmin must have a solid understanding of cybersecurity. This includes not only the distribution of software patches, but also the prevention of break-ins and other security problems with preventative measures. In some organizations, the cybersecurity administration is a separate role responsible for the overall security and maintenance of firewalls and intrusion detection systems, but all system administrators are generally responsible for the security of the information systems.


The responsibilities of the system administrator could include:

  • Analyze system logs and identify potential problems with computer systems.
  • Applying operating system updates, patches, and configuration changes.
  • Installation and configuration of new hardware and software.
  • Adding, removing or updating user account information, resetting passwords, etc.
  • Answering technical questions and user assistance.
  • Responsibility for safety.
  • Responsibility for system configuration documentation.
  • Troubleshooting reported issues.
  • System performance tuning.
  • Ensure that the network infrastructure is up and running.
  • Configure, add and delete file systems.
  • Ensure parity between development, test and production environments.
  • User training
  • Plan and manage the engine room environment.

In larger organizations, some of the activities listed above can be split between different system administrators or members of different organizational groups. For example, a dedicated person can apply all system updates, a Quality Assurance (QA) team can perform testing and validation, and one or more technical authors can be responsible for all written technical documentation for a company.

System administrators, in large organizations, tend not to be systems architects, systems engineers, or systems designers.

In smaller organizations, the system administrator can also serve as technical support, database administrator, network administrator, storage (SAN) administrator, or application analyst.

Linux system administrator

A Linux system administrator is a professional figure specialized in Information Technology, with specific skills in designing, installing and configuring IT solutions based on the Gnu Linux operating system. This role performs crucial work in a digital age where reliability, security and efficiency of operating systems are of paramount importance.

Fundamental skills of a Linux System Administrator

A Linux system administrator possesses a deep understanding of Linux, an Open Source UNIX Like operating system. His expertise ranges over the most popular distributions used in data center environments, such as Suse (mainly commercial distribution), Debian and its derivatives, and RedHat and its derivative versions.

Debian derivatives mainly include the different versions of Ubuntu, while RedHat derivatives include distributions such as CentOS and Scientific Linux, the latter widely used in scientific research.

Specialization in specific Linux distributions

The panorama of Linux distributions is vast and complex, and for this reason, Linux systems engineers tend to specialize in particular distributions. Debian and CentOS are among the most common, due to their wide variety of software packages, both official and open source community support, and long-term releases that guarantee a distribution will last for at least a decade. These characteristics, together with the ease of installation and configuration, make Debian and CentOS ideal for use in highly efficient professional contexts, such as datacenters with tens of thousands of servers and a large number of customers.

Wide range of application skills

Based on specific needs, a Linux system administrator can acquire different skills in various fields. These include Databases (such as PostgreSQL, MySQL Server, Percona Server, MariaDB, Oracle), WebServers (such as Apache, NGINX, LightHTTP, LiteSpeed), Server Side Languages ​​(PHP, Python, Ruby, Java), MailServers and POP3/IMAP Servers ( PostFix, Sendmail, Exim, Dovecot), among others. The versatility and wide range of skills make a Linux system administrator a key figure in the efficient and secure management of computer systems.


Linux Systems Engineer Evolution


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