So you want to be a Unix sysadmin?

After several decades of administering Unix systems, I know more than I’d like to admit about “the good, the bad, and the challenging” of Unix systems administration. I’ve worked in companies with as few as four employees and others with tens of thousands. I’ve spent weeks doing routine, repetitive work and weeks grappling with such incredibly complex assignments that I’ve wondered if my brain was about to explode. I’ve had years in which I actually looked forward to Monday mornings and those in which I just couldn’t wait for Fridays. Unix systems administration can be everything from a predictable job to one in which every day is a challenge. In a small shop, you’re likely to have many diverse responsibilities; you might even be the entire IT department — managing the systems, the network, the organization’s web site, and providing technical support to the staff. In a large company, you might be handling a mix of tasks along with a dozen other people just like you or managing one slice of a complex pie of responsibilities.