Linux in Action
David Clinton
  • MEAP began September 2017
  • Publication in August 2018 (estimated)
  • ISBN 9781617294938
  • 450 pages (estimated)
  • printed in black & white

It's the best book for anyone that likes to learn more Linux and manage it.

Mohsen Mostafa Jokar

The Linux operating system powers millions of web servers, data centers, and application platforms worldwide. Whether you're pushing applications to a cloud system like AWS, building a twitter bot on a Raspberry Pi, or rescuing files from a crashed laptop, Linux is required knowledge. The good news is that the same Linux command set will work for you no matter where you're using it. The better news is that Linux skills have staying power, so what you learn about Linux now will probably still work in a decade or two. Bottom line? If you're a developer, administrator, or just a weekend hacker, you need to know your way around the Linux command line. Let's get started!

Table of Contents detailed table of contents

1. Welcome to Linux

1.1. What makes Linux different from other operating systems

1.2. Basic survival skills

1.2.1. The Linux file system

1.2.2. Getting around: Linux navigation tools

1.2.3. Getting things done: Linux file management tools

1.2.4. Keyboard tricks

1.2.5. Pseudo file systems

1.2.6. Showing 'em who’s boss: sudo

1.3. Getting help

1.3.1. Man

1.3.2. Info

1.3.3. The internet

1.4. Summary

1.5. Key terms

1.6. Security best practices

1.7. Command-line review

1.8. Test yourself

1.8.1. Answer key

2. Linux virtualization: build a safe and simple Linux working environment

2.1. What is virtualization?

2.2. Working with VirtualBox

2.2.1. Working with Linux package managers

2.2.2. Defining a virtual machine (VM)

2.2.3. Installing an operating system (OS)

2.2.4. Cloning and sharing a VirtualBox VM

2.3. Working with Linux Containers (LXCs)

2.3.1. Getting started with LXC

2.3.2. Creating your first container

2.4. Summary

2.5. Key terms

2.6. Security best practices

2.7. Command-line review

2.8. Test yourself

2.8.1. Answer key

3. Remote connectivity: safely access networked machines

3.1. The importance of encryption

3.2. Getting started with OpenSSH

3.3. Logging into a remote server with SSH

3.4. Password-free SSH access

3.4.1. Generating a new key pair

3.4.2. Copying the public key over a network

3.4.3. Working with multiple encryption keys

3.5. Safely copying files with SCP

3.6. Using remote graphic programs over SSH connections

3.7. Linux process management

3.7.1. Viewing processes with the ps command

3.7.2. Working with systemd

3.8. Summary

3.9. Key terms

3.10. Security best practices

3.11. Command-line review

3.12. Test yourself

3.12.1. Answer key

4. Archive management: backup or copy entire file systems

4.1. Why archive?

4.1.1. Compression

4.1.2. Archives: some important considerations

4.2. What to archive

4.3. Where to back up

4.4. Archiving files and file systems using tar

4.4.1. Simple archive and compression examples

4.4.2. Streaming file system archives

4.4.3. Aggregating files with find

4.4.4. Preserving permissions and ownership�and extracting archives

4.5. Archiving partitions with dd

4.5.1. dd operations

4.5.2. Wiping disks with dd

4.6. Synchronizing archives with rsync

4.7. Planning considerations

4.8. Summary

4.9. Key terms

4.10. Security best practices

4.11. Command-line review

4.12. Test yourself

4.12.1. Answer key

5. Automated administration: configure automated offsite backups

5.1. Scripting with Bash

5.1.1. A sample script for backing up system files

5.1.2. A sample script for changing filenames

5.2. Backing up data to AWS S3

5.2.1. Installing the AWS command-line interface (CLI)

5.2.2. Configuring your AWS account

5.2.3. Creating your first bucket

5.3. Scheduling regular backups with cron

5.4. Scheduling irregular backups with anacron

5.4.1. Running the S3 sync job

5.5. Scheduling regular backups with systemd timers

5.6. Summary

5.7. Key terms

5.8. Security best practices

5.9. Command-line review

5.10. Test yourself

5.10.1. Answer key

6. Emergency tools: build a system recovery device

6.1. Working in recovery/rescue mode

6.1.1. The GRUB bootloader

6.1.2. Using recovery mode on Ubuntu

6.1.3. Using rescue mode on CentOS

6.1.4. Finding command-line rescue tools

6.2. Building a live-boot recovery drive

6.2.1. System rescue images

6.2.2. Writing live-boot images to USB drives

6.3. Putting your live-boot drive to work

6.3.1. Test system memory

6.3.2. Damaged partitions

6.3.3. Recovering files from a damaged file system

6.4. Password recovery: mounting a file system using chroot

6.5. Summary

6.6. Key terms

6.7. Security best practices

6.8. Command-line review

6.9. Test yourself

6.9.1. Answer key

7. Web servers: build a MediaWiki server

7.1. Building a LAMP server

7.2. Manually setting up an Apache web server

7.2.1. Installing the Apache web server on Ubuntu

7.2.2. Populating your website document root

7.3. Installing an SQL database

7.3.1. Hardening SQL

7.3.2. SQL administration

7.4. Installing PHP

7.4.1. Installing PHP on Ubuntu

7.4.2. Testing your PHP installation

7.5. Installing and configuring MediaWiki

7.5.1. Troubleshooting missing extensions

7.5.2. Connecting MediaWiki to the database

7.6. Installing the Apache web server on CentOS

7.6.1. Understanding network ports

7.6.2. Controlling network traffic

7.6.3. Installing MariaDB on CentOS

7.6.4. Installing PHP on CentOS

7.7. Summary

7.8. Key terms

7.9. Security best practices

7.10. Command-line review

7.10.1. Test yourself

7.11. Answer key

8. Networked file sharing: build a Nextcloud file-sharing server

8.1. Enterprise file sharing and Nextcloud

8.2. Installing Nextcloud using snaps

8.3. Installing Nextcloud manually

8.3.1. Hardware prerequisites

8.3.2. Building a LAMP server

8.3.3. Configuring Apache

8.3.4. Downloading and unpacking Nextcloud

8.4. Administrating Nextcloud

8.5. Using AWS S3 as the primary Nextcloud storage

8.6. Summary

8.7. Key terms

8.8. Security best practices

8.9. Command-line review

8.10. Test yourself

8.10.1. Answer key

9. Secure your web server

9.1. The obvious stuff

9.2. Controlling network access

9.2.1. Configuring a firewall

9.2.2. Using non-standard ports

9.3. Encrypting data in transit

9.3.1. Preparing your website domain

9.3.2. Generating certificates using Let’s Encrypt

9.4. Hardening the authentication process

9.4.1. Controlling file system objects with SELinux

9.4.2. Installing and activating SELinux

9.4.3. Applying SELinux policies

9.4.4. System groups and the principle of least privilege

9.4.5. Isolating processes within containers

9.4.6. Scanning for dangerous user ID values

9.5. Auditing system resources

9.5.1. Scanning for open ports

9.5.2. Scanning for active services

9.5.3. Searching for installed software

9.6. Summary

9.7. Key terms

9.8. Command-line review

9.9. Test yourself

9.9.1. Answer key

10. Secure your network connections: create a VPN or DMZ

10.1. Building an OpenVPN tunnel

10.1.1. Configuring an OpenVPN server

10.1.2. Configuring an OpenVPN client

10.1.3. Testing your VPN

10.2. Building intrusion-resistant networks

10.2.1. Demilitarized zones (DMZs)

10.2.2. Using iptables

10.2.3. Creating a DMZ using iptables

10.2.4. Creating a DMZ using Shorewall

10.3. Building a virtual network for infrastructure testing

10.4. Summary

10.5. Key terms

10.6. Command-line review

10.7. Test yourself

10.7.1. Answer key

11. System monitoring: working with log files

11.1. Working with system logs

11.1.1. Logging with journald

11.1.2. Logging with syslogd

11.2. Managing log files

11.2.1. The journald way

11.2.2. The syslogd way

11.3. Consuming large files

11.3.1. Using grep

11.3.2. Using awk

11.3.3. sed

11.4. Monitoring with intrusion detection

11.4.1. Setting up a mail server

11.4.2. Installing Tripwire

11.4.3. Configuring Tripwire

11.4.4. Generating a test Tripwire report

11.5. Summary

11.6. Key terms

11.7. Security best practices

11.8. Command-line review

11.9. Test yourself

11.9.1. Answer key

12. Sharing data over a private network

12.1. Sharing files through the Network File System (NFS)

12.1.1. Setting up the NFS server

12.1.2. Setting up the client

12.1.3. Mounting an NFS share at boot time

12.1.4. NFS security

12.2. Sharing files with Windows users using Samba

12.2.1. Testing your Samba configuration

12.2.2. Accessing a Samba server from Windows

12.4. Summary

12.5. Key terms

12.6. Security best practices

12.7. Command-line review

12.8. Test yourself

12.8.1. Answer key

13. Troubleshooting system performance issues

13.1. CPU load problems

13.1.1. Measuring CPU load

13.1.2. Managing CPU load

13.1.3. Making trouble (simulating CPU load)

13.2. Memory problems

13.2.1. Assessing memory status

13.2.2. Assessing swap status

13.3. Storage availability problems

13.3.1. Inode limits

13.3.2. The solution

13.4. Network load problems

13.4.1. Measuring bandwidth

13.4.2. Solutions

13.4.3. Shaping network traffic with tc

13.5. Monitoring tools

13.5.1. Aggregating monitoring data

13.5.2. Visualizing you data

13.6. Summary

13.7. Key terms

13.8. Security best practices

13.9. Command-line review

13.10. Test yourself

13.10.1. Answer key

14. Troubleshooting network issues

14.1. Understanding TCP/IP addressing

14.1.1. What’s NAT addressing

14.1.2. Working with NAT addressing

14.2. Establishing network connectivity

14.3. Troubleshooting outbound connectivity

14.3.1. Tracking down the status of your network

14.3.2. Assigning IP addresses

14.3.3. Configuring DNS service

14.3.4. Plumbing

14.4. Troubleshooting inbound connectivity

14.4.1. Internal connection scanning: netstat

14.4.2. External connection scanning: netcat

14.5. Summary

14.6. Key terms

14.7. Security best practices

14.8. Command-line review

14.9. Test yourself

14.9.1. Answer key

15. Troubleshooting peripheral devices

15.1. Identifying attached devices

15.2. Managing peripherals with Linux kernel modules

15.2.1. Finding kernel modules

15.2.2. Manually loading kernel modules

15.3. Manually managing kernel parameters at boot time

15.3.1. Passing parameters at boot time

15.3.2. Passing parameters via the file system

15.4. Managing printers

15.4.1. Basics of lp

15.4.2. Managing printers using CUPS

15.5. Summary

15.6. Key terms

15.7. Security best practices

15.8. Command-line review

15.9. Test yourself

15.9.1. Answer key

16. DevOps tools: deploy a scripted server environment using Ansible

16.1. What can deployment orchestrators do for you

16.2. Ansible: installation and setup

16.2.1. Setting up passwordless access to hosts

16.2.2. Organizing Ansible hosts

16.2.3. Testing connectivity

16.3. Authentication

16.4. Ansible playbooks

16.4.1. Writing a simple playbook

16.4.2. Creating multi-tiered, roles-powered playbooks

16.4.3. Managing passwords in Ansible

16.5. Summary

16.6. Key terms

16.7. Security best practices

16.8. Command-line review

16.9. Test yourself

16.9.1. Answer key

About the book

Linux in Action is a task-based tutorial that will give you the skills and deep understanding you'll need to administer a Linux-based system. This hands-on book guides you through real-world projects so you can practice as you learn. You'll learn critical techniques like virtualization, disaster recovery, infrastructure security, data backup, web servers, DevOps, and system troubleshooting. Plus, each chapter ends with a command-line review, list of security best practices, unfamiliar terms & definitions, and exercises to bring home the key takeaways!

What's inside

  • Setting up a Linux environment suitable for safely experimenting with modern technologies
  • Managing secure remote connectivity
  • Securing a web server
  • Building a system recovery device
  • Securely sharing files within a local network and across the internet
  • Creating a VPN to safely connect to a server
  • Troubleshooting network and system performance issues
  • Making automated and reliable backup solutions

About the reader

Readers should be comfortable working with the files, networks, and basic resources of a modern operating system.

About the author

David Clinton is a Linux Server Professional with a long history of teaching IT subjects. He is the author of the Practical LPIC-1 Linux Certification Study Guide and Manning's popular Learn Amazon Web Services in a Month of Lunches.


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Learning any computer-related skill is always a matter of the chicken or the egg. Clinton takes a gentle approach to introducing you to the Linux 'chicken' by showing you how the egg is assembled.

Tim Kane

Clinton's book is exceptionally clear, organized and concise.

Jonas Medina de los Reyes