CSIA 430 – Linux Administration: Course Resources

For this class you’ll be using Canvas, an optional book, a browser, and Oracle Virtual Box to create and run your own Linux virtual machines. You will also have the option of doing some of your review work on the CBC Linux Server, if you want.

The Book

As an instructor and a decent human being, I empathize with the amount of money it costs to buy textbooks, including the one the previous instructor used for this class. With that in mind, and since all of the information in the book can be found on the Internet, I’ve made the book for this class optional. You can purchase it if you want, but you won’t need it to make it through the class. If you still want to purchase a book, here is the information on the book used by the previous instructor. (Note that there may be a newer version as I’m not updating the book information on this page.)

“CompTIA Linux+ Guide to Linux Certification “, 4th Edition by Jason W. Eckert, . ISBN-13 978-1-305-10716-8, Course Technology, Cengage Learning, 2016.

If you decide to buy the book you can purchase it from the CBC book store or online. If you purchase it online you probably want to get the latest version as it cover the latest version of the Linux distribution used in the class. You can purchase a used copy as we will not be using any online resources, or the access codes. New versions of the book come with a DVD that can be used to install Fedora or Ubuntu but this isn’t needed as you can always download the ISO images for installing many Linux distributions from the Internet. However you may want the DVD if you’re planning on reselling the book after completing the class.

Which Browser Should I Use?

Since a good portion of the materials for this class are online it’s critical that you use a browser that allows you to view all of the material in Canvas. Theoretically you can use any browser to view the pages and files in Canvas. However this is another case where theory and reality don’t always align. The browser Canvas developers recommend is Chrome, but you should be able to Firefox and Safari as well. The Canvas team has reported problems with Internet Explorer, but you can always try it if you want. Just remember that if you have problems you should try a different browser. If you’re going to use a Mac, or browse from a tablet or phone Canvas should work with the major browsers. But once again, if you have problems please try a different browser.

If you’re using Windows and Chrome, and still experiencing problems it’s a pretty good indication that there’s something wrong with your computer; which I won’t be able to debug. If you find yourself in this situation you will always be able to use the computers in the CBC library.

Oracle Virtual Box

The main goal of this class is for you to learn as much about Linux Administration as you can. Some instructors have tried to accomplish this by having you read the book and look at PowerPoint presentations, but I believe (and studies1 have shown) that doing hands-on work results in much better comprehension and retention. Or, as the president of WGU once told me … “I can read all about changing flat tires, and pass a test that asks questions about changing flat tires. But that doesn’t give me much confidence that I could actually change a tire. I’d much rather have hands-on experience, especially if I’m driving on some lonesome highway and get a flat tire. If I had the opportunity to practice changing flat tires then I would be much more confident about my abilities.” In my experience as both an instructor and a student I have found that watching lectures and reading books is a great way to start the learning process, but to really learn something, you need to get your hands dirty and do the work yourself.

So, I think it’s critical that you get as much hands on experience as you can in this class. And what you need to do this is a Linux server of your own, or several computers running Linux, where you can be the administrator and do anything you want, at least anything you want to do to your own computer.

While I would love to be able to give each of you a lab full of physical computers to play with, or laptops that you could take home, this isn’t practical or realistic. What we’ll do instead is build a set of virtual servers and network them together using Oracle Virtual Box as our virtualization platform. You should have used Virtual Box in past classes, using virtual machines (VM) that were already built for you, but you may not have experience setting up your own VMs. Don’t worry if this is the case, as you’ll gain plenty of experience creating and configuring VMs in Virtual Box in this class.

You can run Virtual Box and your Linux VMs on your own computer, or on the computers in our classroom. If you choose to use your own computer I can help you with Virtual Box to a point … but I have seen situations where a student’s computer doesn’t support virtualization or lacks the resources to run multiple VMs. If your computer is problematic you may have to do your hands-on work on the classroom computers or find your own alternative.

If you are taking the class online then you are responsible for finding a computer to use. Online students can make arrangement to use computers in one of the CBC Computer Science labs by contacting the instructor. If you choose to use your own computer and it does not support virtualization you are responsible for finding an alternative.

You will be given instructions on downloading and installing Oracle Virtual Box during class. You will also be given instruction on creating and running a Linux VM during class.

1 Do hands-on, technology-based activities enhance learning by reinforcing cognitive knowledge and retention? AR Korwin, RE Jones – Volume 1 Issue 2 (spring 1990), 1990 – vtechworks.lib.vt.edu (https://vtechworks.lib.vt.edu/bitstream/handle/10919/8413/jones.pdf?sequence=1)