Over at cuddletech.com, a recent blog post described what goes into being a system administrator and what one should learn and remember as a system administrator. This is a phenomenal post, and covers a lot. Don’t read this post without reading that one.

A (unfairly) abbreviated list of his best points would be:

  • Go with your passion. Someone with a passion for the work will stand out from those who do not.
  • Be willing (even eager) to do the grunge work no one else wants to do. Tom Peters also makes this point (and often).
  • Remember that you also deal with people – and develop your people skills.

I’ve always had a passion for computing in general, and have developed many skills that dovetail into system administration nicely. Remember that World of Warcraft and Second Life are not going to improve your professional standing – whereas puzzling out that new version of Apache outside of work just might.

What are some personal projects one could take on (adjusted according to your passions) in order to become a more technically proficient administrator?

  • Install a DHCP server on your home network
  • Set up automated installs for whatever operating system suits your fancy
  • Configure thin clients for boot via PXE
  • Install a new operating system – then fix problems as they arise
  • Get some non-Intel hardware – and install an operating system on it – especially Linux on non-Intel
  • Create your own distribution – such as using Linux From Scratch or Core Linux
  • Configure a netdump or Linux Kernel Crash Dump facility – then try it.

However, don’t forget – this is only the technical side (and is UNIX/Linux biased to boot). Have I done any of these suggestions? Actually… I’ve done all of them. So what are you waiting for?

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