The Rules

1. Avoid nontechnical leadership positions.
2. Maintain the attitude that specialization is not bad, but avoid becoming "overly" specialized.
3. Learn anything associated with Internet technologies and services, including TCI/IP, Usenet news and sendmail.
4. Keep your C programming skills sharp.
5. Keep your Perl scripting skills sharp.
6. Keep your scripting-sed, awk, csh, sh, and regular expressions skills razor sharp.
7. Emphasize open technologies, such as X Windows, TCP/IP, SMTP, POP, IMAP, and standards. Any closed technology is apt to limiting. Don't exclusively learn or overemphasize any of these.
8. Get to know vi or emacs intimately. Learning vi is a good investment because it exists on every UNIX system known to man.
9. Boot up Linux for personal use. Use it, love it or hate it, but keep it up. The experience will sharpen your UNIX skills and running a Linux system in your garage or den will buy you a membership in a very special "serious techie" club.
10. Download and build every piece of public software you can get your hands on, for example, GNU, X, elm, pine, tinn, mutt, Netscape, Majordomo and INN. Even if you never use any of the tools you build, the experience of understanding, debugging, and troubleshooting your software installations will be invaluable.
11. Avoid reliance on GUIs. Use telnet, xterm, and command mode as much as possible. Don't lose touch with the commands you are invoking when you click buttons. Don't avoid window mangers-Open Windows and CDE make it wonderfully easy to do the 12 things at once required of us-just use them wisely.
12. Do not become so loyal to an operating system that you fail to learn some level of competence in the others. Even if your workplace supports only one platform, learn as much as you can about other vendors offerings. Today's Networks are increasingly heterogenous. Your next job, or the next challenge your current position, might require you to work cross-platform.
13. Learn enough Microsoft Corp. software (begrudgingly or not) to be able to work comfortably in a heterogenous network. Know how to set up TCP/IP on Windows systems. Learn Word and Excel. Learn PowerPoint. Work with the Windows NT Registry. Learn 95% of what a MCSE knows without taking the exams. Being able to integrate Microsoft "stuff" in an open environment might one day save your butt.
14. Create your own web page and do it with vi! Don't use a Web editor, code the HTML by hand.
15. Keep up to date on hardware. Don't upgrade your PC every day but make sure you know what's hot and what's not. Be familiar with what constitutes good performance (from a CPU and throughput standpoint) as you are with your children's bedtimes.
16. Cultivate the ability to RTFM. You don't need to know every innocuous command and protocol. You need to know how to find information and solve problems. Practice, practice, practice your research and problem solving skills.

Systems Administration Rules: By S. Lee Henry Sun Expert Magazine Jan 1999

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