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Operating Systems Administration (ASO)

Credits Dept. Type Requirements
6.0 (4.8 ECTS) AC
  • Compulsory for DCSYS
  • Elective for DIE
SO - Prerequisite for DIE , DCSFW


Person in charge:  (-)

General goals

This subjects aims for students to attain the level of competence necessary to carry out the tasks of a "junior" system administrator (according to the definition of the System Administrators Guild), which include the following:
-  The ability to independently manage a small installation (10 machines, all running on the same operating system, with up to 20 users), or a larger installation under the supervision of a more experienced administrator.
-  Direct attention to users.
-  Reception of problems, classification and forwarding of user claims to the appropriate administrator.

Specific goals


  1. The tasks of a systems administrator and the knowledge required to discharge these functions.

    The ethical code applicable to system administrators.
  2. Familiarity with most UNIX commands at both user and administrator levels.
  3. Configuration of local services: temporisation and printer
  4. Configuration of the main network servers: www, email, ftp, nfs, samba
  5. Main aspects of system security. Prevention of local attacks (i.e. by users) and remote attacks (from external systems).


  1. Operating system planning and installation. Disk partitioning. Basic configuration.
  2. Adding, removing and disabling users. Maintenance of the system"s databases.
  3. Installation and configuration of applications. Maintenance of various versions of an application.
  4. System monitoring and process management.
  5. Maintenance of system files. Making and restoring back-ups.


  1. Ability to act independently: Know how to work on one"s own with just the bare minimum of knowledge and guidance.
  2. Ability to learn on one"s own.
  3. Ability to relate to others. Receptiveness to the ideas of others.
  4. Ability to solve poorly-structured problems.
  5. Ability to take take decisions when faced with uncertainty or contradictory requirements


Estimated time (hours):

T P L Alt Ext. L Stu A. time
Theory Problems Laboratory Other activities External Laboratory Study Additional time

1. Introduction to the administration of operating systems
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
2,0 0 2,0 0 4,0 0 0 8,0
Description of the systems administrator"s role: tasks and duties, knowledge required, code of ethics. Information sources and documentation.

  • Laboratory
    File system navigation(cd, ls), handling files and directories (mkdir, rmdir, cp, mv, rm), on-line help (man, apropos), searching for information in files (grep, find), familiarisation with the "vi" editor. Programming basic shell scripts.
  • Additional laboratory activities:
    Refresher course on UNIX (user level): file navigation system, file and directory handling, on-line help, searching for information in files, file edition using "vi" (interactive text editor). Basic knowledge of shell scripts.

2. Installing the operating system
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
2,0 0 6,0 0 0 4,0 0 12,0
Planning the installation. Disk preparation: file system partitioning and formatting. Organisation of the UNIX file system. Swap area. Basic configuration. Starting and stopping the operating system.

  • Laboratory
    Planning a Linux installation. Creating disk partitions. Formatting the file system. Mounting the file system. Installing the Linux OS. Configuration of the operating system boot up.
  • Additional laboratory activities:
    Commands related to disk partitioning: fdisk, mke2fs, mkswap, mount.

3. Managing users
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
2,0 0 2,0 0 0 4,0 0 8,0
The system"s databases. Adding, removing and disabling users. Permissions and protection mechanisms. Users and special groups.

  • Laboratory
    Creating users in a Linux installation, bearing in mind access restrictions on sharing files and directories. Creating special users.
  • Additional laboratory activities:
    Commands related to disk partitioning: adduser, deluser, chmod, chown. Significance of the various permission in directories, device files, and data files. Bits in SETUID and SETGID.

4. Managing applications
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
2,0 0 2,0 0 0 4,0 0 8,0
The UNIX file system. Installing applications. Maintaining differences version of an application. Software distribution formats.

  • Laboratory
    Installing and configuring a Linux application. Executing application tests.
  • Additional laboratory activities:
    Related commands: zip, rar, tar, gzip, configure, make.

5. System monitoring
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
1,0 0 0 0 0 4,0 0 5,0
Process management. Process management tasks. Monitoring users. Disk monitoring.

  • Additional laboratory activities:
    System monitoring tools: ps, top, iostat, vmstat, du, df, w, last.

6. Maintenance of system files
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
3,0 0 2,0 0 0 4,0 0 9,0
File verification, optimisation, and repair. RAID systems. Backups.

  • Laboratory
    Carry out and restore backup copies (complete and incremental copies) in Linux, employing the most commonly used tools for this purpose: tar and dump.
  • Additional laboratory activities:
    Security copy tools: dump, tar, gzip, zip

7. Local services
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
2,0 0 4,0 0 0 6,0 0 12,0
Task temporisation and automation. UNIX printing system. Information services.

  • Laboratory
    Advanced programming of shell scripts using shell language (sh) and Perl. Temporised execution of shell scripts using AT and CRON. Automation of certain operating system maintenance tasks.
  • Additional laboratory activities:
    Shell script programming languages: shell, perl. Related commands: finger, id, whois, w, rusers.

8. Network services
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
6,0 0 6,0 0 0 6,0 0 18,0
The superserver. Portmapper and RPCs. Domain Name System (DNS). File Transfer Protocol (FTP). World Wide Web (HTTP). E-mail (SMTP).

  • Laboratory
    DNS client configuration. DNS server configuration (primary and secondary).
    Installation and configuration of a Web server (Apache). Creation of CGIs and generation of dynamic Web page content.
  • Additional laboratory activities:
    Configuring NFS and SMB (Samba). E-mail filters. Basic notions of Web pages: HTML.

9. File services
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
2,0 0 2,0 0 0 4,0 0 8,0
Network File Systems (NFS, SMB). Network Information Systems (NIS).

  • Laboratory
    Configuring the Samba server. Mounting remote directories in a mixed Windows/Unix network.
  • Additional laboratory activities:
    Configuring NFS and SMB (Samba).

10. Protection and security
T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
4,0 0 0 0 0 6,0 0 10,0
Local security: permissions and protection mechanisms, user authentication, access to devices Network security: active services, connection filter. Security auditing. Encryption and digital signatures.

  • Additional laboratory activities:
    Reading and comments on computer security. Security auditing tools.

Total per kind T      P      L      Alt    Ext. L Stu    A. time Total 
26,0 0 26,0 0 4,0 42,0 0 98,0
Avaluation additional hours 20,0
Total work hours for student 118,0

Docent Methodolgy

A combination of lectures, co-operative learning, lab sessions, and individual work is used in order to attain the course objectives.

The theory classes combine: the teacher"s exposition of the main concepts; co-operative learning, carried out in groups and covering some of the concepts set out by the teacher; individual study using the bibliography and dealing with those concepts not covered by the teacher.

Practical classes test students ability to put the knowledge and skills they have acquired into practice in a real situation, in which they act as system administrators of their respective machines.

Evaluation Methodgy

The final grade for the course is based on an assessment of students" theoretical knowledge and the results of a lab test.

The grade for theory will be based on one or more part exams (P) throughout the term and a final exam (F). If the grade (P) is at least 6 the final exam will be optional. Practical work will be assessed on the basis of an individual test carried out in the last weeks of the course (L).
Additionally, an optional assignment (Opt) can be part of the grade upon agreement with the professors.

Schematically the evaluation is computed as follows:

If (P) >= 6 and the final exam was not taken
Grade = 50% (P) + 50% (L) + (Opt)
Si (P) > (F) -> Grade = 25% (P) + 25% (F) + 50% (L) + (Opt)
Si (P) <= (F) -> Grade = 50% (F) + 50% (L) + (Opt)

Basic Bibliography

  • Evi Nemeth ... [et al.] UNIX system administration handbook, Prentice Hall PTR, 2001.
  • leen Frisch Essential system administration, O'Reilly, 2002.
  • Craig Hunt TCP/IP network administration, O'Reilly, 2002.
  • W. Richard Stevens TCP/IP illustrated, Addison-Wesley, 1994-1996.

Complementary Bibliography

  • Simson Garfinkel, Gene Spafford & Alan Schwartz Practical UNIX and Internet security, O'Reilly, 2003.
  • Murray Stokely and Nik Clayton, [editors] FreeBSD handbook, FreeBSD, 2002.
  • Varios autores The Linux System Admionistrator's Guide, Linux Documentation Project, 2001.
  • Varios autores Linux Network Administrator's Guide (version 2), Linux Documentation Project, 2002.

Web links





Previous capacities

User knowledge of UNIX: File system navigation (cd, ls), on-line help (man, apropos), searching for information in files (grep, find), familiarisation with the "vi" editor.

Basic knowledge of shell scripts.

Programming knowledge in "C", and the Make tool.

Knowledge of the internal structure of the operating system. Process table, input/output system, device descriptors, file systems, inodes, virtual memory.


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