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Introduction: Hacks #37-51
A system administrator's toolbox and desk tell you that his job requires that he wear many hats and use many tools. First, there are the hardware tools: screwdrivers, torx wrenches, CAT5 crimpers , duct and electrical tape, and of course, a hammer . Then there are the reference tools: books, manuals, CD-ROM documentation, and the secret phone number to upper- tier -vendor tech support. After these tools are the software tools: DOS boot floppies, driver CD-ROMs, BIOS flashing utilities, and a number of other special-purpose rescue disks. Lastly, there is the most important tool for a system administrator: caffeine .
Oftentimes, a system administrator doesn't know which of these tools he will be required to use in any given circumstance. "My computer is broken" or "the Internet is down" mean any number of things, so when an administrator goes to solve a problem, he often brings a number of different tools and is prepared for any problem.
Over time, a clever (or lazy, depending on how you want to look at it) administrator figures out how to consolidate all his most useful tools, just so there is less to carry. If you are this kind of administrator, Knoppix is for you. While a Knoppix disc is a great Linux demonstration tool for a new user and a great desktop environment for an average Linux user , in the hands of an experienced system administrator, it is the ultimate software toolbox for any number of auditing, troubleshooting, or emergency uses.
In this chapter, the hacks are roughly organized into two sections. The first section deals with tools that can help you administer a network. Knoppix not only comes with a lot of excellent tools to audit your servers over the network, but it can actually replace some of them in a pinch . The second section deals with tools that can help you administer local hardware. Here, you will find tools that help you clone, wipe, and scan hard drives , and probe hardware. The fact that all of these tools run directly from the CD means that you can take Knoppix to any computer on your network and turn it into a troubleshooting tool.
Knoppix might be worth considering as an option in a recovery plan. You could even create custom disks [Hack #94] that already contain any files and settings unique to your network, and any extra services or modules that Knoppix does not contain. Then, emergency failover from a crashed server would be as simple and as fast as booting a CD.
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