In another review, I wrote spoke of how numerous publishers of computer books are under the delusion that their books must be big and heavy to be of value. An editor at a major publishing company of computer books (who obviously requested anonymity) told me that to dominate the shelf space, many publishers produce large, fat computer books. I wrote how such books often have an extremely low knowledge-to-page ratio. The low knowledge-to-page ratio is used to detail how much actual learning is gleaned per page. When books are crammed with useless graphs, screen shots and illustrations, the knowledge-to-page ratio declines.
Luckily, O'Reilly & Associates ... do not follow such a creed. The reason O'Reilly books due not suffer from a low knowledge-to-page ratio is that they reason that their readers are smart, well-informed & experienced. Given such an assumption, O'Reilly does not need to pad their books with useless and redundant information. O'Reilly sees themselves as solutions providers to their readers, attempting to produce solid, decisive books. That is their intent, and they have succeeded marvelously.
Essential Windows NT System Administration is written not just to be a guide to Window NT, but rather to assist an NT administrator to work smarter and more productively. Frisch writes that her goal with this book is to assist system administrators in managing Windows NT systems as productively as possible, while making the task as pleasant and satisfying as can be. Giving the sometimes difficult nature of Windows NT, this is a lofty goal. The book covers the workstation and server versions of Windows NT 4 on both Intel and Alpha processor-based systems.
The books covers the following key areas of NT system administration:
· How Windows NT systems boot and how to shut them down · User account administration, including tips for managing large numbers of accounts · Creating file systems, including striped and fault-tolerant file systems, and securing their contents from unauthorized access · Sharing file systems via the network, using Windows NT's native share facility and other facilities such as Samba and NFS · General and advanced network configuration, including DHCP, DNS, WINS, routing, and RAS · Managing printers, including local printers, network printers, and printer pools · Managing processes, including the Windows NT schedule service, as well as performance optimization and capacity planning · Securing Windows NT systems, including implementing security policies and system auditing · Automating system administration tasks with scripts
The book opens with a brief overview of the responsibilities a system administrator and the NT tools available to help them do the job. Like most books, the first chapter is about the operating system architecture & design, administrative tools and wizards, NT trivia and legends, registry and the NT file system.
Chapter 3 provides a good synopsis of user account management, which is a frequent task for most system administrators. Standard NT users accounts and groups and how to modify them via User Manager is discussed in detail. Frisch spends a few pages discussing the bane of securing an NT network, that of passwords and password management. Penetration tools such as L0phtCrack ... can be used to recover passwords from a Windows NT server. Since NT Server doesn't store the actual passwords on an NT Domain Controller or Workstation, rather it stores a cryptographic hash of the passwords, L0phtCrack can take the hashes of passwords and generate the cleartext passwords from them. L0phtCrack can use both a dictionary attack and a brute force attack. The only negative thing I can say about the book is that it does not list any value-added vendors of NT tools and utilities.
Chapter 4 explains a topic that is elementary to Unix system administrators, but often enigmatic to their NT counterparts, that of processes & process management. From a technical point of view, processes are NT system objects that have a virtual address space, a chunk of executable code, system resources and one or more threads associated with it. By understanding processes and the underlying technology surround them, one can gain a tremendous grasp on how the internals of NT operate. With such information, management of NT systems becomes much simpler.
All of the chapters follow a consistent flow of providing thorough and clear instruction. After completing a chapter, one really gains a comprehensive understanding of the topic at hand. As an example, Chapter 10 takes in just under 50 pages is able to outline the NT security subsystem. Frisch provides a good overview of NT Domains and the trust relationships that go along with them. While this chapter won't make you a security guru, you will come out understanding NT security out
Chapter 11 performance optimization, is a subject that separates the men from the boys. While the installation of NT is simple, optimizing a server requires knowledge about numerous technical disciplines. The chapter details what is necessary to properly tune a NT server and how to figure out how to solve performance problems when they occur. The chapter also details a few of the crucial performance monitoring tools that come with NT.
The book concludes with an appendix of useful NT resources, including books, articles, software, mailing lists and more.
If you are looking for a book about NT without a lot of filler and repetitive facts, one that helps you work smarter and more efficiently, Essential Windows NT System Administration is the book for in. In under 500 pages, it provides you with a superb foundation of the fundamentals of NT.