Tools for IT services doesn’t just mean gadgets or hardware you wield with your hands and in fact the greatest tool of all is your brain but brains need to be filled with information to be of any use and so we need good sources of data to start from. Of course there is always Google and a billion blog posts and wiki articles to learn from (no guarantees they provide accurate information though) but despite the overabundance of online info, books are still fairly essential for anyone serious about learning or acquiring a reliable source of knowledge for use in the business or elsewhere. Of course these days the books are often read on a Kindle or some other ebook reader but that’s another matter!
For Techs and Sysadmins it is common to have to wear many hats and know many different technologies to a greater or lesser extent. So here I provide a selection of books for IT technicians and sysadmins covering several platforms and areas of IT, from very basic to more advanced, which should provide a sound base for anyone working in the field or who is just getting started.
Mastering Windows Server 2012 – helps you do what it says on the cover. Everything you need to know to install, update, manage and use Windows Server in the real world. It is well written and comprehensive and if you ever in need to admin a Windows box, this is the “go to” reference.
Learn Windows PowerShell 3 in a Month of Lunches by Don Jones, a man who clearly likes his lunches. This is a great introductory book on the ever popular PowerShell which gets you up to speed quickly on the essential commands but doesn’t cover too much in the way of scripting. Assumes no prior knowledge and is split into 28 chapters, designed to be read over one month (hence the name!).
When you’re ready to move beyond that one and onto creating scripts and tools with PowerShell then you’ll be wanting Learn PowerShell Toolmaking in a Month of Lunches by the same author which claims to get you “Creating reusable tools that the rest of your team can consume” and I’d agree with that – it is very handy and you’ll soon be banging out custom PowerShell tools which will surely impress everyone, or at least everyone that knows what it is.
Windows PowerShell Cookbook: The Complete Guide to Scripting Microsoft’s Command Shell – it’s a cookbook so you know what to expect from this type of book and this particular one is no exception. This will save yourself lots of time with your PowerShell needs as well as help you see how to do things you may not have known you would need until.. you needed!
Plus there’s a bunch of PDF books you can download direct from Microsoft if the aforementioned books are not enough for you to tame PowerShell.
You may be thinking there’s undue focus on PowerShell here but really it’s such a useful thing to know and will ultimately save you loads of time and effort so it is well worth getting to grips with.
UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook – This has been one of the top Linux/Unix admin books for a long time and despite being huge and packed with technical info, it still manages to remain surprisingly readable. Unfortunately one of its authors, Evi Nemeth, disappeared at sea a year or so ago so I don’t know if there will be another edition. Having said that there were three other authors involved so hopefully they can get the job done and avoid crossing any stormy oceans, remote mountains, war zones or busy roads in the meantime!
RHCSA/ RHCE Red Hat Linux Certification Study Guide – if you’re planning to become Red Hat Certified, this book is essential reading. It covers pretty much everything you need to know to pass the tests – note that Red Hat tests are practical, hands on labs, rather than just multiple guess type things so you really need to know what you’re doing and this book will help you get there but of course you still need actual systems to practice on.
General Sysadmin Books
The Practice of System and Network Administration – another classic sysadmin book, this time by Thomas A. Limoncelli (and others). Unfortunately the last published edition was 7 years ago, however the fundamentals and practices are pretty much the same at the higher level so it’s still well worth having. An update would be nice though. The information here applies to Linux, Windows and other OS’s as well and is, as the name implies, about the sysadmin practice as a whole, regardless of platform.
Given that sysadmin books tend to be hefty tomes, it would perhaps be advisable to start with Time Management for System Administrators by the same author, Thomas A. Limoncelli, otherwise you’ll never get anything done!
Update: The Practice of Cloud System Administration is also now available and although I personally haven’t read it yet, since it is also by Thomas A. Limoncelli & crew, I suspect it is sure to be worth having. (technically now there are 16 books on this list but it’s too late to change the title!)
Computer Security Books
Security is a hot topic these days and whether you have dreams of joining Anonymous or a secret three letter agency or just want to know what’s what so you can understand the security guru blogs, these books will help.
Metasploit: The Penetration Tester’s Guide – a popular and powerful framework for pentesting, if there’s one ‘hacking’ tool you plan to learn then this should probably be it. Grab yourself a copy of Kali, read this book and unleash your Metasploit kit! (ethically of course)
The Hacker Playbook: Practical Guide To Penetration Testing – this is a very highly rated book, well regarded by those working in security, which pretty much shows you how to do the pentest, step by step from A to Z. Even if you never plan to actually do pentesting yourself or for your clients, perhaps you will be hiring a pentester or outsourcing to one so with this book you will gain the knowledge necessary to make informed decisions. It’s also a fascinating insight into the practice of hacking.
[Security Scanning Tools]
Computer Networking Books
Sure Mr Universe might say you can’t stop the signal but if the network is down, so is the signal and all the servers are unreachable and the critical business of uploading selfies to Twitter will grind to a halt – clearly networking is important!
Computer Networking First-Step – there’s a lot of stuff going on behind the scenes which keeps us all connected and the selfies flowing and this book covers all the basics of networking so you will have a sound base upon which to build your networking expertise. If you’re planning on going for CCNA and the like, this would be a good place to start but even if you have no such certification intentions, this is just stuff you need to know.
Networking For Dummies – it may be a dummies book but that doesn’t mean it’s no good! Of course if you’re a network engineer, this stuff is way too basic for you (I hope!) but for those whose primary focus is or will be on other areas of IT and just want to get some general knowledge in this field or those who are just starting out and may later go on for more in-depth networking knowledge, this is a decent book to get the very basics covered. If you’re providing tech support to home computer users, this book probably covers most of their needs but for more complex environments you’ll be wanting more.
Network Warrior – when you’ve got your CCNA under your belt, it’s time to head into the datacenter and breakfix stuff which is when you’ll be needing all the Network Warrior skills this book will teach you. Be aware though it is CISCO centric, but other than that it’s great.
PC Repair Books
Fixing PC’s of some description is of course one of the more common tasks for a technician and there are a few decent books that cover this field.
Upgrading and Repairing PCs – now in its 21st edition, this book pretty much sets the standard for PC repair guides and should be on every techs bookshelf!
CompTIA A+ Certification All-in-One Exam Guide – if you’re planning on going for the A+ certification, this book will help you a lot. It is somewhat on the large side with 1200 pages so will keep you busy for a long time and covers pretty much everything you need to know to get A+ certified which is a good start for anyone looking to get into the PC technician field.
Of course there are other great books to be had and Amazon has them all (including those above) but hopefully you will find these
1516 useful. If you have any other recommendations, feel free to let me know in the comments!
Update: by popular demand I’ve added direct links to Amazon for each book!