Since my "5 Things Every Good Linux Administrator Knows" post the other day, I've received some indirect feedback from friends and readers alike, that admittedly, leaves a little egg on my face. I left out three very important things that every good Linux administrator should know. I appreciate the feedback and I'm glad that my readers and those close to me feel enabled to let me know when I'm in error or at least falling short of a full delivery.

The 3 additional things that every good Linux administrator should know, in no particular order, are--

1. Backups - O Great Spirit, how could I have sinned such a great sin to forget this one (perhaps most important of all) issue? I do have an excuse: I work in a very large enterprise where people do specific jobs. It is a team environment where each team works as a spoke on a wheel--each as important as any other and all supporting the whole. I forgot backups not out of neglect but as something, that currently, is not part of my immediate concern. Backups and the ability to restore are of highest importance and priority to System Administrators (SA), users, and corporate management.
Perform daily backups. Test your backups by restoring a few innocuous files on a regular basis. If it isn't your job, it is still your responsibility to make sure that it gets done anyway.

2. Scripting and Automation - Most job descriptions require that a System Administrator know how to do some sort of programming, shell scripting, or coding. If you're a wise SA, then you'll do as much scripted automation through cron jobs and background processes as possible. Automation frees you up for other tasks and taking care of user requests.
Learn Shell Scripting. Use it to your advantage to automate backups and other repetitive processes. It increases your value to automate as much as you possibly can.

3. Communications - Now, you'd think that this would have been the first one I mentioned since I am a technical writer but it totally slipped my mind. It is also usually one of the top three things that you see in a job advertisement. Why is that? Technical people have the reputation of being poor communicators in both verbal and written communications and it is to your detriment. Communications skills are more valuable than any other skill you possess.
Learn to be an effective communicator. Take a class, become a Toastmaster, join a networking group, or practice writing for clarity on your own. Your resume is your first (and possibly only) view of your communications skills to a prospective employer--make an impact.

Arguably, there are other SA skill sets that one could list such as organizational skills, good spelling, attention to detail, people management, a positive attitude, and maybe several others.

Often, it seems, that co-workers and managers want someone who; is pleasant to work with, has a good and willing attitude, and possesses good communications skills. Practice those "soft skills." Technical competence is assumed.

Have something to contribute to this discussion? Please be thoughtful, detailed and courteous, and be sure to adhere to our posting rules.