If you have ideas or notes or improvements, please create an account and i’ll open this up for editing. I want this list to be a great reference.
Scoring: 1 point for each correct answer, zero for “I don’t know” or an incorrect answer clearly identified as a guess, and -1 for obvious guessing or bs-ing. Basic Level Questions
- What do you consider your level of experience to be on a scale from 1 to 10 with 10 being Dennis Ritchie and 1 being a luser?
- Length of experience as a Unix user, as a System Admin.
- Describe what a day of system administration might be for you?
- How do you currently interface with customers?
- What is one of the more recent problems that you solved as a sysadmin.
- What Operating Systems are you familiar with
- BSD ( which variant )
- IRIX 6.x
- OSF/1 / Ultrix
- Linux ( which variant )
- TOPIX ( fat chance )
- SCO / XENIX
- Identify 5 options to the `ls’ command and what they produce.
- How many fields are there in a standard BSD 4.3 /etc/passwd file, without shadow password or other extentions?
- What is the default login shell if that field in /etc/passwd is left blank?
- What are the limitations on a user login name in /etc/passwd?
- How many characters are significant in a standard passowrd?
- What is the difference between sections 1 and 8 in the UNIX manual set?
- What is the difference between sections 4 and 5 in the UNIX manual set?
- What is the difference between sections 2 and 3 of the UNIX manual set?
- What does ‘init’ do and where does it live?
- Where would you find the numeric value of the SIGPIPE signal?
- What is the primary difference between SIGKILL and SIGTERM manual set?
- How do you unpack neattoy.tar.gz.shar.uu?
- What three commands are used to modify file ownership and permissions?
- What shell does cron(8) execute commands in?
- Name the 5 fields to cron.
- When is a user’s .cshrc file executed and when is his/her .login executed relative to .cshrc?
- What is an advisable way to set your PATH environment variable to protect yourself from unintentionally invoking trojan horses?
- What files, ownerships and permissions must be set for rsh to work?
- What umask value would prevent anyone but you from writing or executing your files but still allows reads?
- What is the difference between the real and effective UID of a process (UID vs. EUID).
- What command can a user use to see what his uid and groups are?
- What command is used to set the TERMCAP environment variable?
- What does the ‘resize’ command do and why won’t it work unless Xwindows is installed?
- How much room would you allocate for the primary filesystems ( /, /usr, /tmp, /var, /home, etc.. )?
- Why do the same binaries exist in /bin and /usr/bin ( sh, ls )? What is the difference between them?
- Name some packages that you generally install on every system.. why?
- How much swap space should you allocate for a system?
- What is the difference between .xinitrc and .xsession?
- Where is the configuration information for xdm?
- How would you add a new font to Xwindows?
- What does xhost do? Why is xhost bad?
- What does xauth do? Why is it good? What is a cookie?
- In what ways can a user customize his X environment for xterm?
- Name some window managers you are familiar with ( fvwm[1.24|2|95], mwm, olvwm, tvtwm, ctm, enlightenment, kwm, etc.. )
- What is the easiest way to tell which disk partition a particular file resides on?
- Describe an Inode and what it does.
- What is the difference between a hard link and a soft link?
- How do you make a link to a directory?
- How does the fsck(8) command determine in which order to check the filesystems at boot time?
- What is the “u” option to the dump command and why would you use it?
- What is the difference between /dev/sd0a and /dev/rsd0a?
- Where are system libraries kept?
- What does chroot do?
- If you are trying to unmount a filesystem, and the system says it is busy, how would you find out why?
- Where is the FAT and what do you do if it is corrupted?
- If you have hundreds of thousands of files in a directory, and you want to delete all but the ones that start with the letter “a”, how would you do it? ( contributed by Jason Fesler )
- What is the difference between a gateway and a router?
- What does the `archie’ tool do?
- What does a file named ‘blah’ linked to the rlogin program do?
- What is the class designation of an IP address (A, B, or C) used to determine?
- What class of IP address is 188.8.131.52?
- How many addresses does a 172.16.52/8 network have that are usable?
- What does the 127.0.0.1 address do? The 184.108.40.206 network?
- How many terminators does an Ethernet network have?
- Which system or systems on a network answers an ARP request packet?
- To use a serial port for both dial-in and dial-out, how must the system and modem be configured?
- Why should ‘routed’ always be run with the -q option or not run at all?
- What advantages does gated have over routed?
- How does one view the routing tables?
- What does the -m option to lpr produce?
- What is the command which controls or manages the BSD line printer daemon?
- What is the separator between messages in a UCB mbox mail file?
- What are some differences between BSD printing and SYSV printing?
- What must a text file begin with to be recognized as PostScript code?
- What is the difference between PostScript and Encapsulated PostScript?
- What is the `lf’ parameter used to designate in an lpd printer configuration (printcap) entry and why should you always define it?
- What do ‘if’ and ‘of’ do .. what is the difference between them?
- Name some common commands to lpc, to lpadmin.
- What is the configuration file for BSD printing? the directory structure for SYSV?
- What is CUPS?
- How do you forge mail “From firstname.lastname@example.org”?
- What port(s) does email use?
- If a user has a mail loop, what things should be checked at both systems involved to determine the source of the problem?
- What option to sendmail invokes rule parsing test mode?
- What option to sendmail runs it as a daemon?
- How do you create sendmail configurations on the fly?
- What file is used to configure postfix?
- Why is it better/worse than sendmail
- How many SCSI devices can be connected to a workstation with a single SCSI controller interface?
- What is the SCSI id number of a workstation SCSI controller interface?
- If a SCSI hard disk was formatted on a Sun and no data has yet been written to it, what needs to be done to use it on a non-Sun UNIX system?
- If you’ve been using a SCSI hard disk on a Sun, what do you need to do in order to move that disk to a non-Sun UNIX system and preserve the data.
- Where is the controller for an ATA disk?
- How many disks can be on an ATA cable?
- Where is the controller for an SATA disk?
- How many disks can be on an SATA Chain?
- What are the speeds of FW400, FW800, USB1.x, USB2.x
- How many disks can be on a USB chain?
- How does iSCSI work?
- What information is stored in a disk label?
- How does one format a disk ( newfs, mkfs, format )?
- Via NFS, by default the root access is enabled or disabled?
- On an NFS mounted filesystem, is a soft link is evaluated (followed) in the server hierarchy or client hierarchy?
- When you change /etc/exports, what must be done for mountd to recognize and incorporate the change?
- With what command can you see what another host is
- What is an automounter? What automounters are you familiar with? What is the difference between automounter and amd?
- What happens to the client when an NFS server goes down?
- What is a Stale NFS Handle? What can you do to get rid of it?
- Describe the client server relationship between a Yp server, a yp slave and a yp client.
- Describe how data is propegated to slaves from servers.. include a client.
- What happens to the clients on a subnet if the server crashes.
- How do you rebind ypbind?
- How do you view a ypfile on a client? the raw file on a server?
- How does a client locate a ypserver?
- How does a slave server know that maps on the master have changed?
- Why is it faster for ypxferd to transfer files? Where should it be run?
- Where does yppasswdd run… how does it work?
- What do you use to perform backups?
- What are the advantages of dump, tar, cpio ?
- What are some backup softwares you are aware of?
- Time Machine
- What is the difference between a level 0 and a level 1 backup?
- Why not do backups when users are active?
- Where are the files which are used to re-build a kernel? ( BSD / SYSV / OS Specific )
- What is the procedure for building a new kernel from a kernel configuration file?
- Name some configuration parameters that you generally change in a kernel ( MAXFILES, number of users )
- What file must be configured on all DNS clients and what are the minimum two lines it must contain to function?
- What ways may an IP can be resolved and how do you set the order? ( WINS, DNS, local files, NIS, LDAP ()
- What is the configuration file for named?
- What does the trailing dot signify in a db file?
- What must one do to have named know there’s an update in a config file?
- Name the three basic data types in perl?
- How would you use a case statement for perl?
- What does TIMTOWTDI mean? What is the camel and the llama?
- What is the difference between a package and a library?
- Name some perl modules you have used?
- What is rails?
- Give me an example of chained method calls?
- How does the system determine which shell to invoke to execute a shell script?
- What shell is used for default system bootup scripts?
- What are some differences between sh and csh? csh and tcsh? sh and bash? ksh and zsh?
- What’s your favorite editor?
- What are the keystrokes to change ’emacs’ to ‘vi’ in a file using vi?
- What can you use to edit a binary file?
- Have you ever built any open source softare from the ground up?
- Have you ever ported software to an unsupported platform?
- Do you know how to modify a Makefile?
- Where do you get your security information from?
- Name the last two security holes that you have plugged.
- What does a firewall do?
- Name some security software that you have used on your machines. ( Crack, cops, tcpd, fwtk )
- What does unix use by default to encode passwords? What is it’s strengths? it’s weaknesses?
- how does syslogging work?
- what are some of the facilities and priorities in syslog?
- what command can you use to make a syslog entry?
Specific Operating Systems
- How can you force a user to change his/her password when she next attempts to login?
- What keys can be used for backspace and delete ( as defined by stty ) at the login prompt?
- What is a volume group? A physical volume? A logical volume? A physical volume group?
- What is the advantage of vxfs over hfs? What extensions to that do Online JFS give you?
- How can you see what disks are assigned to what devices?
- Where are the initilization scripts kept? Where are the configuraion files kept?
- How would you edit the password file? Why not use vi?
- What happens if you edit the password file when the root filesystem is full and you try to write the file? Why is that bad?
- How do you install a patch from HP? What is a software depot?
- How does one add a user
- What file controls user password length and expiration?
- Where is the system configuration?
- How does one enable a service?
- How do you install packages?
- What is a volume group? A physical volume? A logical volume? A physical volume group?
- How does one see the configured interfaces?
- How do you see if an interface has more than 1 IP address assigned?
- How does one see the routes defined for this system?
- Where is the hostname defined?
- How does one add a user to a Mac System?
- What’s the difference/separation between NetInfo and local files?
- Where are system startup scripts kept?
- Where are user preferences kept?