88324 - System Administration T

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

Industry, innovation and infrastructure

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

Explaining the essential principles and to illustrate the main tools relevant for the administration of networked computing systems. At the end of the course, the student has acquired • knowledge of the topics of system configuration, monitoring, troubleshooting; • the skills to automate these activities in large-scale, heterogeneous scenarios.

Course contents

The goal of this course is to present the main subjects related to system administration, and to provide some fundamental skills needed to configure and monitor GNU/Linux systems in particular.


The program is composed of five main areas:
- Local administration: hardware set-up, user account management, authorization mechanisms on the Unix and NTFS filesystems,  command line tools to configure processes and to monitor resource usage, standard daemons used for the automation of the administration tasks (e.g. scheduled execution, logging, ...); 
- Network management: interface and routing configuration, connection monitoring tools;
- Centralized monitoring: a short introduction to the platforms used in large and/or heterogeneous installations, the SNMP protocol;
- Centralized configuration: overview of practical usage of protocols used for automatic network configuration (RARP, BOOTP, DHCP,DNS), centralized authentication and distribution of configuration parameters at the application level by means of LDAP, a short overview of Active Directory;
- High availability distributed systems: basic concepts about availability, tools for reliable data storage (RAID, backup techniques), cluster architectures for the highly available provisioning of network services.

Bash shell programming is introduced and discussed in some depth during the whole course: it is the foundation for practical activities regarding the theoretical subjects.


On-line manuals on the lab workstations and virtual machines.

Handouts by the teacher, available on IOL. On the same website, many old exams are available; for some, solutions are provided.

Guidebooks published for free by Truelite: https://labs.truelite.it/projects/truedoc/wiki

The closest match to the course's contents:

"Unix and Linux System Administration Handbook - 5th edition" di Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Trent R. Hein, Ben Whaley, Dan Mackin; ed. Addison Wesley Professional (2017) - ISBN-13: 978-0134277554

For anyone wishing to acquire some knowledge about Microsoft Windows:

"Mastering Windows Server 2019 - Second Edition" di Jordan Krause
- Packt Publishing (2019)



Teaching methods

The course yields 6 CFU/ECTS corresponding to 60 hours of lectures and guided lab activities, with a prevalence of the latter.

The theoretical bases of the techniques of system administration are presented during traditional lectures.

During lab sessions, the command line tools in the GNU/Linux environment, useful to deal with the subjects treated in the lectures, are introduced. Then, students are guided to design and implement scripts to solve proposed study cases, to improve their problem-solving skills in real-world scenarios.

Attendance is strongly recommended, especially to lab sessions. Slides are a guidance, but lectures explain what to focus the study on. Guided lab activities are the best way to understand the real level of difficulty of different exercises.


Please note that according to the ECTS definition, each credit represents 25 hours of student effort: students are expected to contribute 90 hours of individual study and autonomous lab activity to the improvement of their skills. To this end, extensions to the guided lab activities are regularly suggested. It is essential to stay on par with the proposed exercises.

Students must attend the mandatory safety training prior to access the university classrooms and labs, if they want to attend the lectures in person

Assessment methods

  • The exam is split in two parts: a lab exercise, and a verification of knowledge of theoretical themes.
  • To pass the exam, it is required to get a passing mark in both parts; the final grade will be computed as a combination of the marks achieved in the two parts.
  • For students choosing the course as an elective (code 88324 or as part of the integrated activity with code 88326) the result will be expressed on the usual scale (18-30+honors).
  • For students choosing the course as a replacement for internship (code 28072), the result will be recorded as pass/fail.
  • The lab exercise is designed around the subjects proposed during the lab sessions of the course. During the test, candidates are allowed to use teaching materials, notes, and software components prepared by themselves.
  • The verification of knowledge of theoretical themes may be offered as a test (with answers in closed or open format) or a discussion. Regardless of the format, no study materials shall be used during this part of the exam.
  • Date and time of exams are published on AlmaEsami. Subscription is mandatory.
  • Students are kindly asked to act in a civil manner, avoiding to fill the lists up if they are unlikely to show up, and especially not subscribing to more than one list.
  • FAILED LAB EXAMS: students failing the lab exercise MUST meet with the instructor to discuss their work before being allowed to try again.

Teaching tools

Lectures: projection of slideshows and practical demonstrations of the tools object of the discussion.

Practical laboratory activity: the teacher will guide the students to learn tools and solve problems regarding almost every subject of the course.

A virtualized environment is available, allowing to simulate realistic architectures made of clients, servers, and routing devices, where students can work with administrative privileges. Students can deploy the same virtual machines on their computers, thus being able to access at home the same work environment they find in the laboratory.

Office hours

See the website of Marco Prandini