A Very Quick and Easy Beginner’s Guide to Internet System Administration

I believe that there is a point in every web designer’s life wherein they veer towards the path of developer. This is happening partly because, in post-financial-crisis times, we are expected to put on many a hat in our working lives, and in general to do more with less. It should be no surprise to us, who know the ins and outs of the internet (or at the very least how to google it) that it is now our job to make sure that “things work”.

I said this would be quick and easy so I’ll get right to it. You’ve only ever messed with CSS and HTML before, and now you’re tasked with something that’s server-related. What should you do? My best advice is this: take time to really understand what it is you’re doing.

The problem is the easy part. Usually it’s something very simple, like:

  • Your website isn’t loading
  • Your website loads, but it’s just a blank page
  • You can send emails but you aren’t receiving them
  • You can send and receive email, but you don’t get the emails your website’s contact form sends

If you have absolutely no idea where to start when it comes to troubleshooting things like this, you need to learn about how this very complex system we call the internet works. But where to start? The quick and easy version of this is to simply link you to sites I’ve found helpful.

How Does the Internet Work? – You should start here, because if don’t really understand what’s happening when you try to access a webpage, troubleshooting problems is going to be pretty difficult.

UNIXhelp for users – Once you know what’s supposed to be happening, the next step is to understand how web servers works. Most web servers are going to be running some flavor of UNIX, so knowing what UNIX even is and how to use it for server administration is going to be important.

Taking the time to go through both of those guides should be a good start for anyone who is just trying to start out as a web developer or system administrator.

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