Linux, the GNU System and other Free/Open Source Software are starting to make inroads into both the enterprise network, as well as small/medium networks. This transition from proprietary systems to open systems has left many stumbling blocks for Network Administrators making the change.

The biggest hurdle to overcome when making such a change is one of mindset. Proprietary Systems are comprised of different "products" that you purchase and learn to use to accomplish tasks. These products are usually self-sustaining software packages that include everything needed for it to work properly and (sometimes) work as advertised. Free/Open Systems, on the other hand, are comprised of different "tools" that accomplish different tasks. These tools rely on other tools within the system to do it's job properly. The entire system can be considered a single entity that relies on all of its tools to work properly.

To alleviate the necessity of knowing exactly how all of these different tools and services interact with each other, it is up to the Distributor to assemble all of the different pieces of a GNU/Linux System into a coherent Operating System that is relatively easy to setup and maintain. This is where Suse Linux Enterprise Server steps in.

Instead of having to manually configure all the services that comprise the system, Suse Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) includes the Yast configuration tool that allows you to quickly and easy deploy your server in any number of situations and configurations... all without having to know all of the intricate details of exactly how all of the system's services work. Yast is so powerful that almost any network administrator can easily deploy Suse Linux Enterprise Server within their network with little or no GNU/Linux experience.

To help you along with your deployment of Suse Linux Enterprise Server, I have attempted to compile all the information that I have gathered over the last 5 years of using SLES into this book. This is by no means the "ultimate" resource to deploying Suse Linux Enterprise Server, nor is it meant to "hold your hand" while deploying SLES. It is simply a tool that I use to deploy and maintain a Suse Linux Enterprise Server.

As this book was being written, I focused on accomplishing a few tasks with this book. The first task was to make sure that it would be easy to install/configure SLES in a step-by-step fashion. To do this, all of the chapters are logically ordered in how you should probably configure your server. I also tried to give any relevant information on what to look for in regards to successfully implementing each service within your environment.

The next item I focused on was to provide any information that may be needed in order to maintain your server properly. For instance, I cover how to handle certain situations, such as how to replace a hard drive within a RAID array or the process of backing up and restoring certain services that you may deploy on your server. I know I did not cover every possible scenario, but hopefully I have given enough information for you to start from.

The final item I wanted to focus on with this book is the process of documenting your Suse Linux Enterprise Server deployment. One of my biggest "pet peeves" when working on a network that other people have setup is the lack of documentation available. I don't know how many hours that have been wasted in trying to figure out how or why a server was configured in a certain way (especially when trying to delve into the vast wasteland of Microsoft's Active Directory). To make it as pain free as possible for any lazy administrator to fully document their Suse Linux Enterprise Server deployment, I have included quite a few worksheets at the end of this book to help you accomplish this task.

As a whole, the purpose of this book is to allow you to easily install, configure and document a SLES based server, then leave the book with the server to give anyone (who happens to find the need to adjust or fix any part of the server) all of the information they need about your deployment.

Finally, please overlook all of the typos, run-on sentences, grammatical errors, etc. you may encounter in this book, not for a second do I mistake myself for a highly talented writer.

I hope you find all of the information provided a valuable asset to add to your toolbox. If you happen to be new to the world of GNU/Linux, I applaud your decision and hope the best for you in your journey to the land of the Free! I distinctly remember the feeling I had after installing my first Suse Linux Enterprise Server within a production environment - at first the uneasy notion that maybe nothing would work as it should, followed by the unbridled joy of knowing that everything was working properly and would continue to do so as long as the server had power.

Ever since then, I have no longer relied upon "a hope and a prayer" that a Microsoft Windows Server (or any other proprietary system) would continue to work correctly, and instead have switch nearly every server that I maintain over to Suse Linux Enterprise Server (or another GNU/Linux Distribution).

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