Welcome to the Linux System Administration DeCal!

This course will cover the basics of setting up and administering a production-quality Linux server environment. By the end of this course, we expect you to:

The course will be taught in two sections: a “Beginner” section for students with minimal background in GNU/Linux or system administration, and an “Advanced” section for students with more experience.

While we expect many students will have a CS background, the only real prerequisite is a desire to learn about new and unfamiliar technologies, which is a critical skill for sysadmins. The Beginner section has been designed to introduce new users to Linux, and the Advanced section has been designed to give more experienced users a taste of what Linux is capable of.

Beginner Track Calendar

Week Date Lecture Title Lecturer Lab Lab Due Date
0 Tue. 09/03 Infosession Lab 0 Sat. 09/07
0 Thu. 09/05 Infosession Lab 0 Sat. 09/07
1 Tue. 09/10 History of UNIX, intro to shell, FOSS Andy Lo <andylo> Lab b1 Tue. 09/17
2 Tue. 09/17 Core Shell Stefan Kuklinsky <skuklinsky> Lab b2 Tue. 09/24
3 Tue. 09/24 Shell Scripting Bernard Zhao <bernardzhao> Lab b3 Tue. 10/01
4 Tue. 10/01 Compiling, Distros, and Packaging Ethan Smith <ethanhs> Lab b4 Tue. 10/08
5 Tue. 10/08 Networking 101 Tony Lian <longlian> Lab b5 Fri. 10/18
6 Tue. 10/15 Processes Rachel Gregory <regex> Lab b6 Tue. 10/22
7 Tue. 10/29 Services Ryan Chan <rrchan> Lab b7
8 Tue. 10/29 Security Fundamentals Ning Zhang <zhangning> Lab b8 Tue. 11/05
9 Tue. 11/05 Version Control and Backups Liam Porr <wporr> Lab b9 Tue. 11/12
10 Tue. 11/12 Cloud, Containers, and Config Management Ja (Thanakul) Wattanawong <jaw> Lab b10 Tue. 11/19
12 Tue. 12/03 Optional Guest Lecture: Careers in Tech Ethan Jackson -

Advanced Track Calendar

Week Date Lecture Title Lecturer Lab Lab Due Date
0 Tue. 09/03 Infosession Lab 0 Sat. 09/07
0 Thu. 09/05 Infosession Lab 0 Sat. 09/07
1 Thu. 09/12 Advanced Introduction to UNIX Mathew Cha <mdcha> Lab a1 Thu. 09/19
2 Thu. 09/19 Packages Mathew Cha <mdcha> Lab a2 Mon. 09/30
3 Thu. 09/26 DIY Linux Pre-Install Christopher Cooper <cooperc> Lab a3 Thu. 10/03
4 Thu. 10/03 Linux Post-Install Ethan Smith <ethanhs> Lab a4 Thu. 10/17
5 Thu. 10/10 Lecture Cancelled for Power Outage -
6 Thu. 10/17 Processes and Services keur Lab a6
7 Thu. 10/24 Guest Lecture: Developing at Scale ldw -
8 Thu. 10/31 Networking 102 abizer -
9 Thu. 11/07 Networked Services jvperrin -
10 Thu. 11/14 Config Management Frank Dai <fydai> Lab a10
11 Thu. 11/21 Advanced Security Mathew Cha <mdcha> Lab a11
12 Tue. 12/03 Optional Guest Lecture: Careers in Tech Ethan Jackson -
12 Thu. 12/05 Virtualization, Containers, Distributed Architecture Brian Sang <baisang> Lab a12



This is a 2 unit DeCal. Since it is a DeCal, the course is P/NP. You must attend an infosession and complete Lab 0 to apply. If you are selected for the course, we will send you a course enrollment code by September 9.


Lectures are scheduled for Tuesdays for the Beginner section and Thursdays for the Advanced section, from 8 to 9pm the OCF Lab, located at 171 MLK (MLK basement down the hall from the student store). Attendance is mandatory, with two allowed unexcused absences. Some other conflicts, such as exams, may be excused if you provide prior notice. Please only come to the lab on the day corresponding to the section you are in.

Lecture will double as office hours for students to come in and ask questions about the lab work. The one-hour “lecture” slot will include some lecturing but will also include time to to work on the lab assignment with the help of present facilitators. Note that we only have 30 computers in the lab, but 40 people are enrolled in each course, so please bring a laptop if you can.


The primary assignment in this course will be weekly lab work. Labs are designed to be be significantly hands-on. You will be working on real systems, configuring, and fixing things, setting up services, and so on.

Each lecture corresponds with a lab, labeled by a “b” or “a” (for Beginner or Advanced) and the week number. Except for b1 and a1, labs will general be released about a week ahead of the corresponding lecture. You are highly encouraged to look over the lab, and try to start it, before coming to lecture each week. This will allow you to better utilize the help of the facilitators, and will help you understand the lecture in a concrete way.

Each lab will be due before the following lecture. For example, lab a1 will be released about a week before lecture a1. Lecture a1 will be on Sept 13. Then lab a1 will be due before lecture a2 (that is, Sept 20 at 8pm). Please stay on top of lab work! If extenuating circumstances prevent you from completing your lab on time, please let us know as soon as possible and we will try to be accommodating. We expect that you turn in all labs on time, but allow two unexcused late labs to be turned in before the semester ends.

Course Staff

Picture of Stefan Kuklinsky

Stefan Kuklinsky Head Facilitator

sophomore studying computer science

Picture of Christopher Cooper

Christopher Cooper Head Facilitator

sentient table learning to tame computers

Picture of Bernard Zhao

Bernard Zhao Head Facilitator

They tryna be cray

Picture of Andy Lo

Andy Lo Facilitator

reincarnation of wittl here to bring balance to the universe

Picture of Tony Lian

Tony Lian Facilitator

This person has existed and hopefully is existing in the world.

Picture of Frank Dai

Frank Dai Facilitator

I'm the one who wears the 12-year old penguin costume

Picture of Ja (Thanakul) Wattanawong

Ja (Thanakul) Wattanawong Facilitator

ah, yes. enslaved silicon

Picture of Aditya Srivastava

Aditya Srivastava Facilitator

the sleeper must awaken

Picture of Kevin Kuehler

Kevin Kuehler Secret Agent

i use arch btw

Picture of Ning Zhang

Ning Zhang Facilitator

A very average person

Picture of Ethan Smith

Ethan Smith Facilitator

Doer of things

Picture of Rachel Gregory

Rachel Gregory Facilitator

i dont do much but im here anyways

Picture of Liam Porr

Liam Porr Facilitator

None of these things are comprehensible to you

Picture of George Lee

George Lee Facilitator

The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma

Picture of Mathew Cha

Mathew Cha Guest Lecturer

Resident OCF weirdo.