Podcasts for System Administrators

Over the years I have slowly built up a collection of resources that I find valuable in keeping my skill set sharp and my abilities fresh.  One of the best resources, for me anyways, happens to be listening to podcast’s.  Podcast’s are a great learning tool, especially if you can get into the habit of listening to them frequently.  It is surprising how much of the things from those podcast’s stick in my head.  I tend to like listening to a podcast when I am driving or out by yourself on a walk/run or just doing some other physical activity.  I have found that this is a great method for me to escape from work and clear my head by engaging in some sort of activity while listening to a podcast.

I have experimented and listened to a wide variety of podcasts during this period of time.  Some of them have been less than great, but for the most part I think that I have found a good balance of technical and general level podcasts relating to a variety of topics within system administration and I feel like sharing the ones that I have gained the most from in the past few years.

So here is my list (in no particular order).

Security Now!
The title pretty much sums things up.  This is a video podcast (but audio only is just as good IMO) that focuses in on what is happening in the world of security in IT and computing.  There is a good mixture of broad technical information and news as well as great nitty gritty detail (for example deep dives into topics such as how TCP/IP works, which I highly recommend).  The co-host Steve Gibson does a great job of explaining things in detail, especially when it comes to very complicated and complex topic.  He has a brilliant way of making these topic easy to understand and not overly confusing.  Even though Leo Laporte annoys the living shit out of me, he and Gibson make a good pair and do a good job covering security in such a way that makes the topics in this category interesting.

Hak5
This video podcast is billed as a hacker oriented podcast.  A lot of interesting hacker and Linux topics are covered in this podcast as well as great in depth interviews among a variety of other things.  I personally love the cast of this podcast, which I believe makes it more enjoyable to watch.  I have learned probably more tips and tricks from this podcast than from any other and the format is in a style that is humorous as well as informative so it doesn’t usually get very boring.  I highly recommend this podcast if you are interested in hacking or Linux or other cool, little known about topics of interest.

Packet Pushers
If you are a hardcore networking guy, then this is a great podcast for you!  I have only recently been listening to this podcast but I can’t say enough good things about it.  The material is just about as technical as you can get, which is great for me.  The hosts and guests are top notch as well, as nearly if not all of them are prominent figures in the networking world.  I don’t know how they do it, but every one of their shows seems to keep my attention even if they are discussing a topic that is over my head.  I learn a ton from every episode I listen to and, as I said, if you have anything to do with networking then I would strongly suggest you check this podcast out.

RunAs Radio
This is another great sysadmin podcast plus Rich Campbell’s voice soothes me.  The people on this podcast are top notch as well, the guests are always interesting and the content is also very detailed and technical.  I have to admit that I tend to skip some of these just because they sometimes cover topics that don’t really pique my interest entirely but that being said, all of the shows are well done and informative and I’m sure would be of great value to others that had more of an interest in these areas.  This podcast usually isn’t drawn out like others, which is another reason I like it because it doesn’t give me a headache after listening to it.

FLOSS Weekly
I just found this podcast and am excited to try it out, it looks like there is a ton of interesting stuff in this podcast.  The main focus of the show is anything and everything open source.  There are interviews with figures is the open source world as well as news and other open source tools.  I will update this post once I listen to this podcast a few times to give more information about it.

PowerScripting Podcast
This show focuses on the world of Powershell.  I find this show to be helpful for me because I work in a Windows environment and I absolutely love Powershell for administration, chastise me if you must.  It is great to have a podcast that focuses on Powershell because I feel like it gives me an advantage over others just because I can keep an inside track on what kind of developments and other things are happening.  This show covers news, interesting topics within the Powershell universe and also have interesting and informative guests on the show as well. If you are a Windows admin or have anything to do with Powershell, I suggest you check this podcast out.

Podnutz Pro
This podcast takes you into the world of small to mid size business administration.  One of the co-hosts works for and MSP and goes through the details of his work.  It is interesting to see the point of view of somebody working in an MSP admin role because it is much different than that of a typical sysadmin.  There is a lot of good technical content in this show as well (can you tell I like the technical content?) and although there isn’t much in the way of outside guests for content they manage to do a pretty good job in finding interesting topics to cover in depth.  I must warn though, this content can sometimes get a little bit dry as well as dragged out at times though because the hosts of the show are admins, not radio show hosts.  Still recommended, just not all of it is as worthwhile as some other podcast’s.

The Linux Action Show!
Hands down the most informative Linux podcast I have come across.  They cover relevant topics, interview people in the industry and just do a great job overall.  The content they cover is interesting and the hosts of the show seem to be well informed and are entertaining as well.  They are nerds but they are great hosts and don’t have any trouble delivering their content and keep things fresh.  The delivery is crisp and smooth and their shows seem to flow very well.  I highly recommend this podcast to anybody working with Linux on a daily basis or even for people new to the Linux scene, the shows are done in such a way that pros and newbies should both feel welcomed.

TechSNAP
This is another podcast that I was recently turned on to so don’t have much to report on this one yet.  This show is similar to Security Now in some ways because it covers a lot of interesting security news.  My favorite part about this show though is that its not overdone with ads and they really don’t go on too many tangents unrelated to IT.  Another cool fact about the show is that some of the less common topics are covered, like a lot of talk about BSD and ZFS and how to use them, which has been helpful to me.  I recommend this podcast for anybody that enjoys show like Security Now as it is fairly technical but is really interesting.

The UC Architects
This is a great show that is relatively new that I just recently picked up on. This show covers all things Unified Communication, focusing primarily on Lync and Exchange but also covers many other topics in the Microsoft world as well.  There are some seriously smart people on this show as nearly all of the hosts and guests either are MVP’s, MCM’s or work for Microsoft.  I like this show because I have found it gives a great glimpse into the UC world that is not really covered very well elsewhere, it is more of a niche I would say and this is the place to go if you have anything at all to do with Exchange, Lync or any other Microsoft UC product.  This show has it all; in depth technical conversation, reviews, news and much more.

Stack Exchange Podcast
This podcast covers a number of interesting topics that revolve primarily around running a startup and everything that goes along with it.  Great guest interviews, tips and tricks about Stack Exchange, and a wide range of topics.  Here is a description from the site: “The Stack Exchange team gives you an unparalleled look inside the building and running of one of the web’s hottest startups: Stack Exchange. Instead of the typical podcast format, Jeff & Joel are joined by a different guest each week as they discuss the strategy and direction of Stack Exchange, the decisions they’ve made about the community and where things are going next.”

Healthy Paranoia
This is one of the newer IT related podcasts that I have found that I actually enjoy.  It presents some very technical information yet it isn’t difficult to follow.  The hosts and guests all have a solid foundation in security, so the quality of this podcast is pretty top notch.  The topics are broad enough though that you don’t have to be a super hardcore security pro to follow them, therefore the topics are interesting and are usually very relevant to what system administrators deal with in many security related areas.  I definitely recommend this podcast to any sysadmin that either has an interest in security or for any security pros out there looking to boost their knowledge, the show is accommodating and appealing to multiple different areas of IT.

BSD Now
A Weekly BSD Podcast – News, Interviews and Tutorials.  “We advocate the use of FreeBSDOpenBSDNetBSDDragonflyBSD and PC-BSD. Our show aims to be helpful and informative for new users that want to learn about them, while still being entertaining for the people who are already pros.”

DevOps Cafe
Interviews with interesting members of DevOps community.

The Joe Rogan Experience
Okay, so this podcast isn’t exactly geared towards system administrators necessarily but this show is really good and is hilarious (Joe Rogan is a professional comedian) and covers a variety of very interesting topics and features some genuinely funny, interesting and smart people.  There are even some IT pros that have been on the show, check out episode #361 if you want to listen to the VP of Cloud Security at Trend Micro talk about coffee, for example.  This podcast is a great addition to your collection if you want to learn something and be entertained but aren’t up for something that is too technical, its more of a show that you can just turn on and have in the background, which can be nice sometimes.

That’s it for now, I will be adding to and updating this list as I find more interesting podcast’s but I have to say these are among my favorites to listen to and watch right now.  They all have some sort of unique quality to them yet they all tie into system administration one way or another.  I’m sure there are other ones out there so if you know of any other good sysadmin podcast’s let me know and I will check them out and hopefully add them to this list.

About the Author: Josh Reichardt

Josh is the creator of this blog, a system administrator and a contributor to other technology communities such as /r/sysadmin and Ops School. You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook.