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August 2004 Archives

It's dawned on me that a great many small sites (and possibly big sites too) would be greatly helped if someone made a single box that included:

  • RequestTracker
  • Some kind of up/down monitoring system like Nagios or BigBrother
  • Some kind of capacity planning monitor like Cricket or MRTG
  • TWiki or other Wiki, with a pre-built set of pages
  • A serial console system like
  • Bacula or other free backup system

While none of those are difficult to install for an experienced Linux person, the goal would be a system that the common "Mr. Fixit" kind of sysadmin that serves small sites would be able to load a CD-ROM and have the entire machine working very quickly. Each application would be pre-installed, and pre-customized. For example, the install procedure would ask for the IP address of a few key servers, and Nagios would default to monitoring it. The Wiki would have pre-configured pages that include add/remove/change procedures the above items (how to add/remove/change a server that Nagios monitors, add/remove/change a file system that Bacula is backing up, etc.).

Sadly I do not have the time to run such a project but I hope someone else steals this idea. I have many other tips and ideas for such a project.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

BayLISA: Aug 19, 2004

Tom will be speaking at BayLISA at the Apple campus in Cupertino on Thursday, Aug 19 at 7:30pm:

"Where the hell is my flying car?"
It's 2004 and we still don't have moving side-walks or flying cars, and computers aren't nearly as cool as they were on The Jetsons. Tom has visited many sites in the last few years and observed a lot of really bad IT practices. He will discuss what he saw and some recent epiphanies he's had about "best practices" in system administration. The second half of the talk will be about his current project to update a small company's IT infrastructure. It has forced him to rethink what constitutes the "basic infrastructure" of an IT organization, and how big companies are held back when they forget the basics.
He's also working on a new book about time management for sysadmins, and will be treating us to some excerpts!
The presentation is free and open to the public.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in AppearancesArchive

One-day workshops and training programs serve a different purpose from week-long conferences. One-day seminars tend to be tactical: focused on a particular technology or skill. Week-long conferences are strategic: offering opportunities to discuss broader topics, to network, to build community, and to further the craft of SA as a respected profession. Week-long conferences give you "vision".

There is always one thing that I learn that makes me want to shout, "Oh Damn! That just paid for the entire conference!" There are many little "ah-ha!" moments too, but there's always one big one. Also there have been many times when I learned about a new sysadmin tool at LISA years before it was popular: that's really helped me stay ahead of the pack.

Week-long conferences have a powerful effect, providing a much-needed opportunity to relax, and they provide a supportive environment where you can take a step back from your day-to-day work and consider the big picture. Attendees return to their job brimming with new ideas and vision; refreshed, motivated, and with a new outlook.

While Christine and I usually don't endorse particular products (and neither does our book), we can't hold back our enthusiasm for the LISA conference which is put together by the Usenix (The Advanced Computing Systems Association) and SAGE (The System Administrators Guild) organizations.

We get a lot of value from their conferences. In fact, we met at one of them.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli