Awesome Conferences

January 2013 Archives

This month the NJ chapter of LOPSA's meeting will be something special. Rather than meeting at a library near Princeton, there will be two meetings on the same day: one north and one south. Each meeting will be held at a diner and there will be a suggested discussion topic. Generally someone takes notes at each diner and posts them online. It is interesting to see what each group does with the topic. We've done this a few times before and the discussion is always quite lively.

This time the topic is: What's the best new tool you've started using in the last 24 months? It doesn't have to be new, just new to you.

The "northern" meeting is at the Park Wood Diner in Maplewood, NJ.

The "southern" meeting is at the Princetonian Diner in Princeton, NJ.

Both meet on Thursday, February 7th, 2013 at 7pm.

For info and to RSVP go to

I'll be at the northern meeting. I hope to see you there!


P.S. Rush-hour traffic can be a bear in Maplewood. I suggest people leave early or do what I do: take the train!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Community

What's wrong with this as a way to turn a hostname into a FQDN?

FQDN=$(getent hosts "$SHORT" | awk '{ print $2 }')

Answer: getent can return multiple lines of results. This only happens if the system is configured to check /etc/hosts before DNS and if /etc/hosts lists the hostname multiple times. There may be other ways this can happen too, but that's the situation that bit me. Of course, there shouldn't be multiple repeated lines in /etc/hosts but nothing forbids it.

As a result you can end up with FQDN="hostname.dom.ain hostname.dom.ain which, and I'm just guessing here, is going to cause problems elsewhere in your script.

The solution is to be a bit more defensive and only take the first line of output:

FQDN=$(getent hosts "$SHORT" | head -1 | awk '{ print $2 }')

Of course, there is still error-checking you should do, but I'll leave that as an exercise to the reader. (Hint: You can check if $? is non-zero; you can also check if FQDN is the null string.)

Technically the man page covers this situation. It says the command "gathers entries" which, being plural, is a very subtle hint that the output might be multiple lines. I bet most people reading the man page don't notice this. It would be nice if the man page explicitly warned the user that the output could be multiple lines long.

P.S. I'm sure the first comment will be a better way to do the same thing. I look forward to your suggestions.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Technical Tips

Cascadia IT Conference 2013 has announced their tutorial lineup and it looks great! If you are in the Seattle area, or can travel there, this is a can't miss conference!

Here are some of the tutorial titles:

  • Root Cause analysis -- Intermediate
  • PowerShell Fundamentals
  • Building Your Powershell Toolkit
  • Resolv the World with Chef: An Introduction to Chef for Sysadmins
  • Build A SysAdmin Sandbox
  • An Introduction to Puppet
  • Navigating the Business World for Sysadmins: The Trusted Adviser
  • Navigating the Business World for Sysadmins: Methods
  • IPv6 -- An Introduction
  • The Compassionate Geek: Mastering Customer Service for IT Professionals
  • Over the Edge System Administration

The technical sessions will be announced in a few days followed by registration.

For more info go to

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in CommunityConferences

Went to Epcot

Mission: Space is still the best ride ever invented.

Here's a postcard: from spaaaaace

How was your December break?

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Reviews

Jan 1 reminder:

If you use "The Cycle", today is the day you review your "long term goals" list. Cross out obsolete items or items that you now realize only seemed like a good idea at the time. Pick the 1-2 most important ones. Discuss them with your partner/wife/husband/spouse/family and set goals of the year.

For each goal, come up with 5-6 milestones that will get you to that goal. Milestones should be measurable. Sprinkle the milestones on the todo lists throughout the next couple of months. (In The Cycle, you have a different todo list for each day of the year; incomplete items slide to the next day.) For example, put one milestone on the todo list of each of Jan 1, Feb 1, March 1, and so on. At the start of each day allocate time for one of these big goals until it is complete.

This tip comes from Chapter 7 on "Life Goals" in Time Management for System Administrators. You might find it useful to re-read this chapter today. It is a short chapter so take some time to do that right now.


Today is also the first day of the month. The "monthly tasks" on your todo list should kick in today. Do any once-a-month routines (for example... call your mom!). Typically today you will get many emails reminding you which mailing lists you are on. Remember that it is better to unsubscribe than to delete without reading.

Have a happy new year! 2013 is going to be great!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time Management