Awesome Conferences

August 2013 Archives

O'Reilly Velocity Conference Hey all my NYC peeps! Velocity comes to NYC in October. That's just a few weeks away!

My awesome coworkers Steven, Nick, and George will be giving a talk about how works. It will also be the first public talk about "SE Status" our dashboard.

Register today and I'll see you there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

Considering all the security issues raised this year, isn't it time you built a private cloud?

Build a Cloud Day will be dedicated to teaching users how to build and manage a cloud computing environment using free and open source software. The program is designed to expose attendees to the concepts and best practices around deploying cloud computing infrastructure. Attendees should expect to learn how to deploy a cloud computing environment using CloudStack and other cloud infrastructure tools that automate server and network configuration for building highly available cloud computing environments.

Registration for Build A Cloud Day is free, but space is limited. LISA registration is not required to attend Build a Cloud Day, however Build a Cloud Day attendees receive a $75 discount on the 3-day technical session registration. Please use the discount code: LISA13CLOUD

Get more information and register at

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Usenix

It isn't on the website yet, but the September meeting will have a special guest:

Title: Anatomy of a Supercomputer: The architecture of the IBM Blue Gene /P.

IBM refers to their Blue Gene family of super computers as 'solutions'. This talk will discuss the problems facing HPC that the Blue Gene architecture was designed to solve, focusing on the Blue Gene /P model. To help those unfamiliar with high-performance computing, the talk will begin with a brief explanation of high-performance computing that anyone should be able to understand.


Prentice Bisbal first became interested in scientific computing while earning a BS in Chemical Engineering at Rutgers University. After about 2 years as a practicing Engineer, Prentice made the leap to scientific computing and has never looked back. He has been a Unix/Linux system administrator specializing in scientific/high performance computing ever since. In June 2012, he came full circle when he returned to Rutgers as the Manager of IT for the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute (RDI2), where he is responsible for supporting Excalibur, a 2048-node (8192 cores) IBM Blue Gene/P Supercomputer.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

I met Jeevitha Mahendiran at Usenix LISA last year. She is studying sysadmins and what we do. She writes:

I'm Jeevitha Mahendiran, Graduate Student/Research Assistant Faculty of Computer Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Canada. Currently doing a research on "Understanding the Use of Models and Visualization Tools in System Administration Work". The information that the you share regarding your work will be very helpful for my research.

We are seeking participants to take part in a study about the tools used by system administrators. Participants will be asked to complete an anonymous and confidential survey that should take about 20-30 minutes to finish. The study is an online survey.

If you are interested in more information about the study, please contact Jeevitha Mahendiran by email at [email protected] or proceed to the survey website at

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Academic study of SA

The search for Evi Nemeth and the others onboard the Nina has been restarted. The the crowd-sourced search of 56,000 satellite pictures appeared to find an orange/yellow object to the west of Norfolk island. The life-raft was orange:

Read more: The Nina: Fresh search for missing yacht

The project is being funded by donations. To donate visit the Danielle Wright Search Fund.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Evi Nemeth

If you are sad you can't attend PuppetConf 2013 this week, start planning for Puppet Camp DC. It is co-located with the Usenix LISA conference, which is Nov 6-9, 2013 in Washington D.C.

Puppet Camp DC is a community-oriented, regional gathering of Puppet users and developers. You'll have the opportunity to talk to a diverse group of Puppet users, benefit from presentations delivered by prominent community members, and share experiences and discuss potential implementations of Puppet with your peers.

Registration for Puppet Camp is free, but space is limited. To continue your "Automation" education USENIX is offering a discount to all Puppet Camp attendees. If you register for Both Puppet Camp DC and LISA you will receive a $75 discount on the 3-Day Technical Session Pass. Use Discount Code: LISA13PUPPET during your LISA registration.

To register, find out more about the event, or propose a talk, go here

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in PuppetUsenix

Topics include:

  • Helping your coworkers understand and agree to your awesome ideas
  • Convincing your manager about anything (really!)
  • Turning the most stubborn user into your biggest fan
  • Getting others to trust you so they are more easily convinced
  • Deciding which projects to do when you have more projects than time
  • Making decisions based on data and evidence
  • Driving improvements based on a methodology and planning instead of guessing and luck

The only place you can find this class is at Usenix LISA, Nov 3-8, 2013 in Washington DC. Register TODAY!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Usenix

The training this year has a lot of advanced topics that will bring a smile from anyone working in a DevOps environment. Tutorials on Jenkins, build-your-own-cloud, and a Googler will teach a class called "SRE University".

There are a lot of specific technology tutorials: IPv6, file systems, Puppet, Python and a RaspberryPi class for people that want to move it beyond being a toy.

I noticed a bunch of new security tutorials.

I'll be teaching my new class 'Evil Genius 101' which is about how to convince your coworkers to get on board with your evil plans for world (or at least network) domination.

Get ready for LISA '13 in Washington, D.C.. The 27th Large Installation System Administration Conference. November 3-8, 2013

NOTE: LISA is a lot earlier this year!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Time ManagementUsenix

Do not do this at home:

That's just wrong.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli

Recently on a mailing list sysadmins were describing horrible management they've experienced. Here is my reply:

First, I want to say that my heart goes out to all of you describing terrible working conditions, bad management, and so on. I have huge amounts of sympathy for you all.

Health is more important than anything else. If your job is driving you crazy and giving you high BP, my prescription is, 'Try, try, then quit'. Try to change things, talk to management, work to create the workplace you desire. Try again, I'm sure you feel like you've tried a lot, but people aren't mind-readers... make sure you've had serious conversations with the right people. However step three is quit. Send resumes and get the hell out of there.

It is vitally important that we don't feel any guilt about leaving a bad job, especially if we've made a "good faith effort" to turn things around (as I'm sure you have). Just like when people being laid off are told, heartlessly, "Sorry, it was a business decision" there are times you have to tell a company, "Sorry, it was a personal decision". (I want to acknowledge that not everyone is in a position where they can just up and leave. Being able to do so is quite a privilege, but I think people that work in IT are more likely to be in this position than most fields.)

There are two reasons we shouldn't feel guilt about leaving these kind of "bad jobs". First, our health is more important than anything else. Second, it is important that we don't try to 'save' companies that are intrinsically bad at IT management. I say this not as a joke and I don't say it lightly. If you feel a company is incurably bad at IT, it makes the world a better place for that company to go out of business. IT is the lifeblood of companies. It is a requirement for nearly any facet of business to function in today's world. Companies that treat IT has an appendage are dinosaurs that need to be left to die.

IT is not a "speciality". It is a skill everyone should have. Any CEO, COO, or VP that doesn't understand IT and IT MANAGEMENT that ALSO thinks they don't need to understand it is fooling themselves. Expecting only the people in the IT department to have IT and IT management skills is insane. Expecting that IT and IT management astuteness only needs to be found in the IT department is insane. Companies don't have a 'math department' that people run to any time they need to add, subtract, multiply, and divide. They expect everyone to have basic math skill and only turn to mathematicians for advanced or specialized mathematics. Similarly a modern company must expect that every staff person understands the basics of IT and every manager, VP, and CxO executive should be expected to understand IT and IT management as it is a fundamental, essential, part of doing business.

IT and IT management is as essential to a business as accounting is. You don't expect your CEO and other managers to be experts at accounting, but you expect them to understand a lot more than just the basics. However if, during a job interview, you learned that the CEO didn't know that accountants existed, or thought financial statements "magically wrote themselves" you would run like hell as fast as possible, right? You would reject any job offers and hope, for the sake of the well-being of the economy, that such a company disappears as soon as possible.

Why wouldn't you do the same for a company that treats IT and IT management like that?

"The Practice of System and Network Administration" (TPOSANA) is now 7 years old (with some chapters virtually unmodified since the first edition, 12 years ago). We are preparing to update the book and create a 3rd edition but we need your help!

We're looking for your input! Yes, you! Our valued readers!

We're re-reading all 1,100 pages to find parts that are obsolete or need updating but we need your help. We've decided to crowd-source this part of the project. You are probably a better judge of what is missing, obsolete, or needs updating. Pick a chapter, a page, or a section and file bugs against any issues you find. They can be specific errors ("Typo on page 123") or general ("Chapter 28 focuses on the old Solaris way; add the newer Linux way.")


  • Everyone that submits a valid bug that we choose to correct will be thanked in the next edition of the book.
  • Three lucky bug submitters will receive copies of the new edition when it comes out. They will be selected by quality and quantity of bugs.

Here's how to get started:

Start hunting today!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli