Awesome Conferences

November 2015 Archives

The 3rd edition of The Practice of System and Network Administration won't be out for another year. However, we've released a set of 8 chapters on (SBO). We've taken the previous edition's chapter on "workstations" and expanded it to be an 8-chapter segment on managing a fleet of workstations (laptops and desktops). You'll find we've done something similar for many of the chapters that we're rewriting for the new edition.

Part II: Workstation Fleet Management

Part III is about Servers. But you'll have to wait a while to see those.

IMPORTANT: The SBO system lets you post comments. Please do! We're releasing these chapters because we want feedback. Please at least tell us if we're going in the right direction!

We hope that these new chapters being a DevOps/SRE sensibility to the problem of maintaining a corporate fleet of machines for our users.

I think the funniest line so far is in Chapter 8. The most unique chapter is 11.



Posted by Tom Limoncelli in TPOSANA 3rd Edition

In recent weeks Dell has been found to have installed rogue certificates on laptops they sell. Not once, but twice. The security ramifications of this are grim. Such a laptop can have its SSL-encrypted connections sniffed quite easily. Dell has responded by providing uninstall instructions and an application that will remove the cert. They've apologized and that's fine... everyone makes mistakes, don't let it happen again. You can read about the initial problem in "Dell Accused of Installing 'Superfish-Like' Rogue Certificates On Laptops" and the re-occurance in "Second Root Cert-Private Key Pair Found On Dell Computer"

And here is why I don't care.

Talk with any data-scientist and they'll rant about how they hate the phrase "big data". Odds are they'll mention a story like the following:

My employer came to me and said we want to do some 'big data' work, so we're hiring a consultant to build a Hadoop cluster. So I asked, "How much data do you have?" and he replied, "Oh, we never really measured. But it's big. Really big! BIIIIG!!

Of course I did some back of the envelope calculations and replied, "You don't need Hadoop. We can fit that in RAM if you buy a big enough Dell." he didn't believe me. So I went to and showed him a server that could support twice that amount, for less than the cost of the consultant.

We also don't seem to appreciate just how fast computers have gotten.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Rants

Last night (Saturday, Nov 21) I attended a fundraiser for the Montclair Film Festival where (I kid you not) for 90 minutes we watched Stephen Colbert interview J.J. Abrams.

What I learned:

  • He finished mixing The Force Awakens earlier that day. 2:30am California time. He then spent all day traveling to Newark, New Jersey for the event.
  • After working on it for so long, he's sooooo ready to get it in the theater. "The truth is working on this movie for nearly three years, it has been like living with the greatest roommate in history for too long. It's time for him to get his own place. It's been great and I can't tell you how much I want him to get out into the world and meet other people because we know each other really well. But really, 'Star Wars' is bigger than all of us. So I'm thrilled beyond words (to be involved) and terrified more than I can say."
  • When they played the Force Awakens trailer, J.J. said he had seen it before, but this was the first time he saw it with a live audience.
  • J.J. was influenced at an early age by "The Force" as being a non-denominational power for good.
  • Stephen Colbert saw the original Star Wars 3 weeks early thanks to a contest. He gloated that he's been excited about Star Wars for 3 weeks longer than anyone here.
  • Jennifer Garner worked for Colbert as a nanny when she was starting out in acting and needed the money.
  • Stephen Colbert auditioned for J.J.'s first film but didn't get the part. The script was called Filofax but was called "Taking Care of Business" when it was released. Colbert said he remembered auditioning for Filofax and then seeing TCoB in the theater and thinking, "Gosh this seems a lot like Filofax!"
  • J.J. acted in a film. He had a cameo in "Six Degrees of Separation". They showed a clip off YouTube.
  • While filming the pilot for "Lost" the network changed presidents. The new one wasn't very confident in the new series and asked them to film an ending for the pilot that would permit them to show it as a made-for-TV movie instead. He pretended to "forget" the request and the president never brought it up again.

The fundraiser was a total win. 2800 people were there (JJ said "about 2700 more than I expected"). If you are in the NY/NJ area, I highly recommend you follow them on Facebook and check out the next film festival on April 29 to May 8, 2016.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Entertainment

Christine will be giving a talk titled, "Learn to Fail Better" at OpsCon in Milano.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in AppearancesArchive

Christine Hogan gave the keynote presentation at OpsCon Milano 2015 today.

Her talk was titled "Learn to Fail Better" and highlighted cultural and technical points from our new book, The Practice of Cloud System Administration.


OpsCon had an artist live drawing a summary of the talk, which you can see here:


Congrats to Christine on her first conference keynote!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Speaking

Update Nov 10, 2015: The first 10 people to arrive at the book signing will get a free copy of The Practice of Cloud System Administration! See you there!

I hadn't planned on doing a book signing at LISA this year but a number of people have asked, so I've set one up. You'll have to bring your own copy as I won't have copies to sell or give away.

  • What: Book signing with Tom Limoncelli
  • Where: The Atrium
  • When: Friday, Nov 13 at 1pm - 1:30pm

What about e-books?

I have stickers that I will autograph. Where you stick it is up to you.

Will you be selling or giving away books?

Sadly not this year. That said, feel free to bring books by other authors. I'll sign anything.

Your books are too heavy to bring in my luggage.

That's not really a question, but here is a list of my books sorted lightest first:

Sorry to bother you. Would you sign my book?

Yes! No need to apologize. I love signing books. It doesn't even have to be at the book signing. Stop me on line, in the hallway, or wherever. Authors don't get paid a lot but hearing from fans is worth more than you can imagine.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in Usenix

I've received acceptance letters for a talk plus two tutorials (time management and managing oncall). I'll publish full details when the schedule gets posted mid-August.

Limited registration is open now. Full registration will open mid-August.

More details here:

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in AppearancesArchive

Q: Dear Tom: A few years ago we automated a major process in our system administration team. Now the system is impossible to debug. Nobody remembers the old manual process and the automation is beyond what any of us can understand. We feel like we've painted ourselves into a corner. Is all operations automation doomed to be this way?

Read my answer in ACM Queue magazine.

[Queue Magazine is for computer science practitioners. They asked me to write a column on operations/system administration that would suit that audience. This is the first one. You can read it free online occasionally. Subscribers never miss an issue. ACM Queue is free to ACM members, or you can subscribe for $19.99/year.]

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in ACM Queue Column