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Slides from LOPSA-East

I've uploaded my slides from "Top 5 Time Management Tips for SysAdmins" to SlideShare. They apply to developers too.


Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

I'll be teaching tutorials. I'm also on the organizing committee. More info soon. Visit the conference site for details:

The train station that is at Newark Airport is being repaired and is therefore shut down. The dates of this scheduled maintenance coincide exactly with the conference. Sigh.

As a sysadmin, I appreciate the need for scheduled maintenance and appreciate that it was announced in advance. At least this isn't catching us by surprise.

If you were planning on flying to Newark Airport, there are 3 ways you can get to the conference:

  • The airport is supplying a shuttlebus to Newark Penn Station (NPS) (not to be confused with New YORK Penn Station). From there take the train.
  • You can take a taxi all the way to the conference, which is expensive.
  • You can take a taxi to any other station along the NJ Transit "North East Corridor" train line. For example, the Elizabeth station is a short taxi ride from the airport. (Trivia: Newark Airport is technically in Elizabeth, New Jersey).

The shuttlebus is probably going to be the most reliable and least expensive.

The full story is here:

Obviously it's outside the hands of LOPSA-East but I know this will still be frustrating for some of you. Better to know in advance than be surprised when you arrive.

Can't wait to see everyone there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

LOPSA-East (and many conferences) have a session called "lightning-talks". This is where people do 5-minute talks. The talks range from technical to personal. It's invariably one of the most enjoyable sessions of the conference. You can generally sign up for a 5-minute slot usually right up until the session, though once the space is full it is full.

If you have something to say but have been intimidated by the prospect of putting together a 45-minute talk, going through the whole proproposal process, and so on, this is a great way to get your feet wet. The audience is highly receptive to new ideas and new speakers. You are among friends.

Lightning Talks coordinator Adam Moskowitz has put together a web page giving more details. Check it out!


Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

Ask me and the entire planning committee anything.

Thanks to everyone that participated. You can read the results at the link above.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

Vish Ishaya will be giving the opening keynote at LOPSA-East this year. I caught up with him to talk about his keynote, OpenStack, and how he got his start in tech. The conference is May 2-3, 2014 in New Brunswick, NJ. If you haven't registered, do it now!

Tom Limoncelli: Tell us about your keynote. What should people expect / expect to learn?

Vish Ishaya: The keynote will be about OpenStack as well as the unique challenges of running a cloud in the datacenter. Cloud development methodologies mean different approaches to problems. These approaches bring with them a new set of concerns. By the end of the session people should understand where OpenStack came from, know why businesses are clamoring for it, and have strategies for bringing it into the datacenter effectively.

TL: How did you get started in tech?

VI: I started coding in 7th Grade, when I saw someone "doing machine language" on a computer at school (He was programming in QBasic). I started copying programs from books and I was hooked.

TL: If an attendee wanted to learn OpenStack, what's the smallest installation they can build to be able to experiment? How quickly could they go from bare metal to a working demo?

VI: The easiest way to get started experimenting with OpenStack is to run DevStack ( on a base Ubuntu or Fedora OS. It works on a single node and is generally running in just a few minutes.

TL: What are the early-adopters using OpenStack for? What do you see the next tier of customers using it for?

VI: OpenStack is a cloud toolkit, so the early-adopters are building clouds. These tend to be service providers and large enterprises. The next tier of customers are smaller businesses that just want access to a private cloud. These are the ones that are already solving interesting business problems using public clouds and want that same flexibility on their own infrastructure.

TL: Suppose a company had a big investment in AWS and wanted to bring it in-house and on-premise. What is the compatibility overlap between OpenStack and AWS?

We've spent quite a bit of time analyzing this at Nebula, because it is a big use-case for our customers. It really depends on what features in AWS one is using. If just the basics are being used, the transition is very easy. If you're using a bunch of the more esoteric services, finding an open source analog can be tricky.

TL: OpenStack was founded by Rackspace Hosting and NASA. Does OpenStack run well in zero-G environments? Would you go into space if NASA needed an OpenStack deployment on the moon?

When I was working on the Nebula project at NASA (where the OpenStack compute project gestated), everyone always asked if I had been to space. I haven't yet, but I would surely volunteer.

Thanks to Vish for taking the time to do this interview! See you at LOPSA-East!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph will be giving the closing keynote at LOPSA-East this year. I caught up with her to talk about her keynote, source code management, and Star Wars. The conference is May 2-3, 2014 in New Brunswick, NJ. If you haven't registered, do it now! (We'll have an interview with the opening keynote, Vish Ishaya, soon.)

Tom Limoncelli: Tell us about your keynote. What should people expect / expect to learn?

Elizabeth Krumbach Joseph: Over the past few years there have been a number of high profile incidents and news stories around the subject of women in technology. In my keynote I'll be giving some solid advice for how the technology industry, and each of us, can do a better job of attracting and keeping talent. I will focus on women, but the changes are ones that will help all of us and make the industry a better place for everyone.

As a sneak peek: It would be great if we could all have real flex time (particularly since my pager may go off at 2 AM) and gave more opportunities to junior systems administrators.

TL: What do you do for HP and OpenStack?

EKJ: I'm a systems administrator working on the OpenStack project infrastructure, so a vast majority of my day to day work is working directly on an open source project. Internally at HP I also pitch in with teams using the same upstream infrastructure tools and sometimes help out teams who are seeking to open source their projects to offer best practice advice.

TL: You are also giving a talk called "Code Review for Sys Admins". Tell us more about code reviews and how they benefit system administrators?

EKJ: A code review is my favorite thing! In software development it's a review of the code you submit, typically before it's merged.

The team I work on in OpenStack has taken this to our practice of systems administration. For each change we submit to the systems, it goes through a review system that does a few automated checks (ie: running "puppet parser validate" on Puppet changes and pep8 checks on our Python scripts) and then is reviewed and approved by peers on our team. It's led to one of the best working environment of systems administrators I've ever worked on and has been a valuable tool for our geographically distributed team. Plus, the whole thing is open source, and so is all of our work.

TL: This question is forwarded from two of the LOPSA-East committee members, one has a new born daughter and the other has a 7 year old granddaughter. What can they do now so that their granddaughter/daughter grow up to be engineers?

EKJ: Great question!

I was very fortunate to grow up in a family of all girls with a geek for a father. He was always encouraging us to learn and build things. My parents also encouraged interests early on like jigsaw puzzles. This kind of supportive environment helped develop the curiosity and interest in engineering that I've built my career upon.

I'm also really excited to see companies like Goldie Blox ( come on the scene with toys designed for girls to foster an interest in engineering. But you don't actually need specially designed interlocking blocks, lacking in funds for expensive LEGOs, my parents kept us stocked with plain wooden blocks that I'd build zoos and other creations with. [See picture.]

Today there are many programs that offer computer-specific programs for young people, like

And others that are specifically tailored to girls and under-served demographics, like,, and a Girl Scouts program. Oh, and programs with robots!

This is by no means an exhaustive list, only ones I've casually come across lately. More are popping up all the time, many just serving their regional area or school districts.

TL: You recently moved from Philly to California. I hope you are surviving the good weather and healthy living. When will we see you back in the Philly Linux community?

EKJ: I love San Francisco, but there's no place like Philly. I come back about twice a year to visit family and friends. If I'm in town during a PLUG ( meeting I'll typically drop by, sometimes even give a presentation about some of my latest work. I also spoke at Fosscon ( in Philadelphia last August and hope to again this year.

TL: Your domain is so I have to ask... Which of Chapter 4, 5, or 6 is your favorite?

EKJ: A New Hope (Episode 4) will always be my favorite. Self-contained, not too complicated, and so endearing!

Thanks to Elizabeth for taking the time to do this interview! See you at LOPSA-East!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

I'll be presenting a few different talks at LOPSA-East, in New Brunswick, NJ, May 2-3, 2014.


  • Introduction to Time Management (half day)
  • Evil Genius 101 (half day)


  • Sneak peek at my next book: The Practice of Cloud Administration (this is the ONLY conference that will be getting a sneak peek before it is released this September)
  • The Stack at Stack Exchange (how works)
  • Tom's Top 5 Time Management Tips

Hope to see you there! Register today!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

I'll be teaching my "Evil Genius 101" half-day class at LOPSA-East

You want to innovate: deploy new technologies such as configuration management (CfEngine, Puppet, etc.), set up a wiki, or standardized configurations. Your coworkers don't want change. They like it the way things are. Therefore, they consider you evil. However you aren't evil, you just want to make things better.

In this class you will learn how to:

  • Help your coworkers understand and agree to your awesome ideas
  • Convince your manager about anything. Really
  • Turn the most stubborn user into your biggest fan
  • Get others to trust you so they are more easily convinced
  • Deciding which projects to do when you have more projects than time
  • Make decisions based on data and evidence
  • Drive improvements based on a methodology and planning instead of guessing and luck

LOPSA-East is a regional sysadmin conference in New Brunswick NJ, May 2-3, 2014. More info here:

This class also talks about the best DevOps techniques that you can steal for your organization.

The first half is spent analyzing your organization and helps you do some "soul searching" to figure out which projects are most in need of your Evil Plans.

Sign up today!


P.S. I'll also be teaching my "Intro to Time Management for System Administrators" half-day class, which gives you the tools to better manage your time, and avoid the interruptions and distractions that keep you from getting work done.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

I'll be teaching my "Intro to Time Management for System Administrators" class at LOPSA-East. I haven't taught this class in ages so this is a good opportunity to check it out.

The class covers the most important points of my Time Management for System Administrators O'Reilly book. Sysadmins have a time management problem: There are too many projects. Too many interruptions. Too many distractions. This half-day class presents fundamental techniques for eliminating interruptions and distractions so you have more time for projects, prioritization techniques so the projects you do work on have the most impact. It wraps it all into "The Cycle System" which is the easiest and most effective way to juggle all your tasks without dropping any.

LOPSA-East is a regional sysadmin conference in New Brunswick NJ, May 2-3, 2014. More info here:

Personally my goal for this class is to give you the tools so that you can get a good start on the techniques so that you can mold and shape them to your own needs.

I'm surprised at how many people have taken this class multiple times. One person told me he takes it every few years "to brush up" on the basics.

Taking this class at LOPSA-East has the benefit that, due to the small class size, I have more time for Q&A.

Sign up today!


P.S. I'll also be teaching my "Evil Genius 101" half-day class, which focuses on how to convince coworkers and managers how to do "big changes" like adopt configuration management, DevOps techniques, and so on.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

Just a reminder to everybody that the Early Bird Discount to LOPSA-East 2014 registrations ends on Sunday, March 23rd at 11:59pm - Register now before it's too late!


LOPSA-East is a regional sysadmin conference in New Brunswick NJ, May 2-3, 2014. Two days of world-class training on a diverse range of topics plus community-selected talks on everything from Active Directory to Code Review for Sys Admins! We have a very exciting lineup of tutorials and talks this year, you can find all of the exciting content at:

You can also take my "Intro to Time Management" half-day class, plus my "Evil Genius 101" half-day class.

Looking forward to seeing you all there!

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

The LOPSA-East talks schedule was published yesterday. It is broken into 4 tracks: DevOps, Infrastructure, Career Development and "General". I'm impressed! The DevOps Track has a lot of good culture talks, best practices, and big names like Mandi Walls. The Infrastructure Track has case studies as well as talks about how to do it yourself. The Professional/Career Talks Track has a mix of sessions for both junior and senior people. The "General" Track has a huge diversity: network (the hardware kind), networking (the community kind), "lightning talks" and more.

There's also a lot of excellent training classes, which I'll write about in another post. Plus there will be 2 keynote speakers announced soon.

Registration is open! Sign up today!

Register at:


Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

The schedule of talks and tutorials has been published!

I'm glad to announce that I'll be teaching 2 tutorials and giving 2 talks: "Tom's Top 5 Time Management Tips" and "Book Preview: The Practice of Cloud Administration".

My tutorials include "Evil Genius 101", which was standing-room only last year plus "Intro to Time Management for System Administrators" which hasn't been taught at LOPSA-East in quite a few years.

Registration opens soon. I look forward to seeing you at this year's conference!


Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

The LOPSA-East "call for participation" has extended the submission deadline to Fri, Jan 31. You have an extra week to send in your proposed talks.

In particular, anything related to cutting edge operational issues ("devops") and new technology (wha t sysadmins should know about "new" things like SSDs, etc). Personally I'd like to see more "culture" talks. If you've done an awesome project in the last year and would like to talk about it, write it up and submit it soon!

LOPSA-East is May 2-3, 2014 in New Brunswick, NJ. Easy to get to via train or car from anywhere on the east coast.

Posted by Tom Limoncelli in LOPSA-East

Tom will be teaching 2 tutorials including the all-new Evil Genius 101 half-day class.

  1. Half-day tutorial: Advanced Time Management: Team Efficiency
  2. Half-day tutorial: Evil Genius 101

There will also be a preview of our new book, The Practice of Cloud System Administration.

I'll be there and I hope you will be there too!

Tom will be the Saturday opening keynote, plus he will be teaching his two most popular half-day classes: Time Management for System Administrators, and "Help! Everyone hates our IT department!". LOPSA NJ PICC is in New Brunswick, NJ, May 7-8, 2010. It is a regional conference, everyone is invited. For more information:

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