Essential System Administration
By AELEEN FRISH - O'REILLY & ASSOCIATES, INC.
But now to the list. In lieu of an idealized list, I
offer the following unordered
recitation of the things I spent the most time doing in
my previous full-time
system administration position, managing several
- Adding new users.
- Adding toner to electrostatic plotters.
- Doing backups.
- Restoring files from backups that users had
accidentally deleted or trashed.
- Answering user questions ("How do I send mail?"),
usually not for the first or
- Monitoring system activity and trying to tune
system parameters to make
overloaded systems have the response time of an idle
- Moving jobs up in the print queue, after more or
less user whining, pleading
or begging, contrary to stated policy (about moving
jobs, not about whining).
- Worrying about system security and plugging the
most noxious security holes
I had inherited.
- Installing programs and operating system updates.
- Trying to free up disk space (and especially
contiguous disk space).
- Rebooting the system after a crash (always at late
and inconvenient times).
- Figuring out network glitches ("Why isn't hamlet
talking to ophelia?").
Occasionally, this involved physically tracing the
Ethernet cable around the
building, checking it at each node.
- Rearranging furniture to accommodate new equipment.
Installing said equip-
- Figuring out why a program/command/account suddenly
stopped working since yesterday, even though the user
- Fixing-or rather, trying to fix-corrupted CAD/CAM
- Going to meetings.
- Adding new systems to the network.
- Writing scripts to automate as many of the above
activities as possible.