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9 traits

2011-02-21 03:45:16.6587+00 by Dan Lyke 13 comments

Reading through Nine traits of the veteran Unix admin and thinking of Meuon: For #2 substitude "joe" for "vim". Via genehack, who observes

I think it would be interesting to see somebody do a comparison/contrast of these with a similar list for a “devops” admin.

[ related topics: Children and growing up John S Jacobs-Anderson Invention and Design ]

comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-24 12:16:26.525751+00 by: meuon

re: Rebooting, a production server:

root@w0707:~# w
07:06:12 up 610 days, 13:54,  1 user,  load average: 0.02, 0.03, 0.00

As this is it's second time to that scale of number, which really means it is time for a new server: hardware+OS. It'll take me two or three weeks to get it uber-stable and then I expect it to stay up 2 to 4 years without reboot.

My systems don't do what most systems do (user shell access, ftp, run Joomla/Drupal/MediaWiki/Wordpress/etc..) so they are fairly stable and secure.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-24 11:34:57.575383+00 by: DaveP

Re: rebooting, he has a followup talking about rebooting rather than chasing down what's wrong.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-23 18:50:17.653445+00 by: John Anderson

ObZawinski "now they have two problems"...

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-23 09:41:05.821316+00 by: brennen

As for comments in regex... I've never seen it in the wild.

I comment any regex I leave laying around that's not immediately obvious to a mildly experienced reader. I've learned the hard way that I'm probably going to be the poor bastard who has to fix it when it breaks a year from now. (I think the /x flag is at least as valuable for allowing arbitrary whitespace as for comments. It's remarkable how much less painful a pattern can be to read when it's not all crammed onto a line.)

I also try, these days, not to leave too many regexen laying around. There's this whole class of problems where you sure enough could write a regex, but you're going to deserve it when some older, wiser, more embittered beard slaps you upside the head for it.

I find that sudo has generally made me more thoughtful rather than less, though I will freely confess that I do sudo -s way too often to claim that I really believe in the model.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-23 03:12:19.415464+00 by: ebradway

John: Good catch on write/read. You were right. As for comments in regex... I've never seen it in the wild. And definitely not in any code I had to maintain.

Dan: I think your comment may have even been it's faster to rewrite Perl code than try to maintain someone else's Perl code.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-23 01:38:19.074033+00 by: Dan Lyke

I think the rest of the statement about Perl being a "write only language" was that I didn't care because it was faster to rewrite it in Perl than it was to maintain it in any other language.

#Comment Re: regexp comments made: 2011-02-23 01:07:23.171388+00 by: John Anderson

You can comment regular expressions -- see the 'x' modifier in http://perldoc.perl.org/perlre.html#Modifiers.

(And as for what I assume you meant was "a write-only language" -- there aren't really any write-only languages, but there sure as hell are a bunch of write-only coders...)

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-22 17:28:03.142089+00 by: other_todd

Oh, I don't say I reboot a Unix box *lightly* even today. But I also don't put it as far down on the list of things to try as the article does.

As for vi, I think my base problem is that I simply do not understand its command syntax. Yes, I have reference works (sitting on a shelf above me as I type this), but why consult them when emacs commands, at this point, are hard-wired into my reflexes/fingertips? I suspect the real problem is that I learned emacs before vi and therefore am ruint.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-22 17:27:25.2861+00 by: ebradway [edit history]

#1. "sudo bash" <grin>. If I'm at the command line on a Unix, I'm doing admin work. And lately, that's been on boxes where I have sudo rights but not su. Go figure.

#2. I first started doing Linux on boxes at COL that meuon and Dan set up. So joe was readily available. Now it's ingrained in my muscle memory well that I don't even think about it. Oddly, that muscle memory is directly connected to the chunk of my brain associated with Unix admin work. When I write code, I either default to the CUA or, if I'm in C/C++ mode, my fingers long for BRIEF/CRISP. Once upon a time, I used to keep a copy of "TERSE" for DOS around. That was an amazing editor.

I refuse to learn vi. I once witnessed an experienced programmer delete a chunk of code from a live system because she had lost track of her mode. She didn't real her mistake until she had saved the file and was making the next round of edits.

#3. Because I'm never THE sysadmin, when I have to do admin work, it's because I have to either duplicate, replicate or fix something left behind by another admin. Dan once said "Perl is a write-only language." (oops) That goes doubly-so for regex. And there's no way to comment in regex. I don't use regex as a power tool because I know what it's like to try to figure out and fix someone else's regex.

#8. This is the farce of the Microsoft Certified Engineer. No real Unix admin would stoop to actually getting such a certification. And if they tried, they'd probably fail because the test is based more on the GUI than the command line tools. Oh yeah, didn't you know that since Windows NT 3.51, there have always been a set of command line tools that can manipulate ANY setting in Windows? If the Registry were a directory called /etc and the keys were all plain text, maybe more Unix admins would put up with Windows more.

#9. I really don't have time to play "which of these processes have runaway" any more. Rebooting takes a few seconds and if it lets me get through the rest of the day, so be it. And as we move to the cloud, futzing over individual processes becomes even more of a time waster. Just restart the instance.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-22 16:27:32.147929+00 by: Dan Lyke

Yeah, Todd, there have been a couple of things that suggest that you, like me, are a developer and not a serious ops guy.

#1 seems like an old school admin thing. I've finally adopted sudo, but I've known Meuon to run root as his primary user account. For years and years. I think some of the question is: Did you run a lot of networked DOS? If so then making the switch to caring that some accounts had privileges and others didn't was a major change.

On #2, vi is my lightweight editor of choice because it's always freakin' there. Embedded ARM core device with only a few bytes of RAM? Yeah, vi is there, and the machine simply doesn't have the resources to run emacs. 'vi /etc/' is hardcoded into my fingers, I have trouble typing anything else if the file is system config.

on #9, I've gotten lazy in my old Windows-using age, especially now that the boot process is fairly solid. But back when getting a real-sized SCSI disk up and booted involved a multi-stage thing that sometimes even included a few DOS partitions, and I was a few thousand miles from the machine and there wouldn't be someone there to make the box work right for a few days if I screwed it up, rebooting was not an option.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-22 16:07:56.713753+00 by: other_todd [edit history]

Disagree strongly with #2. vi is an implement of torture whose cult is spread by a particular "it's supposed to be hard" school of BOFH, and people who complain about speed/bloat of emacs have never learned how to strip it down. First thing I do on any system I get the keys to is build myself an emacs.

Agree with #3-7, especially #4; disagree mildly with #1 (su, sudo, so long as it gets me the permissions do to what I need, I don't care); agree grudgingly with #8 with the stipulation that I don't touch Active Directory and we have a separate guy here just to deal with that crap; not sure I agree about #9 because I run at least one server that simply seems to need a reboot every few months just because it craves the attention.

ETA: Mind you, I am a developer/DBA who has to act as a Unix admin, because no one else will do it that I'm willing to trust. It is not by choice.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-02-21 14:54:42.213144+00 by: meuon

When I read that, I just figured it was a bio with a couple of details wrong. Sudo is for people who should not be root anyway.

#Comment I don't know... made: 2011-02-21 14:23:37.921917+00 by: spl

I seem to recall Meuon doing significant amounts of magic to get things working, but I don't recall too many postmortems. ;)