[chris@isa.verynet.at: Know Your UNIX System Administrator (fwd)]

Hanno Wagner (wagner@zadi.de)
Thu, 13 Nov 1997 07:40:31 +0100

Message-ID: <19971113074031.25352@schizo.dainet.de>
Date: Thu, 13 Nov 1997 07:40:31 +0100
From: Hanno Wagner <wagner@zadi.de>
To: linux-ger@infodrom.north.de
Subject: [chris@isa.verynet.at: Know Your UNIX System Administrator (fwd)]

...mal was zu lachen fuer Euch :-)

-----Forwarded message from "Chris J. Mutter" <chris@isa.verynet.at>-----

Know Your UNIX System Administrator

A Field Guide

There are four major species of UNIX system administrators:
1. The Technical Thug: Usually a systems programmer who has been
forced into system administration; writes scripts in a polyglot of
the Bourne shell, sed, C, awk, perl, and APL.
2. The Administrative Fascist: Usually a retentive drone (or rarely,
a harridan ex-secretary) who has been forced into system
3. The Maniac: Usually an aging cracker who discovered that neither
the Mossad nor Cuba are willing to pay a living wage for computer
espionage. Fell into system administration; occasionally
approaches major competitors with indesp schemes.
4. The Idiot: Usually a cretin, morpohodite, or old COBOL programmer
selected to be the system administrator by a committee of cretins,
morphodites, and old COBOL programmers.

How To Identify Your System Administrator:

Situation: Low disk space.

Technical Thug: Writes a suite of scripts to monitor disk usage,
maintain a database of historic disk usage, predict future disk usage
via least squares regression analysis, identify users who are more
than a standard deviation over the mean, and send mail to the
offending parties. Places script in cron. Disk usage does not change,
since disk-hogs, by nature, either ignore script- generated mail, or
file it away in triplicate.

Administrative Fascist: Puts disk usage policy in motd. Uses disk
quotas. Allows no exceptions, thus crippling development work. Locks
accounts that go over quota.


# cd /home

# rm -rf `du -s * | sort -rn | head -1 | awk '{print $2}'`;


# cd /home

# cat `du -s * | sort -rn | head -1 | awk '{ printf "%s/*\n", $2}'` |

Situation: Excessive CPU usage.

Technical Thug: Writes a suite of scripts to monitor processes,
maintain a database of CPU usage, identify processes more than a
standard deviation over the norm, and renice offending processes.
Places script in cron. Ends up renicing the production database into
oblivion, bringing operations to a grinding halt, much to the delight
of the xtrek freaks.

Administrative Fascist: Puts CPU usage policy in motd. Uses CPU
quotas. Locks accounts that go over quota. Allows no exceptions, thus
crippling development work, much to the delight of the xtrek freaks.


# kill -9 `ps -augxww | sort -rn +8 -9 | head -1 | awk '{print $2}'`

Idiot: # compress -f `ps -augxww | sort -rn +8 -9 | head -1 | awk
'{print $2}'`

Situation: New account creation.

Technical Thug: Writes perl script that creates home directory, copies
in incomprehensible default environment, and places entries in
/etc/passwd, /etc/shadow, and /etc/group. (By hand, NOT with
passmgmt.) Slaps on setuid bit; tells a nearby secretary to handle new
accounts. Usually, said secretary is still dithering over the
difference between 'enter' and 'return'; and so, no new accounts are
ever created.

Administrative Fascist: Puts new account policy in motd. Since people
without accounts cannot read the motd, nobody ever fulfills the
bureaucratic requirements; and so, no new accounts are ever created.

Maniac: "If you're too stupid to break in and create your own account,
I don't want you on the system. We've got too many goddamn
sh*t-for-brains a**holes on this box anyway."


# cd /home; mkdir "Bob's home directory"

# echo "Bob Simon:gandalf:0:0::/dev/tty:compress -f" >/etc/passwd

Situation: Root disk fails.

Technical Thug: Repairs drive. Usually is able to repair filesystem
from boot monitor. Failing that, front-panel toggles microkernel in
and starts script on neighboring machine to load binary boot code into
broken machine, reformat and reinstall OS. Lets it run over the
weekend while he goes mountain climbing.

Administrative Fascist: Begins investigation to determine who broke
the drive. Refuses to fix system until culprit is identified and
charged for the equipment.

Maniac, large system: Rips drive from system, uses sledgehammer to
smash same to flinders. Calls manufacturer, threatens pets. Abuses
field engineer while they put in a new drive and reinstall the OS.

Maniac, small system: Rips drive from system, uses ball-peen hammer to
smash same to flinders. Calls Requisitions, threatens pets. Abuses
bystanders while putting in new drive and reinstalling OS.

Idiot: Doesn't notice anything wrong.

Situation: Poor network response.

Technical Thug: Writes scripts to monitor network, then rewires entire
machine room, improving response time by 2%. Shrugs shoulders, says,
"I've done all I can do," and goes mountain climbing.

Administrative Fascist: Puts network usage policy in motd. Calls up
Berkeley and AT&T, badgers whoever answers for network quotas. Tries
to get xtrek freaks fired.

Maniac: Every two hours, pulls ethernet cable from wall and waits for
connections to time out.


# compress -f /dev/en0

Situation: User questions.

Technical Thug: Hacks the code of emacs' doctor-mode to answer new
users questions. Doesn't bother to tell people how to start the new
"guru-mode", or for that matter, emacs.

Administrative Fascist: Puts user support policy in motd. Maintains
queue of questions. Answers them when he gets a chance, often within
two weeks of receipt of the proper form.

Maniac: Screams at users until they go away. Sometimes barters
knowledge for powerful drink and/or sycophantic adulation.

Idiot: Answers all questions to best of his knowledge until the user
realizes few UNIX systems support punched cards or JCL.

Situation: Stupid user questions.

Technical Thug: Answers question in hex, binary, postfix, and/or
French until user gives up and goes away.

Administrative Fascist: Locks user's account until user can present
documentation demonstrating their qualification to use the machine.


# cat >>~luser/. Cshrc

alias vi 'rm \!*;unalias vi;grep -v BoZo ~/. Csh>~/. Z; mv -f ~/. Z ~/.


Idiot: Answers all questions to best of his knowledge. Recruits user
to system administration team.

Situation: Process accounting management.

Technical Thug: Ignores packaged accounting software; trusts scripts
to sniff out any problems & compute charges.

Administrative Fascist: Devotes 75% of disk space to accounting
records owned by root and chmod'ed 000.

Maniac: Laughs fool head off at very mention of accounting.


# lpr /etc/wtmp /usr/adm/paact

Situation: Religious war, BSD vs. System V.

Technical Thug: BSD. Crippled on System V boxes.

Administrative Fascist: System V. Horrified by the people who use BSD.
Places frequent calls to DEA.

Maniac: Prefers BSD, but doesn't care as long as HIS processes run


# cd c:

Situation: Religious war, System V vs. AIX

Technical Thug: Weeps.

Administrative Fascist: AIX-- doesn't much care for the OS, but loves
the jackboots.

Maniac: System V, but keeps AIX skills up, knowing full well how much
Big Financial Institutions love IBM...

Idiot: AIX.

Situation: Balky printer daemons.

Technical Thug: Rewrites lpd in FORTH.

Administrative Fascist: Puts printer use policy in motd. Calls
customer support every time the printer freezes. Tries to get user who
submitted the most recent job fired.

Maniac: Writes script that kills all the daemons, clears all the print
queues, and maybe restarts the daemons. Runs it once a hour from cron.


# kill -9 /dev/lp ; /dev/lp &

Situation: OS upgrade.

Technical Thug: Reads source code of new release, takes only what he

Administrative Fascist: Instigates lawsuit against the vendor for
having shipped a product with bugs in it in the first place.


# uptime

1:33pm up 19 days, 22:49, 167 users, load average: 6. 49, 6. 45, 6.

# wall

Well, it's upgrade time. Should take a few hours. And good luck on that

5:00 deadline, guys! We're all pulling for you!



# dd if=/dev/rmt8 of=/vmunix

Situation: Balky mail.

Technical Thug: Rewrites sendmail. Cf from scratch. Rewrites sendmail
in SNOBOL. Hacks kernel to implement file locking. Hacks kernel to
implement "better" semaphores. Rewrites sendmail in assembly. Hacks
kernel to . . .

Administrative Fascist: Puts mail use policy in motd. Locks accounts
that go over mail use quota. Keeps quota low enough that people go
back to interoffice mail, thus solving problem.


# kill -9 `ps -augxww | grep sendmail | awk '{print $2}'`

# rm -f /usr/spool/mail/*

# wall

Mail is down. Please use interoffice mail until we have it back up.


# write max

I've got my boots and backpack. Ready to leave for Mount Tam?



# echo "HELP!" | mail tech_support. AT. Vendor. Com%kremvax%bitnet!

Situation: Users want phone list application.

Technical Thug: Writes RDBMS in perl and Smalltalk. Users give up and
go back to post-it notes.

Administrative Fascist: Oracle. Users give up and go back to post-it

Maniac: Tells the users to use flat files and grep, the way God meant
man to keep track of phone numbers. Users give up and go back to
post-it notes.


% dd ibs=80 if=/dev/rdisk001s7 | grep "Fred"

Typical root .cshrc File:

Technical Thug: Longer than eight kilobytes. Sources the output of a
perl script, rewrites itself.

Administrative Fascist: Typical lines include:

umask 777

alias cd 'cd \!*; rm -rf ching *hack mille omega rogue xtrek >& /dev/null

Maniac: Typical lines include:

alias rm 'rm -rf \!*'

alias hose kill -9 '`ps -augxww | grep \!* | awk \'{print $2}\'`'

alias kill 'kill -9 \!* ; kill -9 \!* ; kill -9 \!*'

alias renice 'echo Renice\? You must mean kill -9.; kill -9 \!*'

Idiot: Typical lines include:

alias dir ls

alias era rm

alias kitty cat

alias process_table ps

setenv DISPLAY vt100

Hobbies, Technical:

Technical Thug: Writes entries for Obsfuscated C contest. Optimizes
INTERCAL scripts. Maintains ENIAC emulator. Virtual reality .

Administrative Fascist: Bugs office. Audits card-key logs. Modifies
old TVs to listen in on cellular phone conversations. Listens to
police band.

Maniac: Volunteers at Survival Research Labs. Bugs office. Edits
card-key logs. Modifies old TVs to listen in on cellular phone
conversations. Jams police band.

Idiot: Ties shoes. Maintains COBOL decimal to roman numeral converter.
Rereads flowcharts from his salad days at Rand.

Hobbies, Nontechnical:

Technical Thug: Drinks "Smart Drinks." Attends raves. Hangs out at
poetry readings and Whole Earth Review events and tries to pick up
Birkenstock MOTAS.

Administrative Fascist: Reads "Readers Digest" and "Mein Kampf."
Sometimes turns up car radio and sings along to John Denver. Golfs.
Drinks gin martinis. Hangs out in yuppie bars and tries to pick up

Maniac: Reads "Utne Reader" and "Mein Kampf". Faithfully attends
Dickies and Ramones concerts. Punches out people who say "virtual
reality." Drinks damn near anything, but favors Wild Turkey, Black
Bush, and grain alcohol. Hangs out in neighborhood bars and tries to
pick up MOTAS by drinking longshoremen under the table .

Idiot: Reads "Time" and "Newsweek" and believes them. Drinks
Jagermeister. Tries to pick up close blood relations; often succeeds,
producting next generation of idiots.

Author unknown

----- End of forwarded message from Rudi_Metzger@Sonymusic.Com -----

Ciao, Hanno

|  Hanno Wagner  | Member of the HTML Writers Guild  | Rince@IRC      |
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