[KyOSS Discuss] Know your system administrator: a field guide

Jeff Squyres jeff at squyres.com
Thu May 10 09:10:01 EDT 2012


BTW -- spot poll: which type of sys admin do you associate with the most?
 (i.e., which type did you laugh at the hardest?)

I'm apparently a Maniac.  :-)


On Thu, May 10, 2012 at 6:30 AM, Jeff Squyres <jeff at squyres.com> wrote:

> Per some discussion last night, here's one of my favorite old usenet
> posts...
>
> ------------
>
> KNOW YOUR UNIX SYSTEM ADMINISTRATOR-- A FIELD GUIDE
>
>
>
> There are four major species of Unix sysad:
>
> 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
> administration.
>
> 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.
>
> MANIAC:
> # cd /home
> # rm -rf `du -s * | sort -rn | head -1 | awk '{print $2}'`;
>
> IDIOT:
> # cd /home
> # cat `du -s * | sort -rn | head -1 | awk '{ printf "%s/*\n", $2}'` |
> compress
>
>
> ---------------- 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.
>
> MANIAC:
> # 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."
>
> IDIOT:
> # 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.
>
> IDIOT:
> # 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.
>
> MANIAC:
> # cat >> ~luser/.cshrc
> alias vi 'rm \!*;unalias vi;grep -v BoZo ~/.cshrc > ~/.z; mv -f ~/.z
> ~/.cshrc'
> ^D
>
> 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.
>
> IDIOT:
> # 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 quickly.
>
> IDIOT:
> # 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.
>
> IDIOT:
> # kill -9 /dev/lp ; /dev/lp &
>
>
> ---------------- SITUATION: OS upgrade. ----------------
>
> TECHNICAL THUG: Reads source code of new release, takes only
> what he likes.
>
> ADMINISTRATIVE FASCIST: Instigates lawsuit against the vendor
> for having shipped a product with bugs in it in the first place.
>
> MANIAC:
> # uptime
> 1:33pm  up 19 days, 22:49,  167 users,  load average: 6.49, 6.45, 6.31
> # 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!
> ^D
>
> IDIOT:
> # 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.
>
> MANIAC:
> # 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.
> ^D
> # write max
> I've got my boots and backpack.  Ready to leave for Mount Tam?
> ^D
>
>  IDIOT:
> # echo "HELP!" | mail tech_support.AT.vendor.com%kremvax%bitnet!BIFF!!!
>
>
> ---------------- 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 notes.
>
> 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.
>
> IDIOT:
> % dd ibs=80 if=/dev/rdisk001s7 | grep "Fred"
>
>
> @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
>
> OTHER GUIDELINES:
>
>
> ---------------- 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 dominatrixes.
>
> 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.
>
>
> ---------------- 1992 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: ----------------
>
> TECHNICAL THUG: Clinton, but only because he liked Gore's
> book.
>
> ADMINISTRATIVE FASCIST: Bush. Possibly Clinton, but only
> because he liked Tipper.
>
> MANIAC: Frank Zappa.
>
> IDIOT: Perot.
>
>
> ---------------- 1996 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION: ----------------
>
> TECHNICAL THUG: Richard Stallman - Larry Wall.
>
> ADMINISTRATIVE FASCIST: Nixon - Buchanan.
>
> MANIAC: Frank Zappa.
>
> IDIOT: Quayle.
>
>
> @@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
>
> COMPOUND SYSTEM ADMINISTRATORS:
>
>
> TECHNICAL FASCIST: Hacks kernel & writes a horde of scripts to
> prevent folk from ever using more than their fair share of system
> resources.  Resulting overhead and load brings system to its knees.
>
> TECHNICAL MANIAC: Writes scripts that SEEM to be monitoring
> the system, but are actually encrypting large lists of passwords.
> Uses nearby nodes as beta test sites for worms.
>
> TECHNICAL IDIOT: Writes superuser-run scripts that sooner or
> later do an "rm -rf /".
>
> FASCISTIC MANIAC: At first hint of cracker incursions, whether
> real or imagined, shuts down system by triggering water-on-the-brain
> detectors and Halon system.
>
> FASCISTIC IDIOT:
> # cp /dev/null /etc/passwd
>
> MANIACAL IDIOT:  Napalms the CPU.
>      -Stephan Zielinski
>
> --
> Selected by Maddi Hausmann.  MAIL your jokes (jokes ONLY) to
> funny at clarinet.com
> Attribute the joke's source if at all possible.  A Daemon will auto-reply.
>
> --
> Selected by Maddi Hausmann.  MAIL your joke (jokes ONLY) to
> funny at clarinet.com
> Attribute the joke's source if at all possible.  A Daemon will auto-reply.
>
> Jokes ABOUT major current events should be sent to topical at clarinet.com
> (ie. jokes which won't be funny if not given immediate attention.)
> Anything that is not a joke submission goes to funny-request at clarinet.com
>
>
> --
> {+} Jeff Squyres
>



-- 
{+} Jeff Squyres
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