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New Year's Resolutions For Linux Admins: Automate More, Learn New Languages (networkworld.com) 139

An anonymous reader writes: A long-time Unix sys-admin is suggesting 18 different New Year's resolutions for Linux systems adminstrators. And #1 is to automate more of your boring stuff. "There are several good reasons to turn tedious tasks into scripts. The first is to make them less annoying. The second is to make them less error-prone. And the last is to make them easier to turn over to new team members who haven't been around long enough to be bored. Add a small dose of meaningful comments to your scripts and you have a better chance of passing on some of your wisdom about how things should be done."

Along with that, they suggest learning a new scripting language. "It's easy to keep using the same tools you've been using for decades (I should know), but you might have more fun and more relevance in the long run if you teach yourself a new scripting language. If you've got bash and Perl down pat, consider adding Python or Ruby or some other new language to your mix of skills."

Other suggestions include trying a new distro -- many of which can now be run in "live mode" on a USB drive -- and investigating the security procedures of cloud services (described in the article as "trusting an outside organization with our data").

"And don't forget... There are now only 20 years until 2038 -- The Unix/Linux clockpocalypse."

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New Year's Resolutions For Linux Admins: Automate More, Learn New Languages

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    that systemd has been purged from our infra. No more redhat derivatives.

    This years looking like it's going to be a lot fun.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Above all learn that your job title should be sysadmin. Be aware that there are other kernels and indeed operating systems with merits.

    You wonâ(TM)t learn much of value if you stick to Linux.

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      BSD (various), HP-UX, AIX, Solaris, OS X, TPF, z/VM.

      No other useful OSs come to mind at the moment.

  • Or perhaps not. (Score:2, Insightful)

    "And the last is to make them easier to turn over to new team members who haven't been around long enough to be bored."

    Or in other words, automate yourself out of your own job and get replaced by someone cheaper, using your scripts. Never make your job look easy.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You should absolutely automate most of your job. Use what lawyers and accountants call "efficiency" billing. The first time they fill out a form it might take an hour or four to figure it out. That price is how much it costs, even if it only takes two minutes to fill it out again via template and esig. For best results figure out how to automate it at home on your own time and dine. And invoke it from your own toolkit, even if just a text file you paste into a terminal window/into a shell based on your pers

      • It's more likely your (greedy) boss won't appreciate your scripts. So you automate but don't show your boss. The time you save, you put on your own growth (personal skills that are portable, that comes with you when your employer hands the pink slip). eg study finance, investment, hobbies; If your boss is tracking you, do it in the mind. Think/meditate. At the end, only you help yourself.
    • Re:Or perhaps not. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by DamonHD ( 794830 ) <d@hd.org> on Monday January 01, 2018 @07:30AM (#55842709) Homepage

      I disagree; that's a bad way to look at things from your point of view and your employer's.

      I have always considered myself to be on a day's notice whenever contracting/consulting, and always work to make myself expendable.

      And guess what:
        1) The person paying you appreciates that you aren't trying to lock them in.
        2) There's usually better, more interesting and more valuable stuff to be done once you have the previous rounds of tedium scripted.
        3) False heroics, ie manually doing things that could easily be automated, makes for cockups and unhappiness. I've seen friends I otherwise respect and admire do this.

      For this I got to be one of the better paid IT guys in my field, and always had interesting stuff to tackle.

      Rgds

      Damon

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I'm with Damon on this one. That effort being provincial and guarded is better spent learning. Let junior staff take over the work, there is always more interesting and challenging work to be had. This is better for both the employee's career and the employer's business. I've done that for 25 years and quite happy with what I'm doing now.

        Ironically, it's a moot point. Automating work doesn't make a job unnecessary. Automation usually fails. If it's too sophisticated to fail, it's too brittle and needs an ex

      • 1) The person paying you appreciates that you aren't trying to lock them in.

        If the company is big enough, the person paying you doesn't see as human, but as another machine in the process.

        • by DamonHD ( 794830 )

          If that is the case then you should change manager or company, not dig deeper into the one you're in.

          Rgds

          Damon

      • you vastly overestimate most employers, IT are slaves and treated as such

    • Re:Or perhaps not. (Score:4, Insightful)

      by aqui ( 472334 ) on Monday January 01, 2018 @12:30PM (#55843751)

      Its time to stop treating systems like pets, rather treat them like cattle. This is what's needed to manage growth / and scale without more staff. A cornerstone of this is automation. Its just the next skill set for admins to build out. Automation is part of commoditization and standardization, the next steps in the evolution of a service or product.

      The assumption that automation requires less staff is only valid if nothing is changing. The reality is that IT use is growing rapidly, where I work the number of applications and servers we're managing has more than doubled in less than 5 years. Most of the servers are now virtual and the only reason we've

      If you're scared of automation, then your current job description is probably so simple that it will be automated, or you don't understand automation.

      At that point you have two choices:
      1) Wait until someone else automates things without you or outsources it to a company that has already built and automation library / skills and lose your job.
      or
      2) Become the local automation expert. Or if not local be ready for a job market that will be asking for admins with automation skills.

      The reality is autiomation will happen with or without you, the business case for it is there. For the windows admins: Powershell is here to stay and if you don't learn it someone else will. Beyond that automated deployment, or even self provisioning are quickly becoming the norm.

      I'm currently working on 2). When you start to look at automation you'll find that:
      (a) automation isn't trivial and requires lots of set up work and maintenance when done right...
      (b) when not done right it just scales up the screw ups... (aka wrong command as a domain admin with two broad a target)... Just ask the guy that formated all machines on campus ( https://it.slashdot.org/story/... [slashdot.org] )
      (b) over time it frees you from the mundane tasks to actually start tackling real IT issues in the organization, and get to the projects you never had time for before.
      (c) it scales, it improves your productivity, and it makes you harder to replace, not easier.

      Automation will happen with or without you. The cool thing is that there are tools out there that once you learn them enable your productivity as an admin to offer better quality service, and shift from reactive to proactive management off your environment.

    • If you don't do it someone else will.

      And when the axe comes swinging that person will keep the job because they're the one that 'knows the system'.

      Additionally how do you continue to work on the same thing year after year without getting bored? Automate my workflow, volunteer to take on additional work. Take on additional work. Rinse and repeat.

    • by sad_ ( 7868 )

      I'm sure there is tons and tons of other stuff waiting to be solved/improved/implemented that you finally get some time to do because all the other things are automated.

  • if we ( linux users ) are using 32 bit OS's in 20 years WE DESERVE it
    the only 32 bit os i have is on a very old box from 2001 - that is on itt's last legs

    • har har har, for my employer I have to run some windows programs, and the standard image is 32 bit windows 7 that I run in a VM

      you can bet 32 bit OS are alive and well at your banks, insurance companies, etc.

    • by ebvwfbw ( 864834 )

      They fixed it many years ago. I have a feeling he doesn't know what he's talking about. I know, hard to believe on /.

  • by PPH ( 736903 )

    I piped incoming user help messages to the emacs psychiatrist.

    - BOFH.

  • Python is from 1989, Ruby 1995.

    if someone wants to learn a new language there are others like Rust, Go....though those might just be fads

    • Python is from 1989, Ruby 1995.

      All right then, I'm gonna learn COBOL!

    • by zifn4b ( 1040588 )

      Python is from 1989, Ruby 1995.

      if someone wants to learn a new language there are others like Rust, Go....though those might just be fads

      bash scripting + curl only gets you so far with REST...

    • Python is from 1989, Ruby 1995.

      if someone wants to learn a new language there are others like Rust, Go....though those might just be fads

      I'm trying both those. While Golang is pretty easy, Rust is hurting my brain. The first few demo programs in Programming Rust [amazon.com] leave (for me) a lot of questions. Those demos also have a high "punctuation character to alphabetical character" ratio. Or perhaps it's a low "alpha to punctuation" ratio. Admittedly that isn't a standard measurement and I'd never noticed it before, but man, there's a butt-load of colons in there.

  • ...just learn how to do your job adequately? The Linux Administrator team at my work are largely a bunch of bullshit artists hacking through the forest.
  • Just a list of what it means to be a sys admin.
    If you don't already do these things, you suck at your job.

  • Let actual developers do it

A committee is a group that keeps the minutes and loses hours. -- Milton Berle

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