by Ted Doyle
Posted on Thu 14 February 2002 in articles
I think you are correct, there is a great similarity between computer people, and a great part of it is a passion for making the bloody things do great tricks (the digital equivalents of a loop the loop, or hand stands) as a result of some really elegant math on our part, or some really educated tinkering with an application's config files.
To us, the discovery of an undocumented feature that allows us to deliver to the user something no other admin can is a grail of some kind.
A net that never crashes is possibly another. And a net where whatever it takes, MS, Unix, Linux and SNA or even HG(v.1.0 Beta) (that's the new Hell's Gate system, they copied from a hacked XP OS src, they use to keep track of the damned down there)is all working together seamlessly must be up there somewhere.
In the interests of spreading our company's IT infrastructure risk as widely as possible, and in having a handle on available resources in the field, I recently got into an all-nighter with our admin guy. A serious planning meeting at The Iron Duke produced the plans for a way of sharing network load. We would have done it too, but the coasters were all soggy, and the pen ran. So instead we tore an old Word Processing terminal apart and built a Linux based file server in its case, using its pensioned off Celeron board. We punched up the memory limit to 512Mb and stuck a couple of 100 gig drives in it and then unwrapped the RedHat 8.0 distro, and went to work. Happy as a coupla sandboys. Hours of innocent fun.
We got it all fired up and the file systems we wanted to move off the main server were shifted over, mirrors in place, and put on the net, SAMBA was working and all the XP and NT stations and servers were visible and we looked on it and saw that it was good. The coffee pot bubbled, the sun aired the streets and the nine-to-five "norms" arrived from work. We observed them with the condescension of the truly dedicated and stalked off home, promising ourselves we would play with some of the linux based mail and Ldaps servers that came with the RH8 stuff. Talk about dumb luck!
That was 4 weeks ago. The little old fashioned desktop PC box we converted has sat purring away under the admin's desk all that time. Every now and then, in an idle moment I SSH onto it and check processes and traffic and it is just fine!
No reboots, no crashes, no complaints, no "extra" bits to buy and license and install. Now, admittedly it isn't doing a hell of a lot. It's just dealing out mounts and/or files and routing some mail and print jobs, but IT DOESN'T STOP. And here's a funny thing. Over the years I could never afford the time and money to go and get one of those "certificates" from MS or Novell, or anyone really. The past stretches behind me, a vast and darkling desert of missed opportunities for engineering kudos, starting with the VAX I first ever worked on. Gee, look what it's cost me, not going off to DEC school. I mean, that stuff would just be so relevant today.
I'm hardened to it now, how as I pass in the street people point and talk behind their hands, dogs bark and the eternal Board of Directors nod to each other when a file is lost, or a modem fails to dial.
All the kewel bits of paper on the wall of other offices, I have never had. Ah well, all I did was RTFM, hit the books, talked to other people, learned my stuff and always felt a bit guilty asking job applicants about their quals when my own certificates were the seat of my britches and past mistakes, but there ya go!
Now I think I might just go back to school and get a Red Hat cert. There's some stuff I'd really like to know. I feel about 19 again.
Ted Doyle IT Director Hanover Group
PS: when will a professional association of net admins issue a cert not owned by any company? if (pointer PS$arg==norecord) print PPS: what professional assoc? else set i "newidea"; class call && "offer" + i > newi printl newi
PPS: Hey Doug, ya wanna be chairman?...I'll settle for the treasurer's job. Anyone wanna join? end run && dev/stack clear stack.
'Sallright, I got the pills here somewheres. Send Comments to Ted Doyle