Answering General Questions About sysadmin

These questions are part of the repository named “test-your-sysadmin-skills” hosted on GitHub. I answered the questions to my best ability, and thought it might help another to craft their own answers.

Here are the questions.

What did you learn this week?

Using NPM on a Linux box is a bad idea unless the developer knows what he’s doing. The package manager is updated too consistently in order to be a complete solution to the issues it attempts to tackle.

What excites or interests you about the sysadmin world?

I love the ability of the machine to to automatically log everything, cleanly and precisely. And what excites me about that is how well Unix is built to parse the logs, and the multiple ways you can see very specific information relatively easy.

What is a recent technical challenge you experienced and how did you solve it?

A recent challenge I experienced was trying to install a open source package with NPM. I hadn’t used the npm explorer in about 3 months, but I still expected clean installs of packages.

I was met with multiple errors that I’d never encountered. I googled the issues, and I was lead to multiple packages that needed to be updated somewhere between last year and last week. So I decided to table the usage of npm until I become more familiar with it.

Tell me about the last major project you finished.

The last project I completed was a CSS parsing application built on Flask and JavaScript. I ran the application on a Apache Sever, and discovered advanced knowledge was needed to run a Flask operation on a Apache Server. So I looked for alternatives and settled on a Python Library called Tornado, which ran a separate web server on the non default port.

Describe the setup of your homelab.

My currents set up is pretty simple. At night, for sysadmin before i sleep, I use a Chromebook with a simple chrome extension that allows me to get command line access to my servers. I also use a Lenovo Laptop currently running XFCE on top of Ubuntu 18.10.

What personal achievement are you most proud of?

Learning how I work to achieve goals. And being aware of my weaknesses so I can improve them. This way I know where to improve. Also, sticking with my gut when something tells me this subject is worth going all the way into learn, in order to have a functioning knowledge.

Lots of packages today are pretty simple to use out of the box for their intended purpose. But lots of legacy Linux programs are really large, and when you see lots of error messages, its best to put it on hold until you can dedicate at-least one hour of your undivided attention. So my most proud moment would be sticking to that paradigm every-time, despite all urges telling me not to, and never being disappointed.

Tell me about the biggest mistake you’ve made. How would you do it differently today?

The biggest mistake I made is listening to the wrong people. When first starting out, I would go through pages of documentation expecting that when I finished reading, the program was reliable. I learned this is more often the case than not, so a mistake I made was paying attention to the hype around a new product or package. I would start to look at the signals for a good/bad package sooner, rather than because someone with a large following and influence in the community tweeted it.

What software tools are you going to install the first day at a new job?

Hopefully none!

Tell me about how you manage your knowledge database (e.g. wikis, files, portals).

I host all my notes on my github page. And when I need to grab the information, ill clone the repo and run filter commands on stdio. Here is a link to my knowledge database.

What news sources do you check daily? (sysadmin, security-related or other

In order.

Your NOC team has a new budget for sysadmin certifications. What certificate would you like and why?

RHCSA and RHCE. Because it’s using Linux on the largest scale there is. The Operating System powers companies who need to strictly adhere to exact methods in order to stay proficient. For example, the company UPS, and others like Hilton Hotel. The use case for the applications seem to be used for large scale operations, and I have interest in running something that large one day.

How do you interact with developers: us vs. them or all pulling together with a different approach?

I started out with the Linux command line, and then used Linux to power my applications I developed. One issue I noticed a lot was devs and sysadmins wouldn’t really be able to pan out the logistics of quickly scaling up to new employees. I’d automate this task first, at night after my second day.

Which sysadmin question would you ask, if you were interviewing me, to know, how good I’m with non-standard situations?

  • Which programs would you recomend for a computer with low memory to run a live stream in 1080P?
  • How would you rank those programs from most memory consumption to the least?
  • How would you handle a frozen GUI from the command line?

I feel these questions would encompass the most knowledge you’d expect a a person who claims they know Linux to have.

It covers processes, figuring out where the processes config files are, managing daemons, disabling non-critical processes as well as monitor network connections for speed and latency.

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