Linux Foundation SysAdmin Aric Gardner Avoids a GUI at All Costs
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Aric Gardner is a Linux Foundation SysAdmin who works on the OpenDaylight collaborative project. Here he tells the story of how became a sysadmin, shares his specialty in scripting and automation, and describes a typical day at work, among other things.
How long have you been a sys admin?
Aric Gardner: Since 2008. I have what may be an inspiring story about becoming a sysadmin. I had just moved to Montreal, with my then pregnant girlfriend. I was 22 and was working mostly odd jobs unloading shipping containers. My friend had given me his old computer and, let me tell you, Windows XP was not running well. Later that day, I was at the local cafe and I saw an Ubuntu live CD. When I got home I popped it in and was sucked into a world that has yet to spit me out. Three years later on the mlug, Evan Prodromou was looking for a sysadmin for his new startup, identi.ca. I hit the books and taught myself the basics of running a Nagios server. A few weeks later, I met him for an interview, told him I was green but willing, and he took me on. That moment really changed my life. My first task was to create the very Nagios server that would enslave me (happily) for the next three years. A big thanks to the anonymous member of the Linux community that left those live CD's at my cafe, and to Evan for giving me the opportunity to prove myself.
When did you start at the Linux Foundation and how did you get the job?
April 2014. I was working for eNovance and got headhunted by Konstantin. tsk. tsk.
What do you do for the Linux Foundation? What's your speciality?
I'm new here so other than learning the ropes, I've been making myself useful by migrating OpenDaylight's build infrastructure to Rackspace.
I don't like graphical interfaces or repetitive tasks (I know, typical), so I've become good at scripting and automating as much of my job as possible. So far I have scripts that grab snmp passwords and add new machines to our cacti servers, create and populate new puppet manifest, generate and distribute ssh keys for rsyncs, and probably a few others I'm forgetting. Just things that make my day more interesting.
Will you describe a typical day at work for you?
Lately, I've been creating custom machines for Rackspace (their images don't have SELinux) puppetizing them and then migrating existing Jenkins systems on to them. I try to leave something hanging from the day before so that I can hook into the that task and ramp up productivity as soon as I'm done with my first coffee. Barring that, I check the ticket queue and then my weekdone to see if anything is hanging. Since I'm new here I still have a lot of questions, so I also spend a good deal of time on IRC bugging tykeal (Andy).
What's your favorite part of the job/ thing to do and why?
I like to joke around with my coworkers to feel funny, and write scripts to feel clever. I just want to be loved.
A more serious answer is text processing, basically taking output and making it input to remove the teduim from my job.
What is your nightmare scenario? How have you prepared for it?
Oh boy. Clicking the wrong box on a graphical user interface with dire consequences. I try to avoid using them when I can.
What is your favorite sysadmin tool and how do you use it?
Just the regular tool belt. I like to pimp my vim, I recommend using pathogen to load up at least neocomplcache and syntastic, snip mate can be great as well. I'm also a big fan of awk, and writing good bash. If you want to up your game I really recommend this page. http://mywiki.wooledge.org/BashGuide
The guide is made by the wizards who hang out in #bash on freenode.
What's your favorite story about working at the Linux Foundation?
Hmm, not sure. I don't have too many stories. Ask me after August's LinuxCon in Chicago.
What do you do for fun, in your spare time?
Weekly I play ice hockey, ride my bike and check out my friends' shows in the local comedy scene. The overall theme of my life is more geared towards spending time on the Ottawa River and trying to tame the wild hearts of my children.
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