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Unix IT

30 Years a Sysadmin 162

itwbennett writes: Sandra Henry-Stocker's love affair with Unix started in the early 1980s when she 'was quickly enamored of the command line and how much [she] could get done using pipes and commands like grep.' Back then, she was working on a Zilog minicomputer, a system, she recalls, that was 'about this size of a dorm refrigerator'. Over the intervening years, a lot has changed, not just about the technology, but about the job itself. 'We might be 'just' doing systems administration, but that role has moved heavily into managing security, controlling access to a wide range of resources, analyzing network traffic, scrutinizing log files, and fixing the chinks on our cyber armor,' writes Henry-Stocker. What hasn't changed? Systems administration remains a largely thankless role with little room for career advancement, albeit one that she is quick to note is 'seldom boring' and 'reasonably' well-paid. And while 30 years might not be a world's record, it's pretty far along the bell curve; have you been at it longer?
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30 Years a Sysadmin

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  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @03:39PM (#50638639) Homepage Journal

    as a sysadmin!

  • by bjohnson ( 3225 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @03:47PM (#50638751)

    I've only been doing it for 21 years. :-)

    The only thing that hasn't changed is..nothing.

    I started out running a Dec Mini-Vax about the size of a washing machine, only much louder...(we still remember the blessed silence in our office/server 'room' the day it was finally turned off.) using (IIRC) kermit to connect to it from my desktop.

    Cut my unix teeth on a HP/Apollo franken-unix thing: part SysV, part BSD.

    All the machines I am sysadmin for now are Linux VM's, except my desktop systems...which all run OS X....so, yeah, still using Unix.

  • have you been at it longer?

    I'm not old enough to compete with her... Read my first Unix book in 1988. Was exposed to a Unix-computer for the first time in 1990. Got my own computer upon moving to the US (486, 33MHz) — and installed FreeBSD on it in 1993. That made me a sysadmin instantly, so I claim 22 years...

  • by Bigbutt ( 65939 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @03:50PM (#50638797) Homepage Journal

    Started with computers in 1980 as a Typesetter. Then a Timex Sinclair followed by a Color Computer and then an IBM. Professionally coding in 84. Building LANs and managing networks in 86. On the Internet at Johns Hopkins APL in 89 and managing 3+Share. Then 3+Open, LAN Manager, and Windows NT, then Solaris, Irix, HP-UX, and Linux at NASA. Now FreeBSD, Solaris, Linux, HP-UX, and Tru64.

    Downloaded Slackware in '93 I guess with all the 3.5" floppies. Mandrake, Red Hat, OpenBSD, Ubuntu, and still Slackware on my home gear (along with Windows and Apple gear).

    [John]

    • Slackware was a huge step forward from SLS.

    • I bought this book, 'Internet CD' in 1994. Had Slackware 0.something on it. Having just done battle with a SCO 3.x box trying to install a new printer, this was a revelation.

      What a fabulous book. Vivian Veou, you wrote a great little book, thanks!

      • SCO 3.x

        Man, being the SA for a SCO system was a blood sport.

        Kinda miss those days...

        P.S. Bought the same book at Tower Records Bookstore.
        Sadly they are gone too.

  • ..professionally.

    DOS
    NetWare 2.15 - 6
    SunOS
    Solaris
    VMS
    Linux 0.99pl12 - current
    ISC Unix
    OS/2
    Unixware
    Windows NT 3.51 - current

    Nothing changes.

    • Re:22 years (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday October 01, 2015 @05:07PM (#50639787)

      Since 1991:
      System 6/7
      MS-DOS
      386BSD (no, not BSD/386... 386BSD, Jolitz's version)
      Windows 3.11
      Solaris
      IRIX
      AIX
      Linux/Windows Server 2012R2

      What has changed since 1991:

      1: More reliance on networks for security. Most places, if the firewall or core fabric get compromised, everything is hosed. Since Windows usurped Solaris as the primary Internet based OS, it pretty much is assumed hosts will be compromised or misbehave.

      2: Less interest in what is happening at other sites. Used to be that if someone at a.com had an attack coming from them, email to postmaster@a.com or a phone call from the InterNIC record stopped it in the tracks (with the user being properly LARTed.) People even had identd so if a misbehaving user was causing trouble, other remote sites would know who it was... which kept IRC sane for a long while.

      3: The back-turning on security. Used to be virtually every company took security seriously. Now, unless someone rm -rfs /ifs/data/* on the core Isilon cluster, nobody gives a rat's ass, since security has no ROI.

      4: How shitty IT people are treated. Sysadmins used to be treated with some respect; basically the priests of the temple of Syrinx. Now? Viewed as fungible with cheap H-1Bs supposedly able to do what they do, except cheaper and 100% loyal (or they get deported).

      5: The offshore fetish. This is sort of equivalent to an enema fetish or vacuum bed fetish, except more messy. Move it offshore, even though it causes major delays and code quality issues with development, the initial costs are cheaper.

      6: Pertaining to #5, the fact that code quality has gone to crap. What would be an in-house version never seeing the light of day is now a pre-release candidate. "If it builds, ship it", is the motto now.

      7: No interest in backups. SANs are reliable, but it isn't tape, and it is only a matter of time before some hacking group starts purging SANs as a matter of course. Yes, the controllers are behind a management network, but there is always island hopping and unknown bugs. RAID isn't backups, replication isn't backups (it replicates the "rm -rf /"), snapshots are not backups, the only thing that are backups are copying to media that can be stored offline with 0 watts needed (other than HVAC/environmental items.) This already has killed a local company here in Austin when someone knocked their main servers offline.

      8: The fact that if you even have a -hint- of being depressed or anxious, you will be fired -stat-. So, you have to always pretend to be 100% "sane". Someone dies in your family and you are bereaved? Grounds for termination. Again, it is an offshoot of #4.

      • Sorry to hear #8, none of the IT companies I have worked for in the past 25yrs have had that attitude, companies ranged in size from IBM down to a three man startup.. As for #4, I spent 15yrs in blue collar work before stepping inside an office, so I knew how to handle arseholes before I started. The working conditions I have now are light years ahead of any blue collar job.

        Hard work or otherwise I know that I'm lucky to be in my position, having spent time as a member of Australia's "working poor" I thi
  • " with little room for career advancement"

    Most jobs have few possibilities for advancement beyond going into management. That isn't necessarily a bad thing. Its not like brain surgeons are bummed out they can't be something better.

    • Sorry, but that's a relative term and until pretty recently probably meant the exact opposite of what we promote today. Managers used to be the person who lacked the ability to do any real and meaningful work. Not quite smart enough to be the accountant, not skilled enough to touch commodities, and not of enough financial wealth to own their own company. I will prefix this with the fact that there are exceptions, most often in our (technical fields). That said, a large portion of most managerial jobs is

      • Not where I grew up, the 'manager' was the master tradesman/artisan, the person you are thinking of was his assistant, sometimes called a 'coordinator' or an "overseer". Sure any arsehole can shuffle task lists but skillfully herding cats is something very few people can do.

        In 25yrs I've only encountered two people who did it really well, neither of them were me and one of them died after 40yrs in the business. My own attitude now is "no thanks, tried that", I really am content being the metaphorical "br
    • by s.petry ( 762400 )
      Apologies also, since it appears that I completely misunderstood your post the first time I read it and we agree :)
    • Yeah, it's a universal truth; the only way to advance is to become a "leader of men". Nothing else is necessary, and nothing else is sufficient. Remember this when your leaders attempt to motivate you; they do not respect you or your abilities, and they will not deliver on any promises of advancement, but rather they will throw you scraps and expect you to be grateful for them.

    • I work for IBM, I had 3 advancement opportunities as a Systems Admin:

      1. Line Manager, Plain old management.
      2. PM
      3. Architect

      I tried all 3, (well, I skipped PM, I knew I did not want to make a living using MS Project) settled on Architect. Specifically an Integration Architect
      Now I manage from a technical aspect a group of SAs, developing technical offerings and acting as their interface layer with management. I am responsible from a technical aspect the quality of delivery of the services my SAs and other S

  • Been at since '89 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by russbutton ( 675993 ) <russ@@@russbutton...com> on Thursday October 01, 2015 @04:04PM (#50638971) Homepage

    I got my first UNIX sysadmin gig in '89. Had a Zenith Z29 dumb terminal off of a serial line to a Pyramid computer. We had Fujitsu Eagle disk drives that weighed about 300 pounds and had about 1 megabyte per pound of data density. They hung off off a Sun 180 acting as a file server. Backups were done directly to open reel tape. In that first job I once spent 3 days loading UNIX onto an AT&T 3B2. It came off of 8" floppy disks and I had to sit there and swap these things in/out for 3 days.

    I later worked at Sun Microsystems as a sysadmin, '92-94. We worked with prototype Sparc Center 1000 and 2000 machines in our server room. They worked with trays of 1.3GB disk drives off of a differential SCSI board. The 2000 (code named Dragon) had a max capacity of 1 TB of disk. When your drives are 1.3 GB drives, that's a LOT of drives. All of the RAID back then was done in software with a Sun product called On-line Disk Suite. Worked pretty well. There were a lot of people at Sun who wanted to kill it in favor of Veritas Volume Manager, but it worked too well and just refused to die.

    Command line? Oh c'mon. Of course we work at the command line when it makes sense. If you're not comfortable working at the command line, you should go back to managing Windows servers.

    My employer gave me an Apple Mac to use, which I hate. But it's that or Windows, which I also hate. I much prefer Ubuntu running the Windowmaker window manager. The Mac is adequate as a desktop, but I'd never spend money on a product that expensive with a 3 year useful lifespan. After 3 years, most anything Apple won't work with anything Apple which is new, which is why people keep buying the latest Mac toys that come out. It's a great business model, one which Microsoft ran for years.

    Computers are toys. I get paid for playing with toys all day long. It's not a bad way to make a living.

    • Yeah, but your GUI lets you *see* those terminal sessions rather than toggling through screen to see which script finished first.

    • My employer gave me an Apple Mac to use, which I hate. But it's that or Windows, which I also hate. I much prefer Ubuntu running the Windowmaker window manager. The Mac is adequate as a desktop, but I'd never spend money on a product that expensive with a 3 year useful lifespan. After 3 years, most anything Apple won't work with anything Apple which is new, which is why people keep buying the latest Mac toys that come out. It's a great business model, one which Microsoft ran for years.

      Nice rant, though completely afactual. Apple is actually very good about supporting old hardware. My personal laptop remains a MacBook Pro 3,1 (June 2007). To this day it runs the latest OS and all software. Apple similarly supports most other aged hardware. The only big transitions recently have been from PowerPC to Intel and 32-bit to 64-bit. A few slightly newer than 2007 models have been left behind due to 32-but uefi. My macpro 1,1 from 2006 is in this boat--luckily with a custom compiled bootloader (D

      • Re:Been at since '89 (Score:4, Informative)

        by russbutton ( 675993 ) <russ@@@russbutton...com> on Thursday October 01, 2015 @05:04PM (#50639753) Homepage

        I have a friend who had a 4 year old Mac laptop. He was big into recording his own music with ProTools. When he got a new iPhone 6, iTunes wouldn't work with it. He was instructed to upgrade Mac O/S, which did get his iTunes working but then broke ProTools. 4 years of recording work was lost unless he purchased a new ProTools license.

        Another friend had a Mac Laptop old enough that she couldn't upgrade it to the current rev of Mac O/S. When she purchased a new Airport Express, the version of the Airport Utility on her laptop wasn't compatible. She had to borrow an iPad from a friend to manage the Airport Express, which is just a home router. Every other home router on the planet is managed through a web browser GUI, but Apple makes you use their proprietary utility and that's how it is with everything Apple. It's all proprietary and you pay through the nose for it.

        I run a hi-end audio system at home and for a music server, I have a 10 year old Intel laptop running Ubuntu using the free, open source Banshee music server/manager. Nobody leaves my home without envy after hearing my rig. Linux software works fine on older gear and doesn't obsolete itself the way Apple products do.

        • I have a friend who had a 4 year old Mac laptop. He was big into recording his own music with ProTools. When he got a new iPhone 6, iTunes wouldn't work with it. He was instructed to upgrade Mac O/S, which did get his iTunes working but then broke ProTools. 4 years of recording work was lost unless he purchased a new ProTools license.

          So what you're really complaining about here is a 3rd-party software package (ProTools) not working on a recent operating system release? How exactly is that Apple's fault? My company uses Quark XPress with a license server. Quark v8 (released 2009) no longer works with OSX Mavericks or above, due to a deprecated system library--OpenTransport--used by the license checkout client. OpenTransport has been officially deprecated since OS X 10.4 was released in *2004*. Quark was using a library deprecated for ove

          • I have a friend who had a 4 year old Mac laptop. He was big into recording his own music with ProTools. When he got a new iPhone 6, iTunes wouldn't work with it. He was instructed to upgrade Mac O/S, which did get his iTunes working but then broke ProTools. 4 years of recording work was lost unless he purchased a new ProTools license.

            So what you're really complaining about here is a 3rd-party software package (ProTools) not working on a recent operating system release? How exactly is that Apple's fault?

            For years Apple was seen as the platform of choice for graphics artists and musicians. They really were the core constituency for a very long time. ProTools is the music industry standard for music production and editing. When you buy ProTools on Apple, you're buying the whole platform and should reasonably expect it to be sustainable over the useful life of the hardware. To ask who is responsible here is a very good question.

            From where I sit, I look at Apple and the apps you get for it as a platfo

          • by c ( 8461 )

            So what you're really complaining about here is a 3rd-party software package (ProTools) not working on a recent operating system release?

            No. He's complaining about a new Apple iPhone requiring a gratuitous O/S update of another Apple product.

            This same thing happened to my wife a while ago... she got an iPod Nano, which required a new version of iTunes, which required a newer version of OS/X (Jaguar on the iBook, IIRC), which... well, that was a fucking pile of grief for stuff that's supposed to Just Work, i

            • No. He's complaining about a new Apple iPhone requiring a gratuitous O/S update of another Apple product.

              Can't be that gratuitous. The current version of iTunes runs on any of the last 4 OS revisions, covering about 4 years and probably 10 years of hardware at a minimum. IIRC, earlier iTunes generally supported older operating systems, but they started moving the requirements up once they started glomping on more cloud functionality. You won't get any defense of iTunes out of me--it's a horrible mess and I hate it.

              This same thing happened to my wife a while ago... she got an iPod Nano, which required a new version of iTunes, which required a newer version of OS/X (Jaguar on the iBook, IIRC), which... well, that was a fucking pile of grief for stuff that's supposed to Just Work, isn't it?

              One nice thing about Macs is, no, it's really not a "fucking pile of grief." OSX upgrades are bas

              • by c ( 8461 )

                The current version of iTunes runs on any of the last 4 OS revisions, covering about 4 years and probably 10 years of hardware at a minimum.

                At the time, the hardware was 4-5 years old (iBook G4, 3rd gen nano; you do the math).

                One nice thing about Macs is, no, it's really not a "fucking pile of grief.

                Oh, it was. The OS/X upgrade wasn't free, for one thing. Apple fucked up and sent the french version, because apparently that's the default language they send to Canadians. Eventually got it, and the install was

                • Oh, it was. The OS/X upgrade wasn't free, for one thing. Apple fucked up and sent the french version, because apparently that's the default language they send to Canadians. Eventually got it, and the install was... well, after a couple attempts it worked. Don't get me wrong, it was still easier than installing Windows, but it wasn't fun.
                  I assume they've gotten better in the last decade, but I definitely identify with the previous poster about his ProTools experience. When Apple stuff works, it works well and in harmony with everything else. When it doesn't, it's not pretty.

                  I only used Jaguar (10.2, released 2002) in testing. At the time I viewed OS X 10.2 as basically a beta release. 10.1 was clearly unfinished. 10.2 was getting closer, but still had a long ways to go, and the system APIs were still in a great flux. We (production usage at work) actually kept running all of our Macs on OS 9 until 10.4 (2003/2004) came out and had at least one computer still running OS 9 until maybe 2009.

                  You're right that things have changed a lot in the last 15 years :-P

                  I assume they've gotten better in the last decade, but I definitely identify with the previous poster about his ProTools experience. When Apple stuff works, it works well and in harmony with everything else. When it doesn't, it's not pretty.

                  Operating system updat

                  • by c ( 8461 )

                    Operating system updates breaking old software is nothing even remotely specific to Apple, and I don't even think Apple is particularly bad about it.

                    No, that's just a side-effect. The real issue is new pieces of Apple hardware forcing OS/X upgrades because Apple can't be bothered to make iTunes backwards or forwards compatible. I mean, even Windows users have a smoother experience... possibly as a consolation for having to run Windows, but still...

                    Yeah, I've replaced my share of hard drives in Apples, and t

        • Another friend had a Mac Laptop old enough that she couldn't upgrade it to the current rev of Mac O/S. When she purchased a new Airport Express, the version of the Airport Utility on her laptop wasn't compatible. She had to borrow an iPad from a friend to manage the Airport Express, which is just a home router. Every other home router on the planet is managed through a web browser GUI, but Apple makes you use their proprietary utility and that's how it is with everything Apple. It's all proprietary and you pay through the nose for it.

          I realized upon further checking that the 6th-gen airport isn't covered in this list, and I'm not sure what the software specs for it are (which versions of the utility will manage it). It's quite possible it's the same as the other generations. The current version of the Airport Utility requires OSX 10.7 (release 2011).

          • I realized upon further checking that the 6th-gen airport isn't covered in this list, and I'm not sure what the software specs for it are (which versions of the utility will manage it). It's quite possible it's the same as the other generations. The current version of the Airport Utility requires OSX 10.7 (release 2011).

            My friend who had the Airport Express is a total techno doofus, but she's a great tenor saxophone player. She uses her Mac primarily for music playback. She couldn't figure out how to get the Airport Express working and asked me to come over and set it up. Though the Airport Utility on her Mac would talk to the Airport Express, there were numerous warnings to not use it, and things were acting badly enough that it was probably good advice. I did get things working, but it's all a kludge.

            She eventuall

  • I had not thought much about it. I plan on retiring using Unix/Linux.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Linux is so easy now a days that even an Apple fanboy can use it.

  • 36 years here. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by JustNiz ( 692889 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @04:19PM (#50639181)

    First program I ever wrote was about 38 years ago, a 0's and X's game on an Wang 380 (programmable calculator from the late 1960's that used punched cards) but I have been working as a software developer professionally for about 36 years now.

  • It's treated like plumbing: As long as it works, nobody cares and takes it for granted. It may be a lot of work keeping it tuned and preventing long-term problems with limited resources, but users and managers generally don't directly see or understand such effort.

  • by VAXcat ( 674775 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @04:28PM (#50639295)
    Been a System Programmer/System Manager/Sysadmin since 1976. Only worked at three different places...not bad, nicht wahr?
  • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @04:42PM (#50639519) Homepage Journal

    Must have been a Zilog System 8000. Probably a model 21, as that was dorm fridge sized. The 31 and 32 were the size of a full size refrigerator.

    Ran a Z8000 series processor at 10 MHz, and had about 8MB (if you were lucky) RAM. The hard drives were about 40MB and had an SMD interface.

    They ran ZEUS, which was Zilog's System III variant.

    I loved ours.

    • by Tablizer ( 95088 )

      I once used something like such in a class on microprocessors and machine language, and it indeed was almost fridge sized. It was already obsolete at the time of the class, but since it was for training, performance & storage size issues didn't matter much. All the manuals and lesson docs were already written up for it such that teachers didn't want to upgrade.

  • by ErichTheRed ( 39327 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @04:44PM (#50639551)

    I've been doing systems work of some kind since the early 90s. The technology changes a lot, but learning the fundamental concepts early on will allow any sysadmin to continue being productive even when entire platforms get swapped out from under you. Unix --> Linux, Windows GUI --> Windows PowerShell, Physical servers --> Virtual servers, Virtual on-site servers --> cloudy virtual servers -- all these transitions can be made successfully by falling back on the fundamental tasks of controlling access, dealing with failures, providing resources, etc. that are similar at their core no matter what you're running on.

    The thing that trips up a lot of sysadmins is getting bogged down in the details of one particular platform or aspect of their job and not seeing the big changes that come up. For the right kind of crazy person, this job is actually fun. I hope I'm doing something like it years from now.

  • Almost 20 years (Score:5, Interesting)

    by dave562 ( 969951 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @04:59PM (#50639681) Journal

    I have been earning a paycheck doing IT work since 1996.

    The biggest change that I have seen is the need to specialize. When I started, I was able to be a jack of all trades kind of sysadmin.

    One of my bosses imparted the following wisdom to me. "To be a good IT professional, you need to understand systems administration, programming and networking." He was not implying that one needed to master all three of them. One just needs to understand enough about all three to be conversant about them with other professionals who might be experts in them.

    These days, generalists are looked down upon. There is simply too much to know, and roles / job descriptions are too siloed. People are hired to perform a specific set of tasks or to have proficiency over a small portion of an entire environment. The larger the organization, the more prevalent this becomes.

    • On the flip side, being to specific is also bad. A programmer thinking he has to update his code that is served up via tomcat before a new SSL certificate can be installed, etc. Knowing *something* about all of the other fields is required still...

  • Was a mainframe systems programmer on IBM and Univac machines starting about 1972 or so. First Unix machine I worked on was a Callan workstation somewhere around 1981, followed by 68K Suns, Motorola VME buss systems (which we built from spare parts and installed Sys V on), Sparc Suns, then the usual Linux suspects somewhere around 99 or 2000. Sysadming wasn't my primary job, but somehow I was in charge of keeping them going. I did see a PDP-11 Unix machine in the mainframe room at Western Electric Greensb
  • Thank You TRS-80 (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    My dad bought a TRS-80 in 1980 and didn't know what to do with it. His 7 year old son learned he could use something called BASIC to make that command line come alive and 35 years later I have been blessed with an astonishing digital career.

    Hats off to sysadmins of all experiences levels everywhere, long timers and noobs alike.

  • Been doing sysadmin on Unix since minicomputers. Started as a Field Engineer on PDP11's and VAXes... Taught sysadmin for a while. Still can't figure out why but I seem to like beating computers into submission. Did SysV, BSD, SunOS, Solaris,Pyramid's OS/x and DC/OSx, HP-UX, AIX, FreeBSD, Linux... Don't know why people think they're different things...

    I used to do Sysadmin training for a mini-vendor for a while.

    Pretty easy to transition from one to another back when companies were willing to train... T

    • by MrKaos ( 858439 )

      Been doing sysadmin on Unix since minicomputers.

      I'm in this club this year too, though my "career" started many years before on a TRS-80 and building electronics projects - great fun. I remember sweeping floors to save enough to buy a low voltage soldering iron. The day I found out I could do this as a career was the day my career started and a couple of years later I got my first computer job roughly 28 years ago. SCO, SunOS/Solaris, AT&T, AIX, HP/UX, Linux and C.

      People seem to complain about sysadmin work however, I find it exciting and it was an

  • by ChesterRafoon ( 4205907 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @05:30PM (#50640047)
    First system I ever booted was a DEC PDP-8. I have actually loaded code with paper tape. Favorite system of my entire career to date was the VAX 11/780 running VMS. Thank you Dave Cutler. Now you kids get off my lawn ...
    • by ggerke ( 4279235 )
      Being a sysadmin may be a thankless job but I've enjoyed the bejeezus out of it since the mid 80's or so. My buttocks have been planted at three places since the beginning.

      +1 for the 780. Big as three-four fridges (depending on options) and having multiple RA60's? That's when you know you're living large, my friend.

      The first systems I managed were 11/780's running VMS and PDP's with IAS. I remember the admin that I replaced on the 780, as a parting gift he removed (well, del - alas, DCL, where hast th
  • 1978-2007+ (Score:5, Interesting)

    by randalware ( 720317 ) on Thursday October 01, 2015 @05:32PM (#50640057) Journal

    system manager root ---- the accounts I used 80% of my day
    the computer room ---- where I was 80% of the time
    my cube/meetings --- the place I was 20% of the day
    mac/windows desktop --- the thing I used for documentation/powerpoint/email and web surfing

    unix/vms/mvs/os-9 ---- my main operating systems
    c/perl/fortran/+ --- the languages used

    currently on a medical forced sabatical and working on personal computer projects.

    bad systems problems start at the top (budgets/scheduling/manpower/etc), the sysadmin knows this...
    bring time, money, and quiet voices, then go to lunch with the sysadmin.
    the napkin drawing will be the outline of the solution. (one of my old bosses kept a collection of million dollar project's first napkin designs)

    support & listen to your local sysadmin...

  • Started in 1985 as a sysadmin on a VAX 780 running BSD 4.1. Soon after that I was thrusted into the workstation world with Apollos and Suns. Touched a few SGIs, AIX, and other Unix workstations along the way. Then when Unix started hitting the datacenters (early '90s?), I moved to the server world and have been here ever since.
  • A network of Apollo's running Aegis (later Domain/OS), HP's running hpux, RT's running AIX and PC's running Xenix. Also had to deal with the VMS cluster and the Novell 2.51/ARCnet cluster... Later it was SGI's and even a Cray YMP-EL98... But it's been embedded firmware for the last 15 years...

    My first e-mail address had a bang-path. Get off my lawn.
  • I think it was just a few years after its first printing. I think the Unix Programming Environment book I bought in 1985 was still the first edition.
  • I put the company I worked for on Usenet in 1982. (My "hello world" message is still available via google groups.) That was the point where I switched from engineering to systems administration.

  • Forced to be on winodws by the employer. Cygwin to the rescue. Most people think I am running a linux machine with dozens of shells all over the screens. I use grep, awk, sed, find, comm and join a lot.
  • I won't say whether my first UNIX predates hers, but I've certainly been at it long enough to share early experiences with her. I no longer keep my original ancient hardware, it's too bulky and unusable by now. But oh, my, when an old lesson from the first jobs or the earliest days comes back to haunt you and need explanation to the youngsters, it's gratifying. And when the old lessons from your first mentors can be passed on and shown to still be critical, and still valid, and have not been taught to newer

  • Changes I enjoyed.

    • Logical Volume Manager: I don't miss working with partitions. I love mirroring and being able to migrate live filesystems.When mirroring came along I was able to sleep more.My first LVM was on AIX, so I enjoyed having the entire system handled by an LVM. Solaris took forever to catch up. Now all UNIX OSes have an LVM.
    • SAN: I don't even have to worry about mirroring any more, on the OS level. I can add, remove, grow and move disks dynamically.
    • Virtualization: VMWare, KVM, AIX Lpars, I can dy
  • I started on punch cards in 1972. Worked mostly with punch cards on a CDC 3400, 6600 and 7600, and with punched paper tapes on a 12-bit PDP-8 minicomputer in the 70s, and it seems like I've touched everything under the sun since then: Wang, CDC, Cray, DEC PDP-11 and VAX minicomputers, Data General 16 and 32-bit minicomputers, Tektronix (4054?), Prime minis, HP minis and workstations, Silicon Graphics, IBM, Sun, UNIX from AT&T, UNIX from many others, UNIX-clones before Linux, Linux, old Mac OS, new Mac O

  • Roughly 34 as systems programmer/sysadmin (things were kind of blurred in the mid 70s); Did my time on:
    IBM 360/30 (new) (DOS)
    Burroughs Medium Systems (B2500 and B3700) (MCP/V) (Pronounced Master Control Program Five)
    Raytheon PTS 1200
    Honeywell DPS-8/44\ (GCOS -3)
    Honeywell DPS-6 (field systems; replaced the Raytheons)
    IBM 4381 (MVS)
    IBM 3090-200 J (MVS-XA)
    IBM 9672-R1 (MVS-ESA)
    And finally, starting in 1996 - IBM RS-6000 systems; got into storage area networks with these.

    Retired in 2009; 34 years at my
  • I was a programmer, not a sysadmin, though sometimes I was in small shops where everybody kinda did sysadmin. My first experience was in college in the mid 60s with a PDP-8 but I didn't really get serious for another 10 years. But, it was a good time to be in computing. There were lots of different companies trying out different things, and you weren't forced into specializations. I worked for small companies, big companies, scientific companies with PhD physicists and chemists running around, business

  • I learned to program in school in 1974, we used Fortran IV. But there were no computers at the school, so we had to write our programs out on special coding forms, post them via snail-mail to the regional computing center, where they punched them onto cards and fed them into their IBM mainframe - if/when they had time to spare at the end of their payroll runs. The resulting paper printout was then posted back to us. It took about 10 days to turn around a single run - and our course only lasted 8 weeks - so,

  • posts by authors with slashdot user numbers having only 5 or 6 digits.

  • Chinks go in your armour, not on it.

  • by Mr. Protocol ( 73424 ) on Friday October 02, 2015 @03:44AM (#50642839)

    I've been doing UNIX since about 1974. I started out on research version 5 on a PDP-11, because that's the only architecture UNIX ran on in those days. v6 was the version that was much more widely distributed to academics, and v7 was the even more widely distributed update that led to the BSD derivatives.

    v5 was pretty damn raw. There were no shell variables. "ed" was still written in assembler. Etc. Uphill through the snow both ways. Still, it was FAR better than any of the vendor OSes, no matter what people say about RSX-11. So I founded the first UNIX User's Group Software Distribution Center, purely so I could get my hands on all that goody-poo software. I also produced the very first T-shirt with a UNIX demon on it, for the Urbana, Ill. UNIX meeting - the first national meeting of UNIX users. I gave one to Ken Thompson, one to Dennis Ritchie, and kept two for myself. I still have them. If you've ever seen early USENIX T-shirts with a PDP-11 with pipes, demons, pitchforks, and a barrel labeled NULL, well, that was me (art by Phil Foglio to my design).

    • Solaris was MY first hands-on exposure to Unix. I was born in 1967, and until 1998, I had been programming, much of which for aerospace R & D, where we simply abstracted away both OS and hardware. So, at 31, I was sitting there, looking at the blinking bar in a ksh shell [bash was not available until later versions of Solaris]. I had just sunk more than a month's worth of pay into an HP server with TWO processors - the thing was considered a powerful beast, and trumped by far all machines any of my coll
  • around 1988. The hardware was a Sun 3 (Motorola 68020 CPU), the console ran SunView (I think we installed X11 later). Shortly after that I began dabbling in Minix on an 8086 machine at home, later installed Coherent on a 386. Didn't try Linux until I bought a distro from SLS, it had 0.99pl14 and the box came with about 30 floppy disks.

    On my next job I was an AIX admin. It was another 10 years before I was working with Linux full time.

  • by choke ( 6831 )

    I've been at it about that long. My very first UNIX support role for pay was with UNIX System III in 1985, so yeah 30 years this year. Creepy.

    I worked on other things before that though, just not in a perm role.

    I am unix grognard.

  • by prgrmr ( 568806 ) on Friday October 02, 2015 @11:04AM (#50645257) Journal
    I started out as a programmer, and spent my first 10 years in IT doing green-screen programming on various flavors of Pick. I got my first taste of system admin'ing on a Sequoia running TOPIX, and then made the move to full time system admin on a DEC Alpha 8400 running Digital Unix and Universe. The first version of Linux I worked with was Red Hat 3, and have not looked back. I admin 50 servers today and none of them run a GUI, it's all command line using bash and Python.
  • 24 years for me, started on a Netware 4.12 ThickLAN network running Banyan Vines.
    yes I worked with vampire taps and token rings.

If I'd known computer science was going to be like this, I'd never have given up being a rock 'n' roll star. -- G. Hirst

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