Confessions of a SysOP – Linux Enthusiasm in the Enterprise Environment

Dell RHEL 6

I used to be highly enthusiastic about open and free information technology, and I still am to some extent, but the workplace made me think critically in a new way.

Ever since my first introduction to Linux a couple of years ago, running as a Knoppix Live DVD on my parents old HP 3GHz Pentium 4, I’ve had a constant buzz from all the quirky and cool features. It didn’t take long until I discovered and familiarized myself with the shell, and learned about it’s place in the operating system. How could I have missed this?

Soon thereafter, I gathered the courage to install it for the first time. This time on an old Packard Bell laptop. Ubuntu 6.04 was my system of choice at the time, and to this day I don’t regret it. I’ve always felt that Debian has a more Human touch.

Fast-forward a couple of years and I’m studying this marvelous OS, for two years, full time. My initial experience was nothing short of a technological enlightenment. Linux or not, *Nix systems have a very colorful history, and has always had ha place in IT infrastructure. Here, I was taught what Linux does best, in the elusive Enterprise Environment (that phrase still gives me chills).

Business critical server services such as DNS, SMTP, SQL, HTTP, NFS, FTP, Certificate signing and various applications hosted -on none other than- Linux. What else? Who wouldn’t?

Then came, the work environment. There I learned, the hard way, that not everyone is so understanding.

Why, for example, would the web-developer ask me to “chmod 777” every file in the application directory and “./”, while running and owned by user root (!!!).

Or, perhaps, order a publicly accessible file server and emphasize on security. Noting that user directories should be chrooted and not be able to access each other, Challenge Accepted. Two weeks later: “Could we make it so that user A can read/write in the home-directories of users C, D and E? Also, could we use FTP instead of that pesky sFTP? It’s time-consuming emailing keys” (…).

How about, receiving the request: “Could we add the zone company.local to your public authoritative name server?  All our servers, internal and public, already use it as their primary DNS server. Adding a couple company.local sub-domains there would be a quick fix. Right?” (… no).

Never let them see you bleed.

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