Today, on a very special Standalone Sysadmin...

Date June 11, 2009

I named this blog Standalone Sysadmin for a very good reason. Since 2003 or so, I have very much been a standalone sysadmin. I have worked on networks and infrastructures where, in some cases, the only single point of failure was me. This is not an ideal situation. My bus factor is through the roof.

I have previously complained about the amount of stress that I have at my current position pretty frequently on here (too frequently, really), and I've felt for a long time that it was caused by being the sole point of contact for any IT issues in the organization. The 2008 IT (dis)Satisfaction Survey backed up my beliefs.

After some extended discussions with management about my predicament, they have agreed to help me out by hiring a junior administrator to assist me in keeping the infrastructure together. Horray!

So, here is the job description. We're posting this on Craigslist and Monster. The emphasis is on junior administrator, because of the lack of money we have to put toward the role at the moment. Chances are that if you're already an administrator and you're reading this blog, you are probably more advanced than we're looking for, but maybe you know someone who is smart, young, and wants to get into IT administration, and located somewhere around Berkeley Heights, NJ. It might not be a lot of money, but it's definitely a learning experience, and whoever gets the job will get to play with cool toys ;-)

Here's the original post from Craigslist:

Small, growing, and dynamic company is seeking a junior administrator to enhance the sysadmin team. Responsibilities include desktop support, low level server and network administration, and performing on-call rotation with the lead administrator.

The ideal candidate will be an experienced Linux user who has performed some level of enterprise Linux administration (CentOS/RedHat/Slackware preferred). A history of technical support of Windows XP and Mac OS X is valuable, although the amount of remote support is limited. A familiarity with Windows Server 2003 is a plus.

The most important characteristic of our ideal candidate is the ability to learn quickly, think on his/her feet, and adapt to new situations.

  • Anonymous

    Some technology-focused job boards are Dice.com, Ars Technica, Joel on Software's board, and perhaps see if USENIX / SAGE have something.

    Not sure if there's any cost related to them, but they'd probably more likely focus your search to the demographic you than the wider nets of Craigslist and Monster.

  • jaymcjay

    Oh noes! I would've thought you'd be a Debian / Ubuntu fellow. I'm a little saddened to find otherwise.

  • Nick Anderson

    congrats on getting some relief. I've recently moved into a new position where I am still the lone admin but only for the local facility. I have resources I can pull in to help me solve problems if need be. It sure is a shift in mindset from being the absolute only admin by I'm finding it to be a good one. I am really looking forward to the extra knowledge pool.

    Good luck!

  • Matt

    @Anonymous

    I didn't consider Ars, and I completely forgot about dice. Joel's board is expensive, and honestly, anyone looking there or on the SAGE boards is probably over qualified for what we're looking for. Thanks for the hints, though!

    @Jaymcjay

    Actually, the servers are CentOS, but on my desktop at work (and at home), I'm Ubuntu. Ubuntu is the best desktop OS out there. In terms of supported enterprise software, though, RHEL (and CentOS, by association) are the most numerous. I wasn't particularly taken to them, since I started with Slackware in 1996, and RH and Slack had...well, different...ways of looking at the world :-)

    @Nick

    Thanks, I appreciate the thoughts. I'm glad you've got other resources you can utilize if you need to. I'm really looking forward to working with another admin. For a long time, this blog (and the others I follow) have been the closest thing I've had :-)

    Let me know if you have any tips for adjusting to a multi-admin setup. I know it's going to be different!

  • DDressler

    You don't just have experienced sysadmins reading this blog. For instance I'm reading this.
    Man, I wish you were in Calgary, I also wish I was out of school.

  • Matt

    @DDressler

    Thanks, I guess I forget sometimes. It's awesome that you go out of your way to learn about sysadmining. For what it's worth, it would be great if you could apply! I always like reading your comments, and I'm sure you'll do a great job where ever you get a chance to admin.

  • DDressler

    Well thank you. I do like reading up on this, although I do go through "spurts" of enthusiasm for computers. Lately I've been studying Japanese, now that would be interesting, sysadmining in japan. Most recently though I have been setting up a website for a game I used top play but which still has a fairly disorganized but large fan made map library. I guess thats more webmaster ish though. Of course if I was to standalone sysadmin knowing webmaster stuff would likely be needed.

  • Matt

    It certainly can run the gamut. I've found that things come in waves, which is fortunate, because it helps me learn and retain the knowledge, rather than forget it after a couple of days.

    Also, when you only have one person, documentation is crazy important. With multiple people, you can spread the knowledge around, but one brain just won't hold everything I need to know in a day, so I'm constantly referring back to documentation that I've written about how to solve a particular problem.

    A couple of weeks ago, I was at one of our colocations, and my boss was working on taking care of something for me while I was busy. He asked me how to do something, and I couldn't remember, so I just told him to come read this blog, because I talked about it a few weeks earlier :-)

  • DDressler

    I would have thought it to be the other way around. Anyway I will keep note of that.

  • Matt

    Documentation is just as important with multiple people, but with one person, it's absolutely necessary. Plus, like I said, my bus factor is off the chart. I've got to document stuff to try to lower it.

    Thanks again for following the blog, by the way. I'm really glad you like it and get something from it.

  • Anonymous

    If someone told me they thought they should run mission critical systems on slackware I would show them the door.

  • Matt

    @Anonymous

    There are arguments both ways, with the argument for being that Slack is rock solid and fully capable of many years worth of uptime. The argument against is stronger, saying that if you don't reboot on a pretty regular schedule, you're running an out of date and probably vulnerable kernel.

    I'm biased toward Slackware because A) I ran it for a decade and B) because if someone is an effective slackware administrator, learning any other distro is simple, because I fully believe that Slackware requires you to learn pure Linux. There is an old, old saying that goes "Learn RedHat, know RedHat. Learn Slackware, know Linux", and I have found that to be the case generally.

    I wouldn't scoff at someone who had experience with LFS either, or Gentoo even, though I may poke fun at them for being "a ricer" ;-)

  • Jack Hughes

    Will you be renaming your blog? Standalone +1 perhaps :)

  • chewyfruitloop

    congratulations on the PFY
    now you have to work on the B part of BOFH :)

    ahhh to have minions, I can dream I suppose

  • Matt

    @Jack
    Nope, I'm standing firm on the blog name :-) Just because I won't technically be a "standalone sysadmin" doesn't mean there aren't a ton out there who really don't get the attention that they should.

    @chewy
    Thanks! Yea, it's been a while since I've been surly enough to count as a BOFH. I try to stay away from that, just because I really like the people that I work with. :-)

  • AJ

    Congragulations on finally getting some help there bro.

  • Ryan Nedeff

    "My bus factor is through the roof."

    I always calculated your bus factor at "One." *shrug*

  • Matt

    @Ryan

    The scale can be inverse. It might be more clearly said that my bus factor is nonideal.

  • Anonymous

    Didn't realize you were in Canada (Calgary): perhaps try Workopolis as well. Same idea as Monster, but Canadian-based, so you may get local eyes there.

  • Matt

    @Anonymous

    Actually, I'm in New Jersey :-) A bit south of Canada, but thanks for the tip!

  • Andrew

    Matt, if only I were moving to that area, you'd definitely see my resume in your inbox. Glad to hear you're finally getting help. I might be a new reader of the blog and all, but I couldn't think of a much better mentor to have for someone starting out.

    This is the EXACT position I'm looking for though. You wouldn't happen to have any over-worked SysAdmins in the northern Bay Area, or around Gainesville, FL., would ya? :)

  • Kenny

    Jim told me about this, nice job on getting your own personal minion. If you guys ever open a colocation out here in Utah, think of me. :)