[colug-432] Computer Programmer Productivity Ratio

Scott Merrill skippy at skippy.net
Mon Jul 21 12:26:45 EDT 2014

Hash: SHA512

On 7/21/14, 12:11 PM, Ethan Dicks wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 21, 2014 at 7:10 AM, Jim Wildman <jim at rossberry.com>
> wrote:
>> As part of my work with Red Hat, I interact with the sys admins
>> at many companies.  I am no longer shocked at how many do not
>> understand the basic productivity enhancement tools available to
>> them like
>> shell history screen commands like watch in place shell
>> programming (basic for loops, etc)
> If you are saying there are sysadmins who sit at a shell prompt
> all day (as opposed to the GUI-clicky types, which is a different
> problem) and _don't_ use one or more of those tools *every day*, I
> have to wonder what other obvious things they don't know.

I agree that there is a necessary modicum of skill to be considered
"competent", but "obvious things" is a moving target based on situation.

I recently learned that someone who I consider to be a competent Linux
sysadmin had never personally installed Linux.  In his professional
life, that was a task always performed by a different team.

(Sure, one could argue that one could/should be installing Linux at
home to round out one's experience, but that's a very different

I rarely use anything other than the arrow keys to navigate my history
because I rarely have any situation arise in which the arrow keys are
insufficient.  If someone can be productive and successful with a
limited subset of the tools you find indispensable, it does not
necessarily make them inferior or subpar.

>> It's not hard to be better than most when the bar is set so low.
> One of my standard interview question threads explores how much
> the candidate knows about signals and processes - things like "what
> does the command 'kill -1' do?" or "what does 'kill' really do"
> (i.e., "send a signal to a process".  Even Wikipedia knows that).
> I've had "experienced" sysadmins tell me they don't really know
> because they've "never done that"... one guy was a greybeard who
> got started with UNIX before there was an Linux... I asked him if
> he ever edited a crontab (before "crontab -e") and how he got cron
> to notice what he did...

A lot of this kind of thing gets into self-congratulatory navel
gazing. While I know that `kill` sends signals to processes, I can't
tell you offhand what the individual numeric signals equate to.  It
doesn't matter within the context of my job: knowing the numeric value
isn't necessary to know how to send the signal I want to send.

The Linux world is different now than it was a decade ago.  It's
possible to be professionally successful without the kind of hard-won
deep expertise many of us acquired through years of tinkering and playing.


Version: GnuPG/MacGPG2 v2.0.22 (Darwin)
Comment: GPGTools - https://gpgtools.org


More information about the colug-432 mailing list