[colug-432] the /etc test

Brian Miller bnmille at gmail.com
Tue Jul 22 20:25:23 EDT 2014

On 07/21/2014 04:34 PM, Rick Troth wrote:
> Pronounced "the etsy test".
> In job A, I learned about the /etc test.
> In job B, I tried to apply it. Didn't go well.
> In job A, the Unix team hired a PhD student who was ostensibly a Unix
> heavy. Guy's working on a doctorate so he's not suffering from lack of
> basic brains, and he'd been *on* the Unix systems for months. But they
> had to let him go after just a week. It was embarrassing and painful.
> Somehow he passed the interview only to fall flat with real work. What
> happened?
> Looking for a sharper edge, someone on that team hit upon "the /etc
> test". The idea was ...
>     cd /etc
>     ls
>     "tell me what each of these is used for"
> It's a Kobayashi Maru. You're going to fail. Something in the range of
> files will be outside your domain of knowledge. But the intent (of the
> interviewers) was to see how far you get. (And maybe also see how you
> handle the unknowns.)
> In job B, I was allowed to be part of the interviewing panel. As if
> candidates were not intimidated enough, I threw in the /etc test. Once.
> We hired that candidate, and she was terrific, an excellent
> engineer/admin. But she let us know with certainty (after joining the
> team) that "the /etc test" was a bad idea (in her not so humble opinion).

How about this?

Tell the candidate to pick a letter:  b c g i l m n r

cd /etc
ls -d "$ChosenLetter"*
"tell me what each of these if for"

I picked those letters, because on my reference system, there were 
between 15 and 20 files/directories that started with them.

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