Jay of All Trades, Master of None

I almost titled this post “If we weren’t all crazy, we’d all go insane” — because it would have been wildly appropriate. That and I probably could use a few stiff boat drinks.

A good chunk of my time last week was caught up in understanding a java/tomcat package (volano) that eXtension purchased last year for public chats, and in transitioning it to a new server (and working with peer staff at Kentucky to make sure we were on the same sheet of music regarding the service). This led me to thinking about all the technologies that I’ve had to spend quality time with since we we started buying equipment in October. By quality time, I mean multiple hours and days in manuals and configuration files.

The list is rather long. And my personality is such that I feel like I have to be an expert in all of it, and sadly, that’s quite impossible. Here’s the list:

Apache HTTP Server Apple File Protocol Services Cyrus IMAPd Fogbugz iptables jabberd2 (and/or wildfire and/or ejabberd and several clients) Macintosh OS X Macintosh OS X Server (documentation) mailman mediawiki MySQL NFS OpenDirectory (see also OpenLDAP) OpenLDAP (see also OpenDirectory) OpenSSL PHP phpMyAdmin Postfix Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS (documentation) Rsync SpamAssassin Squirrelmail Subversion tomcat volano websvn Windows XP wordpress

Now, some of that might be partially redundant. I mean, one should understand a little about the Apple File Services if they have to deal with OS X Server, and iptables if they have to deal with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, but I’ve had to delve into the docs for both enough that they are really separate products until themselves. Linux is listed because I don’t even bother including things like ssh/sshd or PAM in the list, but I’ve had to delve into those too. This list doesn’t even include the various and sundry client side software running on OS X client and Windows XP, and having to have a fair amount of knowledge in those — especially things like web browsers and email clients and their configuration settings. Oh yeah, I get pulled into user support for just about every connection to the above services.

Then there’s trying to stay on top of hardware for this, notably the Dell Poweredge Servers, the Apple XServe, and the Apple XServe Raid — not to mention a smattering of the client hardware, especially as it deals with supporting non-IT oriented peer staff.

Oh yeah, and the there are technologies that I haven’t even really touched yet, but have to imminently:

Debian (or Fedora Core) (see jabber and rails) Fedora Core (or Debian) (see jabber and rails) lighttpd (possibly, see Rails) Macromedia Breeze (I sure hope not, but if so, Windows 2003 server too) Nagios Quicktime Streaming Server Ruby (w/ Rails) VMWare ESX Server (or Xen) (see jabber and rails) vtsurvey (probable) Xen (or VMWare ESX Server) (see jabber and rails)

And other things like VPN’s and VPN clients — and keeping up with various aspects (and competitors) of all of the above. Unfortunately there’s not much overlap with my IT peers and their roles here (although if I could coax them into dealing, support, and helping more with things like mediawiki, lighttpd, apache, and some of the other stuff I will 😉 )

Oh yeah, there’s a fair amount of coordination and project management that I pull myself into.

Such is the life of the University System Administrator. But this is a whole heapin’ ton of stuff when you get down to it.

It’s really time to hire someone and some students (and then add people and more project management to all of the above 🙂 )

Whew. Some days I just want to go back to that kid that started doing System 7 desktop support and writing inventory applications in hypercard at 19, and slap him around a bit and tell him to go back to chemical engineering or something.