jb… a weblog by Jonathan Buys

The Unix Love Affair

There’s been times when I’ve walked away from the command line, times when I’ve thought about doing something else for a living. There’s even been brief periods of time when I’ve flirted with Windows servers. However, I’ve always come back to Unix, in one form or another. Starting with Solaris, then OpenBSD, then every flavor of Linux under the sun, to AIX, and back to Linux. Unix is something that I understand, something that makes sense.

Back in ‘96 when I started in the tech field, I discovered that I have a knack for understanding technology. Back then it was HF receivers and transmitters, circuit flow and 9600 baud circuits. Now I’m binding dual gigabit NICs together for additional bandwidth and failover in Red Hat. The process, the flow of logic, and the basics of troubleshooting still remain the same.

To troubleshoot a system effectively, you need to do more than just follow a list of pre-defined steps. You need to understand the system, you need to know the deep internals of not only how it works, but why. In the past 13 years of working in technology, I’ve found that learning the why is vastly more valuable.

Which brings me back to why I love working with Unix systems again. I understand why they act the way that they do, I understand the nature of the behavior. I find the layout of the filesystem to be elegant, and a minimally configured system to be best. I know that there are a lot of problems with the FSH, and I know that it’s been mangled more than once, but still. In Unix, everything is configured with a text file somewhere, normally in /etc, but from time to time somewhere else. Everything is a file, which is why tools like lsof work so well.

Yes, Unix can be frustrating, and yes, there are things that other operating systems do better. It is far from perfect, and has many faults. But, in the end, there is so much more to love about Unix then there is to hate.

work sysadmin linux