SUMMARY: Stop the idiotic questions and useless summaries, please [plus additional resources]
From: Rich Kulawiec (rsk_at_gsp.org)
Date: Fri, 20 Jun 2003 08:45:23 -0400 To: Sun Managers <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is a summary with some additional information added in; it's long
because it includes a substantial number of resources that I find useful
when working with Sun/Unix/etc. systems and products. I included those
because I grumped about people NOT using such resources; I figured
it was only fair to make sure everyone knew what at least some of
them are. No doubt there are many others which I could have included;
I hope nobody will take offense at my omission of their favorites.
[ I should probably submit this material for review as a possible
addition to the FAQ. ]
36 letters received, 26 agreed, 1 disagreed, 2 were unintelligible,
and 7 were generated by broken autoresponders that failed to discriminate
between personal traffic and list traffic. (List: Steve Norton,
Stefan Pohl, Joseph Ryals, Duevel Juergen, Paul Talbot, Jim Mcvey,
Jason K. Kruse. Fix your autoresponders please, folks.)
The general sentiment seems to be that the problem isn't the level
of questions; after all, some simple questions may have complex answers.
The problem is the failure of [some] questioners to undertake even
rudimentary research to solve the problem(s), combined with very poor
descriptions of the problem(s). This is bad for them (because they
will never develop these skills), bad for their employers (same
reason) and bad for us (because it's a waste of our collective time).
So: RTFM, RTFFAQ, RTFarchives, RTFGoogle, and so on, FIRST. If the
problem remains, then take the time to compose a cogent description
of the problem (with things like version numbers, log messages, etc.)
so that anyone inclined to help actually CAN help. And after all
the responses have stopped coming in, take the time to write a summary
which really IS a summary and explains, in detail, exactly what you
did, what worked, what didn't work, etc.
And to everyone who already does these things -- and there are
obviously a fair number of people who do -- THANK YOU, and I apologize
for wasting your time with a message that you don't need to hear.
Did it do any good?
Well, I certainly *hoped* that it would, but it's hard to say:
the last several days' mail have brought more messages from people
who clearly didn't spend any time at all trying to help themselves.
This morning brought three more non-summaries, from lazy, selfish
people who were certainly willing to ask the members of the list for
help but were unwilling to make the small effort required to prepare
a proper summary for the benefit of everyone else.
- Nobody offered me a job as a BOFH. Bummer.
- One recently-departed list member explained to me that "I guess you were
born from a sun of bitch family." I corrected the epithet as part of
my long-term continuing-education program in proper flame technique,
so perhaps at least some small good will come of this.
- Several people mentioned one of my other pet peeves vis-a-vis this list:
the inclusion of corporate-mandated boilerplate that reads something like...
"This communication is private and is intended for the recipient
only. If you are not the intended blah blah blah".
Such boilerplate is worthless -- it's completely unenforceable.
In addition, messages sent here are being sent to a PUBLIC mailing list
which is PUBLICLY archived, so it's ridiculous to include it anyway.
So please, turn it off.
And now the resources; these are the ones that *I* find useful, which
may not be the same as the ones *you* find useful.
<a href="http://www.arin.net/tools/whois_help.html">ARIN whois</a>
<a href="http://www.geektools.com/cgi-bin/proxy.cgi">GEEKTOOLS whois</a>
<a href="http://www.completewhois.com/">Elan.Net 'Complete Whois'</a>
<a href="http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph/">Netcraft 'Site Running'</a>
<a href="http://www.internethealthreport.com/">Internet Health</a>
<a href="http://internettrafficreport.com/">Internet Traffic</a>
<a href="http://www.internetweather.com/">Internet Weather</a>
Each list has the RFC 2142-style subscription/unsubscription address listed.
DO NOT send subscribe/unsubscribe requests to the entire list.
I recommend avoiding all mailing lists hosted by either Topica or Yahoo
due to their very long track records of providing spam support services.
Note that Google groups archives all/nearly all of these.
I've found a number of open-source programs to be very handy in diagnosing
Sun problems. Here's the list of what I keep around most of the time:
lsof <--- There is at least one question a week on Sun-Managers to
which this is the answer. It's also mentioned in the FAQ.
You should probably just go get it, install it, and RTFM.
Some of these are available from sunfreeware.com, already built for you.
You can easily find the rest via Google, Freshmeat, or other resources.
---- Solaris/SunOS writes lots of logs; so do various daemons and servers. Many of these have variable levels of logging built into them, which can be very useful. RTFM to find out how to enable those more detailed logs. Manuals ------- The manuals which came with your system and/or are installed on your disks and/or are sitting on your CDROMs and/or are available from docs.sun.com make excellent reading. My suggestion for a starting point would be read all of the man pages in section 1, i.e. the entire contents of /usr/share/*man1*. Even if you don't understand all of it, or don't remember much of it, going through there at least once will help you later. If you repeat this exercise every six months you'll find that by about the fourth time through most of it makes some kind of sense. And get used to using "man -k". Install the rest of the documentation as well -- it doesn't take up much disk space, and if it's there, you'll use it. Well, you SHOULD use it. Source ------ "Use the source. Luke!" The source code for many programs is readily available. (In fact, the source code for the entire OS is available if you're in the right place and willing to sign an agreement, etc.) But even if you're not, the sources for commonly-used programs like sendmail, postfix, Apache httpd, BIND, and so on are all freely available. Get them. Use them. A lot of problems can be solved by grep'ing the source for the error message and reading the code found in its vicinity. Still more can be found by throwing in a printf() and recompiling. That means being able to read (mostly) C, shell (Bourne, C, Korn) and probably some perl. It's also helpful to be able to at least fumble through C++, awk, sed, python, tcl/tk, php and Java. Books/bookstores ---------------- There are NUMEROUS books on Sun systems admin, and on related areas (Unix, TCP/IP, web servers, DNS, sendmail, etc.). I'd recommend pretty much the entire O'Reilly catalog, as well as the Nemeth et.al. system admin book, Cockcroft's volume on performance tuning, TCP/IP Illustrated by Stevens, Bach's book on the design of Unix, and the firewalls book by Cheswick & Bellovin. The O'Reilly pocket guides are cheap, easy to carry around, and often have enough info to get you by lots of problems -- I've been walking around with the HTTP one for a while because I have frequent need to check the response codes. They're not a substitute for the full-length books, but they're darn handy and they'll fit in your laptop case. I'd also recommend checking Powells (powells.com) which has a huge selection of new, sale, and used books. I strongly prefer them over Amazon because (a) their customer service is superb and (b) unlike Amazon, they're not spammers. _______________________________________________ sunmanagers mailing list email@example.com http://www.sunmanagers.org/mailman/listinfo/sunmanagers