What makes a SysAdmin ?

The following was writen by James R. Ware (jware@cdpa.state.ms.us) on the newsgroup comp.unix.admin.


  1. A deep streak of Masochism, very little life and the ability to wake up nice and cheery at 2am to a panicked phone call from an idiot user who has just done something stupid that is going to cost you two weeks work.

  2. At least a BS in Computer Science. With all the BS in this game, you'll need at least that much.

  3. Experience. Of course you can't get a job until you've got experience so the mere existence of systems administrators is a logical impossibility since the first one has never been hired.

  4. The patience of Job (for eventually you will wish to curse God and die).

  5. A good sense of humor - Lest the job should drive you into the SERIAL KILLER business.

  6. Good Communications Skills - So that you can tell a user tactfully and diplomatically that if he (or she) ever does anything as stupid as that again, that you are personally going to choke the living shit out of them.

  7. Good Vendor Interaction Skills - So that you can bribe your service vendors technicians so that they will actually do/perform services as advertised, on time.

  8. Good Networking Skills - So that you actually know that your multi-million dollar network is down and the users aren't just complaining because they haven't got the skills, training or a clue as to how to USE it.

  9. Salesmanship - So that you can get management to actually support your installation with needed capital for necessary training, software, hardware and diagnostic tools rather than tell you : THAT IS WHAT WE PAY YOU TO DO.

  10. A Severe Mental Disorder - So that you do not immediately recognize that the position of Systems Administrator is roughly equilvalent to wearing a "KICK ME, I'm Stupid" T-Shirt.

  11. A Secondary Job Skill - So that when you eventually BURN OUT, you won't starve. You want extra pickle on that?


As an experienced Systems Administrator, I consider these eleven attributes to essential to a competent SA. But since SA's are only a theoretical possibility (see Above), I myself can not possibly exist, nor can this news group, its corresponding members nor the Internet itself. So this entire discussion is a delusion - a logical paradox which can only exist in the Twilight Zone.

NURSE! GET MY MEDICATION.... I'm having another one of those DAMNED FITS...


Heather Garvey / raven@xnet.com