Last updated on March 29th, 2022 at 11:48 pm.
Reflections on server administration
Trying to fix server problems can feel like repairing stubborn automotive problems. At least the mechanical parts of a car are somewhat material. For example, you can hold parts and look for problems. Making repairs to servers involves mostly hunting through logs and cross-referencing error codes.
The restrictive terminal window and tedium of code induces migraines. Feeling a sense of urgency while your client’s site hangs in limbo boosts intensity. Perhaps a drop of sweat starts to dew on the forehead as the coffee takes hold. Hours start dropping rapidly and for a while the farther you get, the further you get from anything even remotely resembling solutions. Welcome to the world of servers, a literal matrix. If you think you might be interested in doing this kind of work, grab a cup of coffee and get ready to take notes. I’ll lay it out in simple fashion, and see what you think.
Linux, Mac and Windows, Oh my!
Server Administrators enjoy the fancy brands as much as anyone, but it all boils down to cross-platform functionality online. If you want to impress an admin, always mention the operating system and browser version, before you describe the issue. The layman tends to think everyone uses the same OS and browser they themselves use. It’s a kind of techno-myopia. Not knowing the OS and browser is a lot like working on a car agnostic of the make and model.
If you want to dive into server management, you should become familiar with all the operating systems. Not only that, but consider the variety of screen sizes and devices, each running its own special flavors. You’ll soon learn the quirks of each, and you’ll make a healthy amount of mistakes along the way.
Where does the Power come from?
When and how does someone get the nerve up to dive into server administration? Dabbling on the live server is mostly a matter of experience and making mistakes. In the beginning, however, one will encounter unknown terms, acronyms, and outlandish software titles by the dozen. Take it all with a grain of salt. Building familiarity works like magic to help you feel more comfortable over time. Start off with a spreadsheet or document to collect some of the things you discover in your research. You’ll need a working list of the latest greatest apps and a cheat sheet of your favorite command line inputs.
I also want to get you started on a suitable list to investigate some leads. There are some excellently curated lists already available on Github.
- https://github.com/awesome-selfhosted/awesome-selfhosted – big list of FOSS apps.