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Journal slashfucker's Journal: A Conversation with Human Resources

A Conversation with Human Resources

Human Resources Representative: Good afternoon, Stuart.

Stuart: Hi.

HR: As you may have heard, we have been conducting interviews with certain personnel lately. In the current economic climate, our company is looking to reduce costs wherever possible. This may also, unfortunately, include "right-sizing" in certain departments head counts. In order to be absolutely fair, we are giving the persons whose positions are being considered for right-sizing the opportunity to justify their current positions worth. Do you understand?

Stuart: You're going to fire me?

HR:No, Stuart. "Right-sizing" is not about firing people. Based on your answers to a few questions, your departments head count will be evaluated. This may include shifting of positions and responsibilities, adjustments to salaries, and in some cases individuals may be released from employment. Does this help you understand?

Stuart: I guess so...

HR: Alright, lets begin. According to our files, your present position is Unix Systems Administrator, is that correct?

Stuart: Uhh, yeah.

HR: And what responsibilities, in your view, does your position entail?

Stuart: I administer to the Unix systems, which includes 4 GNU/Linux Samba servers, 8 load-balanced GNU/Linux Apache web servers, and a FreeBSD firewall... Hey, if you're looking to fi.. err, "right-size" somebody, why don't you look at the two NT admin guys? After all, they have much less experience than me; they're just a bunch of paper MCSEs, which just means you memorized a bunch of stuff and passed a test. They don't have any real admin experience, like with a GNU/Linux system.

HR: We'll get to that in just a moment. In what ways would you say your expertise is vital to the continued operation of these servers?

Stuart: Well, I know just about everything there is to know about GNU/Linux and the associated GNU operating system utilities.

HR: Mmmhmmm. In this email from the director of IS, he tells me that the company is considering the elimination of Linux from the environment in order to lower our TCO -- total cost of operation, I think? No, total cost of ownership. He says we are considering replacing these servers with Windows 2000 Advanced Server, running IIS 5. What do you think about this?

Stuart: That's a stupid idea. Winbl... err, Windows is extremely difficult to administer. You have to keep up with new security patches coming out every 2 hours, and on top of all that you have to deal with the Blue Screen of Death every day, and Microsoft charges you like 500 bucks every time you call them.

HR: So Windows is much harder to administer than Linux?

Stuart: That's right. As a matter of fact, if you just got rid of the Microsl... err, Microsoft boxen, you could replace them with GNU/Linux and save some money on the licenses right there.

HR: Explain this to me. If Windows is so difficult to administer, why are the NT administrators able to support twice as many servers, given their limited "real world" experience, and the fact that they are only "paper MCSEs"?

Stuart: Err, they're probably just not doing their job. After all, my FreeBSD box has a 279 day uptime. Their Microsh... err, Microsoft boxen are up and down every week because of security patches.

HR: Yes, the FreeBSD firewall is an interesting topic. We had an outside security consultant come in, and he found that the FreeBSD firewall had not been patched for a vulnerability in a program called "Open SSH". The NT servers were up-to-date on patches, and properly secured. In addition, a large proportion of helpdesk tickets are called in because of issues with the Samba file servers. How do you respond to this?

Stuart: What? Gaah, the OpenSSH exploit was only a local root exploit!! There's no reason to take down a server with almost 300 days uptime to patch it!! And those people just have problems because they are running Windows 2000 on their PCs!! Microsoft deliberately changed the SMB standard to cripple open source competitors!! If the users weren't so obsessed with using their Outlook calendars and their Powerpoint presentations, they could just use Mandrake or something with StarOffice, and everything would be fine!!

HR: There's no reason to get excited, Stuart. These are just questions we have to ask. Now, given that you say Linux is far easier to administer than Windows, is there any reason to believe that if we bring on another NT administrator, he or she would be unable to support the Linux and BSD systems until they get migrated to Windows 2000?

Stuart: No... err, YES. It is easier, but... they just wouldn't understand!! There is a lot you have to know!! It's not just all point and click and all that kiddie stuff!!! It's really hard, you have to be able to compile kernels and edit conf files!! They couldn't do what I do!!!

HR: OK, Stuart, I can understand your anxiety. We'll move away from that subject. Now, is there any possibility that you see for us to use your skills in another position? For instance, would you be interested in earning your MCSE to become a junior administrator when we roll out the new Windows 2000 servers?


HR: Well, that tells us just about everything we need to know. Stuart, your input is of course appreciated, and we will be taking all your comments under advisement. Your department head will be contacting you soon to let you know about any change in your employment status. Thank you for your time.

Stuart: BYE. <slams door>

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A Conversation with Human Resources

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