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Sysadmins - What's in Your MOTD? 176

permaculture asks: "This is a 'knowledge management' issue, on a University network. For many years we've had a network 'Message of the Day' that appears when any network user logs in. MOTD lists planned service outages for maintenance, progress on current issues, upcoming holidays, and other items that affect network users. Recently, this has been replaced by a page that announces general University business such as Open weeks, upcoming awards etc. There's a link on the page to the network MOTD that used to greet every user immediately after login. Does your network have a 'Message of the Day' that appears at login? Is it a Corporate business page, entirely related to network services, or something else entirely?"
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Sysadmins - What's in Your MOTD?

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  • by grub ( 11606 ) <slashdot@grub.net> on Friday April 21, 2006 @03:56PM (#15177031) Homepage Journal


    I was just thinking of upgrading mine. It currently reads:
    [grub@shrubbery grub]$ cat /etc/motd

    "Ask Slashdot" has reached a new low!

    [grub@shrubbery grub]$


  • Attention Cluster users... Node90, node104, and node243 are down for maintainance/repair. Please update pbs and lammpi configurations to reflect the reduction of 12 processors. Thank you.
  • [ben@bees ~]$ ls -l /etc/motd
    -rw-r--r-- 1 root root 138 Jul 28 2000 /etc/motd
  • ... the output of fortune run by root in a nightly cron job. :-)
    • by plover ( 150551 ) * on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:50PM (#15177523) Homepage Journal
      One day one of the guys left his terminal logged in as root. I edited it from a call to fortune to instead be:
      echo He who forgets the past is doomed to repeat it.

      Of course, once he found out who did it, he changed my the folder on my user account from /usr/~john to /dev/floppy until I went begging his forgiveness. I didn't do it again.

      • by dknj ( 441802 )
        at my last job, i allowed consultants to fuck with each other if they left their machines open for abuse (i.e. leave a root window open or an administrator account unlocked on their computer). one consultant set his root password to abc123, another consultant found out and started abusing his machine. the hacked consultant came crying to me for justice and i threatened to fire him if he didn't find and fix his security flaws. since then he has become a bit more security-minded.
  • Wow. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    This is definitely a topic that merits serious discussion.
    I use fortune.
    • by billstewart ( 78916 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @06:25PM (#15178166) Journal
      Sorry for the clunky title, but that's what I could fit in a Subject Line box.

      Historically there were two common contents for motd - fortune, and a note from the administrator saying that the file system was almost full so please clean up your files, and this applied to just about any multi-user server with just about any operating system. Moore's Law has changed this for most systems I've dealt with - disk capacities have been growing rapidly and prices dropping rapidly, and disk drives really are no longer running 99% full except for individuals' PCs that are full of MP3s or videos. Sometimes you'll see messages like that from MS Exchange Mail Server operators who are running shared mailbox servers on expensive fast disks, but otherwise the disk capacity most places finally outpaces user demand.

      Unfortunately, bureaucrats acting as amateur lawyers have typically replaced that message with some badly written threatening legalese drivel that has no clue about what the laws actually say; they'd be just as well off with a message that said "The Wizard says: Go away and come back tomorrow!"

  • by apenzott ( 821513 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:04PM (#15177108)
    Events on calendar are closer than they appear.
  • I think the last administrator to touch MOTD set that - it was a really original idea at the time!
  • It's a bit scary, but just this day our MOTD got changed to "We are the Borg. Resistance is futile.". :-/
  • A quote (Score:3, Interesting)

    by daveewart ( 66895 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:10PM (#15177155)
    Our network announcements and other notices are elsewhere, so I put a Quote Of The Day in our MOTD.
  • by ZiZ ( 564727 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:14PM (#15177203) Homepage
    DoublePlusBSD 0.0.0 (BIGBROTHER) #1: Wed Feb 29 04:20:00 GMT 1984

          not entirely working in your best interests
                                -- since 1984 --

    Access to and use of this server is restricted to those
    activities expressly permitted by the system administion
    staff.  If you're not sure if it's allowed, DON'T DO IT.
    • Wikipedia has a page on Messages of the Day [wikipedia.org] which is surprisingly short. And their pag mainly serves to disambiguate motd proper from a minor animie meme about repetative antagonists.

      Oddly enough, motd.org [motd.org] is actually a site advertising what amounts to shell access. They appear to be a month late with delivery.

      Notice To Users

      This computer system is the private property of user $FOO. It is for authorized use only. Users (authorized or unauthorized) have no explicit or implicit e
  • by Gothmolly ( 148874 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:15PM (#15177204)
    And if they do read, they don't care. If you tell them that Friday at 3pm, the a server is going down, they'll ignore it, and call you at 3:01 screaming that they are kicked off.

    People don't care about your silly technical problems, they've learned that screaming loudly works, as it does. They don't care that you had to reboot the mail server because Exchange died again, goddammit, they have important email to send, what are you, incompetent?

    And, your boss will kiss their ass and make excuses for your failures, and discuss grand schemes to Make Sure It Doesn't Happen Again.

    Yes, I work at $LARGE_US_BANK, and this sort of thing does happen. Technologists are only ever the reason that people can't get work done, we're never seen as enablers.

    Why do you think the BastardOperatorFromHell is such a powerful meme?
    • I think the idea is that things like mail really *should* work all the time.

      Sadly that doesn't seem to be the way Exchange is designed to work.
      • Ironically, the last time my boss had problems with Exchange was the day he decided to hire someone to migrate all the services the company cared about to Linux. So in a way using Exchange did lead to a more stable mail system. Yeah for me!
      • There are ways to make mail work even if exchange doesn't. The easiest way is to drop a caching mail server running sendmail/exim/postfix/qmail/carrier pigeon in front of it using the exchange server as a smart host. This way when exchange blows up, the messages are cached and not lost forever.

        If you can't have at least one of your MXes accept mail and deliver it to the correct mailbox at some point in time, you should not be an admin.
        • Oh mail are seldom lost, that's not the problem.

          The problem is that if I'm typing a mail in Outlook and suddenly it can't access the server any more (network congestion probably) then it panics. When it panics it freeses the mail app and throws up an alert message ("Can't access server.") Naturally since it's using Word to edit the mails that means any other Word documents I'm reading also freeze.

          And that, inevitably, leads to a stream of curses from my mouth. (I don't call and blame the IT people though, i
          • typing a mail in Outlook and suddenly it can't access the server any more (network congestion probably) then it panics
            Outlook not so good.
          • The problem is that if I'm typing a mail in Outlook and suddenly it can't access the server any more (network congestion probably) then it panics.

            Microsoft "fixed" this problem in Outlook XP/2003... ...Instead of freezing, it throws up a balloon that says "Outlook is requesting data." Which is just useless enough to make a user call. "Hey, what the hell does 'Outlook is requesting data' mean?"

            Thanks, Bill. Glad we put our eggs in your wicker basket...

        • I stopped reading after "sendmail"
    • Its not the bank with the horsies and the stagecoach, is it? ;-) I may or may not at one time worked there and noticed the same thing.

      But to be fair, the helpdesk consisted of idiots that didn't know the first thing about the systems they were supporting, as opposed to the admins that really know what the hell is going on. I had a problem with our sales software one day (erm, well I had problems with it regularly, but thats another matter). I called the helpdesk and explained that such-and-such-sales-sof
    • If you tell them that Friday at 3pm, the a server is going down, they'll ignore it, and call you at 3:01 screaming that they are kicked off.

      Maybe they were just annoyed that you chose to kick everyone off the server during trading hours, potentially costing the bank tens of millions of dollars.

  • >cat /etc/motd
    Benden Weyr: Now with 200% more Space Elf-related program activity!
  • I've found that inspiring and thought-provoking quotes are very useful. We use them on our systems. One place that's good for information is Words of Wisdom [wisdomtoday.com]. They also have a daily mailout of high-quality quotes.
    • What an annoying site! You inflict that sort of thing on your users, and call it useful?

      May the gods of Blue Mountain send you online greeting cards until you've learned the error of your ways!

      • No no, it makes perfect sense! Someone who thinks you can be enlightened by countless quotes taken completely out of context is surely not someone who can think coherently enough to make a decent website.
        • The site is about the content, not the design I imagine. I didn't do it, so what do I know, but the quotes are good, and they're not the sort of ones that have a different intention when excised out of context.

          Anyway, the site is crap. But the daily mailing they do is what I'm really talking about. As I understand it, the site is just a tiny subset of the daily quotes that are mailed.
  • Notice (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eht ( 8912 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:17PM (#15177225)
    Notice

    This is a Department of Defense computer system.
    This computer system, including all related equipment, networks, and network devices (specifically Internet access), are provided only for authorized U.S. government use.

    DoD Computer systems may be monitored for all lawful purposes, including to ensure that their use is authorized, for management of the system, to facilitate protection against unauthorized access, and to verify security procedures, servivability, and operational security. Monitoring includes active attacks by authorized DoD entities to test or verify the security of this system. During monitoring, information may be examined, recorded, copied, and used for authorized purposes. All information, including personal information, placed on or sent over this system may be monitored. There is no expectation of privacy in any information transmitted in or through this system.

    Use of this DoD computer system, authorized or unauthorized, constitutes consent to monitoring of this system. Unauthorized use may be subject to criminal prosecution. Evidence collected during monitoring may be used for administrative, criminal, or other adverse action. Use of this system constitutes consent to monitoring for these purposes.
    • Out of curiosity, do you know if there's any law that prevents you from putting that notice on any random system outside of the DoD? That would be a great motd for a "don't touch me" laptop.
    • Re:Notice (Score:2, Funny)

      by Tsunayoshi ( 789351 )
      Dude, I am reporting your Slashdot ID to DISA since you obviously hacked my server and stole my MOTD.

      <disclaimer>I am a DOD sysadmin</disclaimer>
    • Re:Notice (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Kesch ( 943326 )
      Heh, I have something similar on this comp:

      (There is a line of stars here, but the Lameness Filter won't accept it)
      NOTICE TO USERS

      This is a Federal computer system and is the property of the United
      States Government. It is for authorized use only. Users (authorized or
      unauthorized) have no explicit or implicit expectation of priv
    • This U.S. Government resource is for authorized use only.
      If not authorized to access this resource, disconnect now.
      Unauthorized use of, or access to, this resource may
      subject you to disciplinary action or criminal prosecution.
      By accessing and using this resource, you are consenting to
      monitoring, keystroke recording, or auditing.

      or

      U.S. Government Public Information Exchange Resource
      You have accessed a U.S. Government Resource.
      This site is intended to be used by the public for information exchange.
      Any attempt

    • Shouldn't that be in /etc/issue, not in /etc/motd?
  • ...otherwise people bellyache mightily. I put just the most critical announcements and a url to a more general info page.
  • Sarbox Bites (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Goyuix ( 698012 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:20PM (#15177258) Homepage

    Many of us can't screw with the MOTD because of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act [wikipedia.org], and are stuck with some legal notice that is it is a private system, you need access, blah blah...

    I do plan to watch this thread, hoping for some gems to pop-out though for my private systems :)

    • Re:Sarbox Bites (Score:5, Informative)

      by Fallen Kell ( 165468 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:29PM (#15177344)
      You do know that is what the /etc/issue and /etc/issue.net files are for don't you? You can even have them referenced in ssh connections as well if you modify your pam config files.
  • Mwahahaha! Who wants to "log on" to my system now? Just don't ask me to patch any security holes...
  • I can not remember off the top of my head what we have as ours, something about unauthorized use, etc..

    I do however remember when a user called an asked us why it said "purple monkey diswasher" instead of the normal legal lingo. Turns out her 'new' pc had been in used in our test evironment, and someone forgot to switch it over before putting it on her desk.
  • It's a lively file. We get tons of flames and trolls. Randomly, we get a genuine question and, more often than not, the question gets answered. Most of the users try to play nice and not overwrite each other. I'm not sure what the record is, but we got our motd to get over 1000+ lines. It gives me a warm fuzzy to see all that scrolling text.
  • FreeBSD 6.0-RELEASE (GENERIC) #0: Thu Nov 3 09:36:13 UTC 2005

    Welcome to FreeBSD!

    Before seeking technical support, please use the following resources:

    o Security advisories and updated errata information for all releases are
    at http://www.freebsd.org/releases/ [freebsd.org] - always consult the ERRATA section
    for your release first as it's updated frequently.

    o The Handbook and FAQ documents are at http://www.freebsd.org/ [freebsd.org] and,
    along with the mailing lists, ca
  • by __aaxwdb6741 ( 884633 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @04:30PM (#15177353) Journal
    Rule #1: Do not speak about dienub
    Rule #2: Do not speak about dienub
    Rule #3: Whatever it was in that cool movie
    Rule #4: If I dislike your behaviour on this server, I will purge your
                    account, and publish your entire home directory in a public IRC
                    channel.
                    This includes, nonexclusively, sending global messages, using retarded
                    exploits (Both against this and other servers), ban evasion, etc.

    Too many faulty login attempts will get you banned by DenyHosts. Generate a
    fucking keypair and use it for authentication. Passwords are insecure.

    Sincerely,
    Your friendly BOFH.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Boss's work Credit Card info -- Doubles as an IDS
    Company gossip
    Ascii porn
    random line from salaries.xls
    latest /. headline
    grep $bossip /var/log/squid/access.log | tail -n 5

  • $ cat /etc/motd
    Welcome to Darwin!
  • Mine says:

    Welcome to Darwin!
  • I'm not sure if the MOTD is a terribly useful place to put such messages these days. Most everyone's going to be using graphical workstations (either Unix or Windows) which won't show the MOTD on log. For mail they'll be using IMAP/POP/Webmail clients and, again, missing the message.

    I'd think that, at most schools, bulk email would be the most effective method of communicating with students. The downside to this is that you manage to create a massive ammount of extra data to deal with.
    • Maybe you do, but many of us don't log into a GUI. Besides, I admin tons of servers, NONE of which have X or any GUI stuff installed.

      Granted I use a GUI on my workstation, I spend 99% of my time in terminals.

  • mandated by the Audit and IT Risk Management Departments.
  • MOTD (Score:5, Funny)

    by Ryan Amos ( 16972 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @05:24PM (#15177787)
    All your bash are belong to us.
  • [caveman@marvin caveman]$ ls -l /etc/motd
    crw-r--r-- 1 root root 1, 9 Apr 21 2006 /etc/motd

    That should stop the buggers logging in.
  • perl -e 'print(ucfirst(`hostname -s`));' | figlet -f chunky > /etc/motd
  • Beware of the Leopard
  • --- Are You Authorized To Use This System? ---
    ------ Probably Not! So Get Off My Box! ------
  • for a while i had a warning to the users that disk space was critically low and that they should delete any files they weren't using. but apparently all those gigs of mp3's were very important, and i was the only one who ever deleted anything. so i got a new disk for the system and removed the motd :-(

    i expect it was pretty annoying. it was even RED ALL CAPITALS and i had a similar message in /etc/issue.net that was printed with every ssh, sftp, and ftp login.

    what i learned was: users do not pay attenti

  • who are the diskhogs (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Aaton ( 216314 ) * <.ten.stlov032. .ta. .todhsals.> on Friday April 21, 2006 @07:58PM (#15178552) Homepage Journal
    If you don't already have quotas you might run into some users eating more then there fair share of disk space. Run something like this nightly from cron job and place the output in /etc/motd. Your biggest diskhogs will be known to everyone that logs in.
    #!/bin/bash
    # Usage: diskhog [dir] [count]
    # If nothing given defaults to /home and 10

    HOMES=${1:-/home}
    COUNT=${2:-10}
    SMALLDIV= "-----"
    IGNORELIST="proc"

    if [ ! -d $HOMES ] ; then
    echo "$HOMES needs to be a directory. Use the full path"
    exit
    fi

    cd $HOMES

    echo "`date +%D` Disk Hogs: $HOMES"
    echo "$SMALLDIV";
    du -ks `ls -l | egrep -ie "^d" |egrep -iv $IGNORELIST | awk '{print $9}'` | sort -rn | head -$COUNT;
    echo "$SMALLDIV";
    May not be the best method but works under Linux. You might need to change the awk number if your ls doesn't output like mine.
  • ~ # cat /etc/motd

    Our Father, who 0wnz heaven, j00 r0ck! May all 0ur base someday be belong
    to you! May j00 0wn earth just like j00 0wn heaven. Give us this day our
    warez, mp3z, and pr0n through a phat pipe. And cut us some slack when we
    act like n00b lamerz, just as we teach n00bz when they act lame on us.
    Please don't give us root access on some poor d00d'z box when we're too
    pissed off to think about what's right and wrong, and if you could keep
    the f3i off our backs, we'd appreciate it. For j00 0wn r00t on all
  • by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Friday April 21, 2006 @09:45PM (#15178904) Homepage
    It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.
  • The company requires me to put a big ugly disclaimer in the motd. So, immediately afterwards I add the output of `fortune disclaimer`, which was my first contribution to Debian.
  • by Kronovohr ( 145646 ) <kronovohr@@@gmail...com> on Saturday April 22, 2006 @02:05AM (#15179492)
    This was what mine was before I upgraded:

    Dis beez my box.
    It don' be real fast.
    But if you fuck wit it,
    I be kickin' yo ass.
            -- Management
  • I had a number of quotation books, as well as some poetry books (haiku works well), and spent a few minutes each week picking out fun, interesting or (carefully ) apropos quotations.

    It didn't take much time, it was fun, and it gave the message a bit of a personal touch. Also, if I needed to announce something, I could be sure that people would be looking to see what the message was. YMMV, not every place has a style that accomdates whimsy. As they say in Japan: "The nail that sticks up gets hammered dow
  • If you shouldn't be here, fuck off. Thats on my home machine, webserver has some legal crap (monitoring, etc), and my dev machine says 'Welcome to the fone-me.com SVN server'

Diplomacy is the art of saying "nice doggy" until you can find a rock.

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