If you read this blog regulary, you probably know that I work as a sysadmin at the ETH Zürich.

I decided to think about all the services I provide and to document them very well, so that anybody else with some technical background could redo, what I did.


For most jobs I've had, it was always one aim to make myself redundant, because this proves that I did a good job.

Secondly this gives me a good chance to review my infrastructure and verify that every services can be brought up again very fast and with a minimal amount of time spent from my side.

Step one: The console

Probably the most important device in a sysadmins life is the own machine. All the cool tools I've found, scripted or documentation boundled together took me years of time.

Sure, most of the stuff is also mirrored to my brain, but definitely not perfect, nor very easy to share with others.

Thus if I had to restart my job as a sysadmin, the first steps I would take, are the following:

  • Get a machine (if it's a notebook, desktop, mobile phone doesn't matter)
  • Setup with an OS
  • Copy existing data to my home folder
  • Setup company specific details

Now I would be ready to start working. But from my experiences, I would add two more things before beginning to work:

  • Setting up regular backup
  • Get a second, mostly identical machine

I guess the reasons for having a backup is clear for every sysadmin reading this. The reason for the second device may not be clear for everybody:

If my console dies (and hardware does that pretty often), I'm unable to work until I setup a new machine. Thus the first security to create in my job as a sysadmin, is to ensure I can work and resume working after a damage as soon as possible.

Upcoming posts

This post is the start of a small series containing all the steps needed to the current infrastructure I maintain in the Systems Group. Upcoming posts will be both tagged with eth and sysadmin.