lonely written words—are all you’ve got”

—Virginia Shea

“communication happens when I know you know what I know”


Philosophy, Art and Science

You practice one or more of these every day in your role as a system administrator. Learn these three words and understand how they apply to your work. Mentally apply one of these labels to every task you do for the rest of your career.


It’s probably how you started your profession. You liked seeing the consistent outcome of your efforts and when the outcome didn’t match your expectations you liked finding out why.


This is when you start applying science thoughtfully. Applying an update to someone’s computer is straight forward even from the command line. That’s science. Applying the update in a way that’s unobtrusive to the user or allows the user to apply the update on his own terms is art.


While you can decide to apply software updates without user interaction or to apply updates with user involvement, your philosophy of system administration drives the experience you want the user to have. Should he be aware of the administration of the system he’s using or should he be unaware of your administration altogether?