Friday, June 14, 2013

Do we hate our users?

As part of my job, I get to deal with all sorts of oddball systems and setups. Whether this is something we've inherited through acquisition, trying to resurrect or repair some antique legacy system, or needing to make some strange application nobody has ever heard of, it tends to veer in my direction.

As a result, I've had the misfortune to use and fix a wide variety of systems and applications, obviously all built by someone else.

Based on this, I can only come to one conclusion: most Unix Adminstrators hate their users, and do everything they can to make their lives miserable.

That's a pretty grim statement, and I'm hoping that most of the people reading here won't fall into that category. But here's just one example today:

I have to migrate an application, so was given a login to the system so I could check it out. What interactive shell do I get? They've given me, and most users by the looks of it, /bin/sh, on a Solaris 8 box.

Sheesh. I've been using an interactive shell that supports command line recall and editing, not to mention completion and spell-checking, since the 1980s. There is absolutely no excuse in the 21st century not to give users a decent shell. If it's not deliberate hatred of your users, then it's either laziness or incompetence.

It goes beyond that, of course. There's no excuse not to provide users with a properly configured environment, install the tools they need to do their job, and provide enough disk space to store their data. (OK. Here's another example: how many storage shops still allocate itty-bitty storage measured in gigabytes?) Yet I see too many systems set up in such a way that it's completely painful to use.

Worse, users (and developers) assume that the systems are intrinsically rubbish and the IT department incompetent. OK, the second part might be true. But that's one reason they go off and try to provide resources for themselves.

As I said earlier, I'm preaching to the converted, right?