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What Can System Administrators Learn from Programmers?

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Although we often hear about program bugs and techniques to get rid of them, we seldom see a similar focus in the field of system administration. LinuxPlanet asked Diomidis Spinellis, the author of the book Code Quality: The Open Source Perspective, for tips on what system administrators can learn from programmers.

LinuxPlanet: How would you judge the quality of a system's setup?

Surprisingly, I would use the same attributes as those I employ for describing the quality of a software artifact: functionality, reliability, usability, efficiency, maintainability, and portability. I would ask questions like the following. What services does the system offer to its users? Has the system been setup in a way that it can run uninterrupted for months? How easy is it to manage its services, or to restore a file from a backup? Is there any waste in the utilization of the CPUs, the main memory, or the disk storage? How difficult would it be to upgrade the operating system or the installed applications? How difficult would it be to move the services to a different platform?

LP: So what can system administrators learn from programmers?

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