March 2015 Meeting Recap

Chris "Mac" McInery prepares to give his talk on Go

Chris “Mac” McInery prepares to give his talk on Go

On the evening of March 26, 2015, a handful of local system administrators gathered at the Sorrento Valley offices of Sony Computer Entertainment as Chris “Mac” McEniry showed off the Go language and tool chain.

Go is targeted at system programming and, with its runtime available for numerous platforms (including Plan 9!), it is well suited for the task.

Mac took us on a quick tour of the Go language, explaining its keywords, control structures, and types. He even delved into that special place we refer to as the Live Demo.

The talk was a condensed version of a tutorial that Mac has given at, among other places, OSCON and Cascadia IT.

An incomplete list of resources shared at the end of the presentation include,

Next Meeting

The topic and the venue for our next meeting, scheduled for Thursday, April 23, 2015, are still up in the air. Whatever we do, be it a presentation or a social gathering, is sure to be fun and interesting. So please keep an eye on the Meetup event and RSVP (on Meetup, on the mail list, or in the IRC channel) if you can join us.

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February 2015 Meeting Recap

On the evening of February 26, 2015, a handful of local system administrators gathered at the Sorrento Valley offices of Sony Computer Entertainment to hear about best practices in configuration management and to discuss what went down at the 13th annual Southern California Linux Expo.

To get things started, N.J. Thomas presented a list of best practices he has compiled around configuration management. The list was generic, applying equally well to all of the available configuration management systems currently popular with DevOps- and SysAdmin-types. Thomas has been kind enough to provide the slides he used for his presentation.

Configuration Management & Best Practices

Summarized here, those practices are,

  1. Use Configuration Management
  2. Use Version Control
  3. Use A Validation Testing Suite
  4. Use A Code Review Tool
  5. Use your CM’s Templating Facilties
  6. Use Your CM for Provisioning
  7. Use Your CM for Automated Monitoring
  8. Use Your CM for DevOps

For more details about this list, see the linked presentation. If you’d like to start a discussion about them, please leave a comment or send mail to the list.

Potential Meeting Topics

Following the presentation and discussion, the group compiled a list of topics that they would like to hear about at a future meeting. This list consisted of, but is not limited to,

  • Software customization
  • Firewalld
  • Systemd
  • Logging & monitoring
  • Vendor success stories
  • Virtual machine bake-off
  • IaaS bake-off
  • OpenStack (beyond Nova)
  • Reports from the field (data center setup, WAN configuration, etc.)

If you have other suggestions or are interested in talking about something yourself, leave a comment or send mail to the list.

Next Meeting

On Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 6:00 P.M., we will meet again at the SCEA offices. Chris “Mac” McEniry will give us a taste of what the Go programming language looks and feels like. Keep an eye on the Meetup page for any updates, and please remember to RSVP (on the Meetup page, on the list, or in the IRC channel) so we know to expect you.

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June 2014 Meeting Recap

On June 26, two dozen tech enthusiasts from around the greater San Diego area turned out in the Websense Atrium for dinner, discussion, and a couple of presentations. Pizza was provided by Alex Wenz of TechTalent, who wanted to let everyone know that his company is actively seeking Technical Subject Matter Experts to assist in their talent recruitment.

How many system administrators does it take to prepare for a presentation?

How many system administrators does it take to prepare for a presentation?

With everyone sated on food, Liam Slusser took the stage to talk about Hadoop, what it is and how he uses it. Liam has been working on large systems for 20 years, with work at Level3 Communications and SAIC. Currently he is a Systems Engineer at Slacker Radio working on their big data projects.

The audience pays close attention to Liam's presentation

The audience pays close attention to Liam’s presentation

Before diving into Hadoop, Liam talked about the history of big data, what it is, what it’s not, and where it’s going. From there, he explained Hadoop as a framework for working with big data. Some of the tools available for the Hadoop framework are HDFS, MapReduce, Apache Pig, Hive, Impala, and HBase. Liam demonstrated several of the tools for the audience.

At Slacker Radio, Liam works with Hadoop, developing Piestack and Slacker Logger.

Following the Hadoop presentation, Jeff Makey, of the San Diego Supercomputer Center, gave a quick talk on the configuration of encryption algorithms. Jeff has audited his own servers and vetted many of the encryption algorithms available to them, and has selected eight algorithms to use. He has begun the process of updating the configuration of his various servers to accept only those eight. This prompted a good discussion about encryption algorithms and Jeff would like to document his results somewhere on the web—perhaps Wikipedia—for the world to benefit.

Jeff talks about cryptographic algorithms while Liam watches on

Jeff talks about cryptographic algorithms while Liam watches on

Unfortunately, this was our last meeting in the Websense Atrium. We are actively looking for a venue for future meetings. Suggestions are welcome, please leave them in the comments or get in touch with us on the mail list.

While nothing is lined up yet for our July meeting, we are excited to have a presentation about Docker for our August meeting. Keep an eye on our Meetup Group for updates.

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May 2014 Meeting Recap

Members of the San Diego chapter of the League of Professional System Administrators took to the Atrium at Websense in Sorrento Valley for the May meeting and presentation. Pizza from BJ’s Restaurant and Brewhouse was provided by Bert Shure of Advanced System Group. During the dinner break, there was some discussion about the optimal queuing method for pizza. Very important stuff, Pizza Queuing Theory.

Peter Ashford presented a talk on ZFS Performance Tuning. This was a deep dive into the ZFS internals and not for the faint of heart. Many attendees are already running ZFS in production, still others were completely new to the topic. That’s okay, because everyone was able to take something useful away from the presentation. Based on the lively discussion at the end, the presentation was well received by those in attendance.

Peter has made his presentation materials available online.

Our next meeting is scheduled, as always, for the fourth Thursday of the month. Specifically, June 26, 2014, at 6:00 PM. As of this writing, the location and presentation topic are up in the air. If anyone would like to suggest something for either, please feel free to leave a comment.

Until then, please keep in touch, or make suggestions, on our mailing list or in #lopsa-sd on the Freenode IRC network.

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April 2014 Meeting Recap

Thanks to Brad Beyenhof and Websense for hosting our April meeting.

A special thanks and a shout-out to Trace3 for sponsoring the delicious barbecue chicken and ribs.

Presentation: Getting Started with Windows PowerShell: A Practical How-To

Ben Peterson was quite brave, presenting a Windows topic to a room populated mostly with Unix and Linux administrators. In his own words,

Windows PowerShell is becoming a necessary part of Windows Systems Administration. It’s required to manage newer versions of SharePoint and Exchange, and is increasingly recommended to manage aspects of desktop and server administration. It is Microsoft’s answer to the power and versatility of the Linux/Unix command line interface.

Join us if you have a basic understanding of using a command line–maybe you’ve worked with a batch file before, have stumbled through a `.vbs` script or are an avid bash user. You will be led through everything you need to get started with PowerShell.

I believe I speak for everyone when I write that the presentation was well-received. PowerShell incorporates some very cool ideas, being less just another shell and more a way to easily hook into the Windows object system itself.

Ben covered,

  • How to install PowerShell and its prerequisites.
  • “Hello World”–style examples.
  • Reading and manipulating information about processes and directories.
  • How everything in PowerShell is an object and what that means for programming.
  • How to define your own objects with properties and methods.
  • Examples of sourcing your own libraries of useful stuff.

The idea that everything in PowerShell is an object is very powerful. In Linux, commands write free-form text (or arbitrary data) to standard output and standard error. While PowerShell, by default, will write text for human consumption, if output is piped to another command, objects are sent through the pipeline. All of the properties and methods of the objects are available to the receiver. No fragile text parsing required! It’s a far cry from what those of us who script in KornShell, Bash, or Zsh have to put up with.

Ben has provided his presentation materials, sample scripts, and PowerShell installation files.

Next meeting: ZFS Tuning

When: Thursday, May 22, 2014 at 6:00 PM

Where: Websense Atrium (10240 Sorrento Valley Road, San Diego, CA)

One of our own, Peter Ashford, will provide a very in-depth look at performance tuning for ZFS pooled storage systems. We hope to see you there!

Join the conversation or RSVP on Meetup.


Thursday, May 22, 2014, 6:00 PM

Websense Inc
10240 Sorrento Valley Road

2 SysAdmins Attending

Our local member Peter Ashford will be giving a very in-depth talk about performance tuning for ZFS pooled storage systems. We hope to see you there!

Check out this Meetup →

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March 2014 Meeting Recap

Once again, we took to the Atrium at Websense to discuss system administration on Thursday, March 27, 2014. We had our largest attendance yet, with 21 people coming to the meeting (4 were new this month).

This month our presentation topic was “Intro to Performance Analysis” by Chris “Mac” McEniry (he’s provided his slides publicly on Slideshare). He talked about a number of performance tools that some present were already familiar with, but he introduced a framework for performance analysis & troubleshooting that was new to many of us: Brendan Gregg’s USE Method: classifying performance metrics as signifying either Utilization, Saturation, or Errors. (For further details, check out Gregg’s book, to which Mac repeatedly referred during his talk.)

Next month’s meeting will be at the same bat time, same bat venue (6PM, Websense Atrium), on Thursday, April 24, 2014. Ben Peterson will be talking to us about “Getting Started with Windows PowerShell: A Practical How-To.” Here’s his synopsis:

Windows PowerShell is becoming a necessary part of Windows Systems Administration. It’s required to manage newer versions of SharePoint and Exchange, and is increasingly recommended to manage aspects of desktop and server administration. It is Microsoft’s answer to the power and versatility of the Linux/Unix command line interface.

Join us if you have a basic understanding of using a command line – maybe you’ve worked with a batch file before, have stumbled through a .vbs script or are an avid bash user. You will be led through everything you need to get started with PowerShell.

I’m looking forward to seeing some implementations of this powerful CLI and scripting language for Windows. Hope to see many more of you there!

(As always, you can find more details or RSVP to the meeting on Meetup.)

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February 2014 meeting recap

Our latest meeting fell right on the heels of the Southern California Linux Expo (SCaLE), which many of our local members had attended. Tom, Mac, and I all spent time at LOPSA’s booth in the SCaLE expo hall with Dan and Ski, touting the benefits of LOPSA and recruiting new members. It seems to have been a rousing success, with quite a few people joining our ranks.

Following the weekend conference, our San Diego chapter met on Thursday (as usual) in the offices of Websense. We also had tacos catered from Rubio’s, sponsored by Alex Wenz at TechTalent. 13 sysadmin-type folks showed up, including 6 who hadn’t been with us before, even though it was a particularly rainy evening and the venue was at the bottom of a hill (it was feared that boats might be required to attend).

I gave a talk on “Git for Sysadmins,” where I discussed git basics: frontend commands for interacting with repos and the backend data structures that those command manipulate. A good deal of discussion ensued, focusing on converting from other version control tools to git, and how we can use git to collaborate on projects with others. Here are my slides, in case you’re interested (also with my presenter notes, if you think that would be useful).

Next month’s meeting will be on Thursday, March 27, again at Websense. Chris “Mac” McEniry will be giving a talk on “Linux Performance Tools” (find more details and RSVP on our Meetup group). Here’s Mac’s synopsis:

It’s 3am and your production website is “slow”. Welcome to the wonderful
world of troubleshooting on Linux.

Here’s a whirlwind tour of the standard system tools to try to
understand what “slow” means, where the “slowness” is coming from, so
that you can ultimately see why it’s slow and how to fix it. Focus
will be on how to invoke them, reading their results accurately, and
connecting that with the subsystems that are impacted so you can
appropriately focus on what changes you need to fix it.

We hope to see you there!

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February 27, 2014: Git for Sysadmins

Brad Beyenhof is finally going to step out from behind the organizational curtain and give a presentation. He’ll be talking about “Git for Sysadmins,” describing how git is a great version-control tool for all those little scripts & text snippets you write and don’t want to lose. Additionally, he’ll draw on his experience transitioning a medium-size company to git for all development version control and talk a bit about how collaboration works when using git repositories.

This presentation will be given in the Atrium at Websense, Brad’s new employer. Please park across the bridge in the employee parking area and not in the visitor spots right next to the building. We should have food catered, but those details are still being worked out.

Websense is located at 10240 Sorrento Valley Road, San Diego, CA 92121.

Please RSVP on Meetup:

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A look back at LOPSA San Diego’s first year

As LOPSA San Diego begins its new life as a full local chapter, it is interesting to look back over the past year to see how we started and what we’ve accomplished, so far.

A local LOPSA chapter for San Diego had been discussed by some of us as far back as 2006, shortly after LOPSA itself was formed. But it wasn’t until LISA 2012, that the pieces finally began to come together. A few of us who had been around for a while, and a few who were new to LOPSA all decided that now was finally the time.

The first meeting of what has become LOPSA San Diego was held in January 2013 at Callahan’s, a local pub that would host several of LOPSA San Diego’s social gatherings throughout the year.

LOPSA San Diego became a provisional LOPSA chapter in late January, and the next few meetings were devoted to building our network of system administrators and deciding just what we want our chapter to look and feel like.

April debuted our first technical presentation.  John H. Robinson, IV, from the UCSD Libraries talked about “Reddit, the New Slashdot (or: When Dr. Seuss Goes to War)”. It was an in-the-trenches account of being accidentally DDoSed by an unexpected onslaught of Web traffic when a UCSD site suddenly became a hot topic on Reddit, and many thousands of unexpected users showed up at once. This meeting was hosted at Anonymizer, Inc. and began with a happy hour at another pub popular with the tech crowd, Karl Strauss.

Our May presentation  featured a presentation by Tom Perrine. His talk was  “IPv6: Is it ready for you? Are you ready for it?” Tom is a global IT architect at Sony Playstation, was elected the first President of LOPSA in 2005, and he co-founded our local chapter.  He also related some experiences with two IPv6 rollouts (one at his home, another in progress at work). The Chapter also talked about David Colon’s proposal for a rural Wireless ISP (WISP) in Escondido. Anonymizer was our host again, and the pre-meeting happy hour tradition was continued.

June brought a new location and a new format. Lightning talks! Five minutes of presentation followed by Q&A. Our host for June was Qualcomm.  Three lightning talks were:

  • Tom Perrine (Playstation) – Playstation DDoS attack experience
  • Jeff Makey (SDSC) – ZFS,
  • David Colon – Wireless ISPs

July found us back at Callahan’s for professional networking and tech talks.

In August Jeff Makey (SDSC) had a presentation on  OpenStack, the private cloud solution, which included a live demo to play with hands-on. Qualcomm was the host, with a pre-meeting happy hour.

September  brought a talk from Tracy Reed about “Logstash: Centralized logging with a searchable interface for system administration, security, and general troubleshooting”. He demonstrated how to set it up, scale it, and how to use it to discover things about your systems and network which you never knew before. Tracy is a Sr. Security Engineer for a large San Diego based company with a 20 year background in Linux and security.

Our October meeting was hosted by The Active Network, where Josh Penix talked about Zabbix, an open source availability and performance monitoring system.  Its flexible distributed architecture can scale to support very large environments, but it remains simple enough to be useful in environments of any size.  If you find yourself lost in the complexity of commercial monitoring products, or grafting a bunch of add-ons onto your Nagios system to get it to do what you want, Zabbix may be worth a look! Josh Penix is currently piloting Zabbix at The Active Network.

November was a social gathering, since the meeting was so close to Thanksgiving. We decided to not meet in December, as most people are too busy with the holidays to attend.

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LOPSA San Diego goes live!

The LOPSA San Diego chapter began about this time last year (Jan 2013) as a “provisional” chapter of LOPSA. We’ve been having monthly meetings for the past year with tech talks, social gatherings and discussions about what we want this chapter to be and how to best serve the local IT community.

On January 27 2014, the Board of LOPSA approved the San Diego chapter as a “regular” chapter! With our status change comes a renewed commitment to bring great IT tech talks and better social networking opportunities to the community. We’re all about the San Diego IT scene, and want to help bring the community together wherever we can.

Check back in a few weeks for the schedule of upcoming talks for this year. Also, you can follow us on Twitter at @lopsasandiego, join our mailing list here and catch up with us on Meetup.

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