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Linux Foundation SysAdmin Andy Grimberg Loves New Tech and Snowboarding

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This is the second profile in a series on Linux Foundation system administrators leading up to SysAdmin Day on July 25. Thank you for all of the good work you do!

Andrew Grimberg is the primary administrator for the OpenDaylight Project's infrastructure. In this Q&A he describes his typical day at work, his love for learning new technologies and for snowboarding, and his favorite sysadmin tool, Vim.

How long have you been a sys admin?

I've been doing some form of systems administration since my freshman year in college (1994) and I've been making my living as only a sys admin since 2000.

When did you start at the Linux Foundation and how did you get the job?

I started at The Linux Foundation January 2012. I managed to land the job when the Foundation was recruiting more systems administrators and I lost out on the position that Konstantin Ryabitsev (my team lead) landed. Thankfully there was a second position open at the same time that was offered to me. :)

What do you do for the Linux Foundation? What's your specialty?

I'm the primary administrator for the OpenDaylight Project's infrastructure and I do secondary administration for internal Linux Foundation systems and kernel.org. I'm a tertiary admin for any other Collaborative Projects. I specialize in making things work. ;) In all honesty, I do a lot of puppet module writing, scripting in bash and perl and a small amount in python, and have a large amount of experience managing Jenkins for continuous integration builds.

Will you describe a typical day at work for you?

Being an early bird I tend to start work somewhere around 07:30. Back when I needed to commute to my job it would usually be around 06:00 so I could avoid most traffic to Seattle or Redmond.

My days vary as to what I'm doing depending upon the projects that I have queued up at any one time. I like to start the morning off with a review of what I completed, worked on and some planning for the day/week ahead. I send this out to my team and folks that are impacted in a daily status report (think an agile / scrum stand-up but done as daily email). I picked up this habit from when I worked as the sole admin in a highly agile startup several years ago and folks around here seem to like it so I keep doing it.

Along with my status report, I'm checking over the logs of a rotating portion of the systems under my care for anything out of the ordinary as an initial start to the day. Given the amount of monitoring we have in place this is generally very boring but a decent way to wake up while drinking coffee. ;)

I then generally spend some time working through any support tickets that have come in over the night / weekend. In a lot of cases it's a matter of directing people to looking at the proper place in their build logs or doing some investigation into strange problems that have shown up with build jobs. Other times it's more complex or it ends up initiating a longer running project.

That's mostly how my mornings go. My afternoons are pretty much dedicated to working on projects such as building out more build infrastructure for OpenDaylight, planning software upgrades and testing for the upgrades or the projects I'm working on.

Of course, I intersperse more quick ticket work into my afternoons to help keep our queue small if needed.

What's your favorite part of the job/ thing to do and why?

My favorite part of the job would definitely be getting to play with new technologies. For instance, I hadn't had an opportunity to work with OpenStack before one of the OpenDaylight projects needed to do testing against it for some integration between the projects. I also, really enjoy architecting systems that interoperate well and improve the lives of my customers.

What is your favorite sysadmin tool and how do you use it?

My favorite tool? Definitely vim. Since > 90% of everything I need to do involves modifying text files in some fashion having a much loved text editor is rather essential. I considered long ago if I should learn emacs and realized that since pretty much any system I was ever likely to administer would have vim or just vi it was the editor for me to learn and learn well.

My second favorite tool is probably puppet. It allows us to manage a lot of systems in a very easy-to-support way. Also, with the git hooks we have in place and the reports that are emitted by systems when their configuration changes all of the admins are well informed of changes that are happening and also have a good bit of documentation in place for actual system configurations.

What's your favorite story about working at the Linux Foundation?

So many to choose from. Hmm... the one that stands out the most for me would be the semi-regular requests I get for help from our OpenDaylight customers that are setting up third-party labs for testing or internal infrastructure for internal projects and want want to mirror what we're doing with OpenDaylight. A lot of folks seem to really like how we've taken the various OSS tools available and strung them together in such a reliable and highly available way.

What do you do for fun, in your spare time?

Depends a lot on the season. ;) During the winter I'm an avid snowboarder and try and get up at least once if not twice a week. During the summer I like to camp, hike and go for bike rides. No matter what time of year I like to read, mostly sci-fi and fantasy; play video games, thank you Valve for finally porting Steam natively, I was getting tired of running things through WINE; play racquetball, when I'm not too banged up from playing too hard; antagonize, I mean play with, my cats; watch anime and k-dramas; hang out with my friends and other such things.

For more in this series read:

To Linux Foundation SysAdmin Ryan Day, Elegance is the Best Tool

 

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