Presentation(s), conference, nagios exchange, Project U-13, Project U-14

I've had a bunch of ideas lately. I'm inflicting them on you.

The presentation went well...I didn't get too nervous, or run too long, or start screaming at people (damn Induced Tourette's Syndrome) or anything. There were maybe 30 or so people there, and a bunch of them had questions at the end too. Nice! I was embiggened enough by the whole experience that, when the local LUG announced that they were having a newbie's night and asked for presenters to explain stuff, I volunteered. It's coming up in a few weeks; we'll see what happens.

And then I thought some more. A few days before I'd been listening to the almost-latest episode of LugRadio (nice new design!), where they were talking about GUADEC and PyCon UK. PyCon was especially interesting to hear about; the organizers had thought "Wouldn't it be cool to have a Python conference here in the UK?", so they made one.

So I thought, "It's a shame I'm not going to be able to go to LISA this year. Why don't we have our own conference here in Vancouver?" The more I thought about it, the better the idea seemed. We could have it at UBC in the summer, where I'm pretty sure there are cheap venues to be had. Start out modest — say, a day long the first time around. We could have, say, a training track and a papers track. I'm going to talk about this to some folks and see what they think.

Memo to myself: still on my list of stuff to do is to join Do it, monkey boy!

Another idea I had: a while back I exchanged secondary DNS service, c/o It's working pretty well so far, but I'm not monitoring it so it's hard for me to be sure that I can get rid of the other DNS servers I've got. ( is fine, but they don't do TXT or IPv6 records.) I'm in the process of setting up Nagios to watch my own server, but of course that doesn't tell me what things look like from the outside.

So it hit me: what about Nagios exchange? I'll watch your services if you watch mine. You wouldn't want your business depending on me, of course, but this'd be fine for the slightly anal sysadmin looking to monitor his home machines. :-) The comment link's at the end of the article; let me know if you're interested, or if you think it's a good/bad/weird idea.

The presentation also made me think about how this job has been, in many ways, a lot like the last job: implementing a lot of Things That Really Should Be Done (I hate to say "Best Practices) in a small shop. Time is tight and there's a lot to do, so I've been slowly making my way through the list:

Some of these things have been held up by my trying to remember what I did the last time. And then there's just getting up to speed on bootstrapping a Cfengine installation (say).

So what if all these things were available in one easy package? Not an appliance, since we're sysadmins — but integrated nicely into one machine, easily broken up if needed, and ready to go? Furthermore, what if that tool was a Linux distro, with all its attendant tools and security? What if that tool was easily regenerated, and itself served as a nicely annotated set of files to get the newbie up and running?

Between FAI (because if it's not Debian, you're working too hard) and cfengine, it should be easy to make a machine look like this. Have it work on a live ISO, with installation afterward with saved customizations from when you were playing around with it.

Have it be a godsend for the newbie, a timesaver for the experienced, and a lifeline for those struggling in rapidly expanding shops. Make this the distro I'd want to take to the next job like this.

I'm tentatively calling this Project U-13. We'll see how it goes.

Oh, and over here we've got Project U-14. So, you know, I've got lots of spare time.