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Halloween Quiz Results: Sysadmin "Specs" & How to Trick or Treat Them

We've run a quirky Halloween quiz to try to get the steam out of a busy day for sysadmins. After all, all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

Having received more than 1000 answers, we decided to make the results public as it is insightful for both sysadmins and their colleagues. Let's see what we found out.

If you haven't taken our quiz yet, you can find it here; come back to see the results and our analysis.

1. Which line annoys you most?

It's astonishing to see how “server down” and “critical problem” scored way less than “you're good with computers, right?” and “got a sec?” Sysadmins love their job but dread people that are condescending and interrupt them. So, please, next time you feel the urge to ask sysadmins if they're good with computers - don't.

After all, when you think of it, it's the same as in any other industry: “You're good with languages, right?”, “You're good with people, right?”, “You're good with numbers, right?”

We weren't expecting, however, the “what backup?” question to score so low. Isn't that a big problem, usually?!

Lesson no. 1: Don't do unto others what you don't want done unto you. [Confucius]

2. What's the scariest issue you could face in a data center?

For the winner of question no. 2, there was a close fight between fire and human error! And the winner is… *drumrolls* HUMAN ERROR! The result is surprising since, after all, fire is a natural disaster. Perhaps human error should be classified as a natural disaster too. Something as simple as tripping over cables in a data center can cause a lot of damage and is not as uncommon as you’d think. Sysadmins like to work with people who pay attention, know what they're doing, or at least ask for help before it's too late.

Another unexpected result is that security issues came in third, before no internet and no power. Sleeping support came in last, with what you would call “only 4%”. Considering the other options, however, in the battle against fire, no internet and no power, 4 percent is a lot. No Zzz for you, sorry.

Lesson no. 2: The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. [Einstein]

3. Which server OS do you prefer?

Although Windows won the gold medal with a whopping 39.6%, if we combine the results for Ubuntu, CentOS & RHEL, which are all Linux-based, Linux grabs the popularity award. Out of the Linux-based operating systems, however, Ubuntu is the number one choice. Who would've guessed? Our bet was on CentOs. As for Mac OS, it's no wonder it came in last, as not many people use this operating system for servers.

Lesson no. 3 in the words of Bill Gates: Life is not fair; get used to it.

4. What's the least dreadful activity for you?

First off, we'd like to apologize for not including maintenance as an option, but our sysadmin colleagues said it would be the undisputed winner and we wanted to have a fair fight.

Moving on to the results, we now understand why there are so many problems with backups: only 10% voted backup services as least dreadful while configuring and monitoring are clearly in their comfort zone; but is monitoring really easier than configuring? It seems so.

By the way, when was the last time you backed up? Here we let this adage speak for itself:

Lesson no. 4: Better safe than sorry.

5. Which problem can you solve easily?

Even though DNS is a complex service that tends to be hard to understand, especially for junior system administrators, DNS problems scored as the most manageable problem to solve. Perhaps we were lucky to get top sysadmins to answer our quiz!

Networking issues such as IP address conflict and wrong VLAN came in next, which is no wonder since they are common problems that experienced sysadmins have already gotten used to solving.

As expected, malware came in second to last since it is difficult to remove from servers. Hackers seem to know what they're doing and keep scaring the bejesus of our good-guy sysadmins ☹

As they are specific to Windows, WSUS problems were ditched by our Linux sysadmins respondents, so it came in last.

Lesson no. 5: The Domain Name Server (DNS) is the Achilles heel of the Web. The important thing is that it's managed responsibly. [Tim Berners-Lee]

Hopefully, this quiz brought not only smiles and costume ideas, but also some insights for sysadmins. Let's give them more recognition for their work and remember Sysadmin Day next time (hint: it's July 31).

Trick or treat, beer up or back up?

Congrats to all the mummy sysadmins out there!


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