Reality by Observation

Aging Sysadmin Realizations

I’m working as professional Mac OS X sysadmin. I’ve been doing this for over 15 years now. I’ve also been self-employed for the better part of that time. I recently realized, since humans are customary animals, my tool park is quite aged by now.

Mac OS X is a special beast and it often needs special tools to keep it tamed. That goes for the occasional GUI tool just as much as for the command line. The Terminal stuff is what I’m referring to here.

I’m quite happy with using vim as my primary editor, rsync for all my local and remote file transfer needs, of course ssh for remote shell access and git for version control.

On the other hand, I’m (still) using these on a regular basis…

  • /bin/sh
  • /bin/csh
  • /bin/bash
  • /usr/bin/screen
  • /usr/bin/tar
  • /usr/bin/gzip
  • /usr/bin/bzip2
  • /usr/bin/grep

So this is where I see the most potential for improvement of my routine work. So my plan for this year is to replace most uses of these with more modern equivalents wherever possible.

For my primary shell I intend to switch to zsh. I’m looking to replace my terminal multiplexer with tmux. Some of my higher compression needs are probably done more efficiently with p7zip or pbzip2. I’m afraid that there is nothing to replace tar, also I’m not really sure if there is an actual benefit in trying to do so.

Suggestions for viable tools I should not be missing in command line administration on Mac OS X are welcome, of course.