February 10, 2016

Risk Analysis: The problem of probability

Walt Williams

An overview of traditional use of probability in quantitative models of risk analysis and a proposal or two of a better approach.
Traditionally, risk is thought to be the product of impact when multiplied by probability. While we learned in elementary school not to combine apples and oranges, somehow NIST expects us to believe that multiplying probability by impact gives you meaningful results. This presentation will look both at ways to calculate probability meaningfully, the value of doing so in risk analysis, and what the relationship with impact actually is and why it's important to understand this.

Walter Williams served as an infrastructure and security architect at firms as diverse as GTE Internetworking, State Street Corp, Teradyne, The Commerce Group and EMC. He has since moved to security management, where he'd served as at IdentityTruth, Passkey and now manages security at Lattice Engines. He is an outspoken proponent of design before build, an advocate of frameworks and standards, and has spoken at Security B-Sides on risk management as the cornerstone of a security architecture. His articles on Security and Service Oriented Architecture have appeared in the Information Security Management Handbook. He sits on the board of directors for the New England ISSA chapter and was a member of the program committee for Metricon8. He has masters degree in Anthropology from Hunter College.

MIT E-51, Room 145
7:00 - Announcements & Introductions
7:30 - Formal presentation

Future Events Past Events

March 9, 2016

How Can You Scale It If You Don't Trust It?

David Blank-Edelman

When you scale up an infrastructure it is crucial that you can trust you have the right resources in play, the right code deployed and that information can only flow in a secure manner. When you scale the organization, trust is required amongst all of the people responsible for coding, testing, deploying and managing the applications that power the business.

With all of the chatter around scaling, you would think someone would have told you the key ingredient necessary for creating and fostering the required trust. Unfortunately it is very easy to get to the end of the diving board, right on the edge of jumping into something like a hybrid cloud deployment, before you realize you need to figure this out on your own.

This talk can help. We?ll discuss some concrete ways you can engineer trust into the system (complete with examples) you are building or operating so that it works well for cloud-native and legacy applications. By the end, you?ll have a good idea of the decision/enforcement points you?ll need to consider to be able to create a system (and an organization) that can scale.

David is the Technical Evangelist at Apcera. He has spent thirty years in the systems administration/DevOps/SRE field in large multiplatform environments including Brandeis University, Cambridge Technology Group, MIT Media Laboratory and Northeastern University. He is the author of the O'Reilly Otter book (Automating System Administration with Perl) and is a frequent invited speaker/organizer for conferences in the field. David is honored to serve on the USENIX Board of Directors. He prefers to pronounce Evangelist with a hard 'g'.

April 13, 2016


May 11, 2016


Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Transactional System Administration Is Killing Us and Must be Stopped
Thomas A. Limoncelli, SRE at StackOverflow.com
Transactional system administration puts sysadmins in a bad position. When organizations replace this model with a service-centric model the company receives better service and sysadmins gain positive visibility and increase their value.

The transactional model is where customers make requests and system administrators fulfill them. It is the model of servitude. This has been the power dynamic for decades. The service-centric model is where sysadmins maintain the automation that does work rather than doing the work themselves. Another way to look at it is that the best use of human labor in an auto factory is not to build cars, but to maintain the robots that build cars.

Stack Exchange's SRE Team is making strides at minimizing transactional system administration and, instead, adopting DevOps practices that create a cooperative relationship with our users. We've adopted this as our guiding management principle and it has greatly improved how we get things done.

Tom will discuss the successes and failures of these attempts and recommend how your organization can adopt this better structure.

Tom is an internationally recognized author, speaker, and system administrator. His new book, The Practice of Cloud System Administration, launched last year. His past books include Time Management for System Administrators (O'Reilly) and The Practice of System and Network Administration (Pearson). In 2005, he received the USENIX LISA Outstanding Achievement Award. He works in New York City at Stack Exchange, home of Careers.Stackoverflow.com, and previously worked at Google and Bell Labs. His blog is http://EverythingSysadmin.com and he tweets @YesThatTom.
Wednesday, December 9, 2015
LISA Recap
All attendees of LISA 2015 are welcome to share their experiences at LISA. We will go through the program and people will discuss what they found interesting, worth taking etc. This is a great way to find out what you missed in another talk or for non-attendees to determine what they should watch on the LISA website.
Wednesday October 14, 2015
Managing cloud costs and technical requirements when every engineer is an admin or "Herding Cats in the Cloud" and hope for the future.
Dewey Sasser
How do you keep your sanity when most developers can log in to your cloud console and create/destroy/manipulate resources? How do you implement policies and procedures when you have many developers doing different things with different tooling and the lowest common manager is the CEO? Traditional methods of creating policies and procedures managed by a small operations group will not work -- these are barriers to agility and velocity which industry trends are actively attacking. Dewey will present a set of practices and tools for managing DevOps with staff responsibilities ranging from pure development to pure operations and responsibilities to manage multiple products experiencing multiple thousands of TPS.

Dewey Sasser is a distributed systems software architect who accidentally wondered into operations near the beginning of the DevOps movement. He is currently working as a Cloud Solutions Architect for a major gaming company.
Wednesday September 9, 2015
Why we can't have nice things. A tale of woe and hope for the future.
Pete Cheslock, Threat Stack
Computers are hard, and security is even harder. While you?re building a bespoke host-based intrusion detection system to monitor for advanced persistent threats, vulnerabilities are uncovered in 30-year-old core Unix programs. Even worse, the same junior level operations engineer who can (accidentally) provision thousands of systems and blow your budget away, is the same person who can make one small change to a security group which now allows all access to your back-end systems.

The cloud is making it easier than ever to provision systems to meet your infrastructure needs ? and to do so very quickly. Speed to market is a major competitive advantage that many companies are leveraging through the concept of Infrastructure as Code. Provisioning hundreds or thousands of compute instances in mere minutes is now considered an everyday activity. Everyone wants to move fast.

The long contested battlefield of remote access to production machines has only gotten uglier since the rise of The Cloud, which has obliterated the line between building the system and running the system. ?Lock out the developers? is not an acceptable policy anymore. Developers inherently build better systems when they experience running them.

Continuous Integration. Continuous Deployment. But who (or what) is continually monitoring the state of your operational security?

We'll discuss the role of security in this new *aaS landscape. We?ll talk about things to do when you have a dedicated InfoSec team, and tools you can use when you don?t. We?ll explore what it means to build in security in the same way you build in quality as part of your continuous delivery pipelines. And how you can strengthen your security posture while maintaining your ability to move quickly and deliver value to your customers.

Wednesday August 12, 2015
No Meeting - Summer Vacation
Wednesday July 8, 2015
No Meeting
Wednesday June 10, 2015
Rocket and the Application Container Specification
Mark Lamourine
The introduction of Rocket and the Application Container Specification brought the number of the Linux container alternatives to three. In the six months since that announcement, Rocket has matured quite a bit. It offers lighter weight containers, simpler image discovery and tight integration with orchestration systems like Kubernetes. In this presentation you'll learn the basics of Rocket development, usage and internals as well as the current state of the Application Container Specification and alternate implementations of the spec.

Mark Lamourine is currently working at Red Hat as a champion of the System Administrator in the development and integration of system and software services. In his 30 years in front of a keyboard his work experiences range from developing and operating ISP infrastructure services, to managing software and hardware testing labs in much smaller companies. Recently he's started writing blogs, book reviews and articles on new tech in computing. He's an (extremely minor) contributor to both the Rocket/Appc and Kubernetes projects.
Wednesday May 13, 2015
The Future of System Administration (and What You Should Do to Prepare)
Adam Moskowitz, MathWorks
System Administration is changing faster and more radically that at any time in its history. Like it or not, your job is probably going to be very different in 10 years (and maybe even in 5 years); come hear where the field is headed and what you should do if you want to stay on the leading edge of system administration. (Sneak preview of the recommendation: "stop being a sysadmin.")

Adam Moskowitz is a Senior Tools Developer at MathWorks in Natick MA; in the past he has also been a system administrator, and his current project marries those two disciplines and if it works, will make a significant change in how system administration is done. Adam has been in the field since 1978 but claims he keeps working "to keep food in his puppy's bowl" (and to support his barbecue habit).
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Compliance Double Header
Josh Boon PCIP, Walt Williams
Compliance Soup: PCI DSS Condensed
Speaker: Josh Boon PCIP

An overview of PCI DSS 3.0 requirements and definitions. In this talk I'll define types of credit card data and the storage requirements of each, the types of merchants and service providers and the reporting requirements of each, and summary of the twelve requirements of PCI compliance. A participant should be able to take away from this talk the basics of PCI and if it applies take the next steps towards compliance.

Compliance Soup: ISO, ISACA, SSAE, NIST and CSA Oh My!
Speaker: Walt Williams

A brief history of the alphabet soup that is security standards, looking at the goals and scope of each of the commonly sought certifications, applicability of each, challenges in achieving/maintaining and the bang for the buck if you will, or are they worth the time invested. The person shall be able to take away a comparative understanding of the many standards available in Information Security.
Josh Boon has worked across many verticals including higher education and ecommerce primarily as a sysadmin expanding into compliance with a focus on securing credit card data and personally identifiable information. He now works for NutraClick in the role as a senior sysadmin and internal security assessor and consults for other companies in the PCI and PII space.
Walter Williams served as an infrastructure and security architect at firms as diverse as GTE Internetworking, State Street Corp, Teradyne, The Commerce Group and EMC. He has since moved to security management, where he'd served as at IdentityTruth, Passkey and now manages security at Lattice Engines. He is an outspoken proponent of design before build, an advocate of frameworks and standards, and has spoken at Security B-Sides on risk management as the cornerstone of a security architecture. His articles on Security and Service Oriented Architecture have appeared in the Information Security Management Handbook. He sits on the board of directors for the New England ISSA chapter and was a member of the program committee for Metricon8. He has masters degree in Anthropology from Hunter College.
Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Hyper-V and Openstack
Peter Pouliot, Microsoft
OpenStack is a rapidly evolving open source cloud computing infrastructure typically thought of as a Linux centric technology. Microsoft however has been involved with the OpenStack from early on ensuring that Hyper-V, Windows and other core Microsoft technologies interoperate within the OpenStack API framework. This talk will discuss some key areas of integration between Microsoft technologies and the OpenStack architecture while additionally highlighting Microsoft's involvement in the OpenStack project Development and Continuous Integration cycles.
Peter is the OpenStack subject matter expert within Microsoft as well as the evangelist for OpenStack awareness and adoption of OpenStack Windows platforms.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Meeting cancelled due to snow
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Radical ideas from The Practice of Cloud System Administration
Tom Limoncelli
Tom will highlight some of the most radical ideas from the new book "The Practice of Cloud System Administration". The book focuses on "distributed" or "cloud" computing and brings a DevOps/SRE sensibility to the practice of system administration. Unsatisfied with books that cover either design or operations in isolation, the authors created this new reference centered around a comprehensive approach.

Some of the radical advice includes: improving uptime by using cheap unreliable hardware, why you should crashing servers at random times, and that you should make peace with outages.

(Note: Tom will not have books for sale at the talk, but he will sign books you bring, even ones he didn't write. Ebook purchasers will receive a sticker to put on their Kindle.)

Info about the book can be found at http://the-cloud-book.com

Tom Limoncelli is best know for books like Time Management for System Administrators (O'Reilly) and The Practice of System and Network Administration (Addison-Wesley). He works in New York City at Stack Exchange, home of ServerFault.com and StackOverflow.com. He tweets @YesThatTom and blogs at http://everythingsysadmin.com
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
LISA Recap
Recap of LISA 2014
Wednesday, November 12, 2014
No Meeting

This date overlaps with LISA. Meeting has been cancelled.
Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Project Atomic: Server OS and app container delivery with Docker and OSTree
Colin Walters
For many years, "traditional packaging" has been the default method for software delivery and management on Unix systems; exemplified by dpkg, RPM, and similar systems.

Project Atomic is a pattern that can be applied to a traditional distribution (for example, Fedora, CentOS, Red Hat Enterprise Linux), bringing together several upstream components: SELinux, Linux kernel containers, Docker, (RPM-)OSTree, and orchestration frameworks such as geard and Kubernetes.

This talk will explore the details of all of these technologies, with a particular focus on the RPM-OSTree side, which provides atomic upgrades and rollbacks for bare metal operating systems For example, we'll look at why /home is a symlink to /var/home on an Atomic system, and how configuration files in /etc are carried forward on upgrades in a fully atomic fashion.

Colin Walters is a Senior Software Engineer at Red Hat in the Server Experience group. He is the upstream author of OSTree, and has contributed to a variety of Free Software projects, such as Emacs, systemd, GNOME, OpenEmbedded, and both Debian and Fedora packaging.
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Trying to Outpace Log Collection with ELK
Neil Schelly
This talk will detail the adventures of centralizing log data with the ELK stack: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. We wanted to centralize logs from many very separate networks because it's a really good idea to look at logs more than you probably are. The adventures in this project include building concurrent prototypes with Logstash, Graylog2, and Splunk. There's a bit of layer 7 routing and buffering with RabbitMQ. I might get a bit DevOps-y in the description of using Chef to deploy all the systems in this project. And finally, there are some lessons learned about running distributed magical databases like ElasticSearch in Amazon AWS. tldr; Lots of stuff only breaks when it gets big enough to break.

Neil Schelly has been a sysadmin, developer, or consultant for most of the last 20 years. Currently, he's a Principle Security Administrator at Dyn, Inc in Manchester, NH. Lately, there's been more of a security, auditing, and monitoring focus to the projects he is working on.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
No Meeting - Summer Vacation
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Server Names? We don't need names where we're going!
Matthew Barr
How do you thrive in a environment where you don?t know your servers' names, or if they'll disappear at any time? How do you build servers with configuration management in this kind of environment? What do you give up? This talk will discuss how you can name your hosts to make life easier, and covers using cloudinit, autoscaling, mcollective, logstash & sensu.

Matthew Barr has been a sysadmin (professionally) for over 15 years, managing both cloud based & datacenter infrastructures. He's led the ops group at Kensho & Snap Interactive, and the US sysops group for MarkitServ. He recently finished building a production autoscaling infrastructure in AWS without knowing his hostnames. He's a co-maintainer on puppet-jenkins, and has contributed code to Puppet, logstash, and various other projects.
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Lay waste to waste
John Rouillard
This talk will cover the basic ideas and some background behind Lean and 6 Sigma (LSS), discuss their origins and then walk through some examples while introducing the tools and techniques. Plus you get to test the speaker by bringing your own problems and (hopefully) leave with some ideas on how to tackle resolving the problem.

John Rouillard has been a system administrator trying to fix practices for more decades than he cares to remember. His interest in formal problem solving techniques developed by watching solutions that didn't really solve problems but merely added more problems while allowing the original issue to generate even more failures.
Wednesday, May 14, 2014
IT Project Management
Peg Schafer
20 years ago SAGE was defining IT job skills sets for HR departments. Today (no surprise) IT departments are the heart beat of the enterprise. With burgeoning budgets and even more complex technologies management is trying to get more of a handle on their IT processes and align them with standard management methodologies. Sometimes with good results.
I will touch on TQM, ITIL, PMP & Agile practices and why some practices work and some do not. Much of it depends on the culture of the enterprise. Managing projects at large enterprises (e.g. Microsoft), higher education (e.g. Harvard) and startups is vastly different and requires a large bag of tricks. A major issue of project management is who is "The Boss"? Is it the technical lead, a non-technical manager or the project manager? In IT, it is often the technical leader that is the real boss, regardless of titles.
Most Project Managers come from a business background. But IT Project Managers better be able to understand the technical aspects of IT. If an IT Project Manager asks naive questions like "Do you really need fail over for DNS?" They will be abused and ignored by the technical staff. Hence, many IT professionals see Project Managers as someone to avoid. Management hears "The IT department is not cooperating" from the Project Management staff.
I will share my horror stories, but actually explain how Good IT Project Management can help your IT department be more successful.
Peg is the Senior Technical Project Manager for Starfish Storage.
Wednesday, April 9, 2014
The Practical Gamemaster: Design & Execution of IT Emergency Operations Drills
Adele Shakal
Practical IT drill design brings together emergency response and operations, business continuity, disaster recovery, and IT architecture. During this talk, you will learn key concepts in emergency operations center and incident headquarters design, methods of introducing such concepts to your organization, and a sequence of basic-to-advanced drill designs. Keeping IT folks engaged in a drill simulation can be very challenging. Become a practical gamemaster worthy of designing and executing drills on likely emergency scenarios and realistic function failures for your organization. d10s included.

Adele Shakal currently heads up project and knowledge management at Metacloud, Inc., a cloud solutions company providing on-premises private cloud based on OpenStack. In her prior work in technical project management and system administration at USC ITS, she designed IT emergency operations and the ITS Great Shakeout 2011. She has more than two decades of experience in information technology, with Bachelor of Science in geochemistry from California Institute of Technology. She has presented at CENIC, EDUCAUSE, APRU, USENIX LISA and CascadiaIT conferences.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014
"Hi, my name is" Lightning Talks
Adam Moskowitz at al.
Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Solid State Disks
Matt Simmons
Solid State Disks are a relatively new technology, but on the surface, seem to function exactly like traditional hard drives, only faster. The truth is that the underlying way they store and retrieve data are completely different - and understanding how and why can make the difference in making sure that your disks last much longer and maintain their performance.

This talk is an adaptation of a tutorial presented at LOPSA-East 2013. Because of time constraints, we'll be sticking to the most relevant and interesting parts, and you will still be able to walk away with a much better understanding of how to use SSDs in your environment, and make well-informed purchasing choices.

Matt Simmons is a 13+ year system administrator, blogger, and community organizer. He's currently serving on the Board of Directors of LOPSA, and as a program committee co-chair of LISA14. His blog can be found at http://www.standalone-sysadmin.com.
Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Fragile Ops
Patrick Cable
The role of the central IT department is changing. No longer are users happy inadequate IT organizations that create solutions that aren't fully baked out. More executives just want to "throw some cloud on it." Given the difference of user expectations between internal services and what the outside appears to offer -- can you blame them? This talk focuses on how IT lost its edge, and how IT organizations can work towards being more human-focused and ultimately regarded as business game-changers and not just a cost center.

Patrick Cable is an infrastructure system administrator at a local research institute. He's currently working on managing a network used in hardware design and verification. He also provides guidance to other internal groups about best practices in system management. Prior to his current job, he operated an IT consulting business that worked with a variety of clients - including small and large businesses, and municipalities.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Project Managers as Value Role in IT
Cathleen Bonner
Responding to "urgent/non-important" IT requests takes time away from developing initiatives, completing complex operations, and evaluating hardware or software technologies. Given this ever-present aspect of IT, many departments believe that sysadmin, service desk, network, and security areas are the obvious priorities when increasing staff. However, if project management is valued as a staff position or as a portion of present staffing roles, projects will have the high visibility and accountability they deserve, plus the resources they need in order to be Done Right.
The fundamentals of project management (sponsors, stakeholders, resources, scope, methodology) and how they can be used to drive the strategic vision of IT departments can be transformative for a department and its staff.
This talk is not a tutorial about "how to be a project manager", instead, attendees will hear about how to advocate for and develop project management within their groups, completing projects despite the seemingly endless lists of things to do.
Cathleen Bonner has worked in IT at the Broad Institute for over a decade. She began in desktop support, shifted into research computing engagement, and now manages the project and portfolio team. Cathleen's goal has been to understand how to best synchronize the tricky triad of customer engagement, IT culture, and strategic vision to produce the best IT services possible. In her non-work time, she finds fulfillment by volunteering with the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center, running, cooking and eating out, and traveling.
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
LISA Recap
Adam Moskowitz et al
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
BackupPC it's not just for desktops
John Rouillard
Six years ago I embarked on a search for a new backup system for work. This talk will start by discussing the requirements and evaluation process for the backup system. This will be followed by a tour of BackupPC and a discussion of how BackupPC is used to: backup multi TB live databases, handle off site backups, handle bandwidth limitation requirements for backing up sites scattered across the internet, how compression and file de-duplication works to improve backup capacity (fitting 52T of source data into 3.7T of backup space). The talk will close with methods used for testing the integrity of backups and restoring backups.

John Rouillard's first computer experience was on PDP 11/44 running BSD unix in 1977. After a couple of years of programming, he graduated to system administration. He has authored papers on configuration management tools, software management and real time log analysis. His current interest is improving system administration processes by incorporating best practices and standard skills from other disciplines to solve issues in system administration.
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Is the MooseFS distributed filesystem in your future?
Peter aNeutrino (LizardFS.org)
This talk will focus on features of MooseFS which make it very interesting choice for storage alternatives. MooseFS is used all over the world to store hundreds of petabytes of production data. Starting with installation and configuration the talk will move on to management of MooseFS. Then the reasons for creating the LizardFS fork of MooseFS will be presented. Finally the challenges to be solved to make the LizardFS an enterprise ready storage solution will be discussed.

Peter aNeutrino started working in Poland 20 years ago writing assembler for Demoscene. He sharpened his Linux skills working for Siemens, Google and Gemius in Poland. He has spent his last 3 years working on MooseFS. He now is building a team of developers to improve MooseFS using modern development methods. This new Open Source release is LizardFS that he hopes will change everything in today's storage market.
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
No meeting - summer vacation
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Cloud storage options and DFS
Jeff Darcy (Red Hat)
This talk will be compare some of the cloud-storage options that are out there, with a particular focus on distributed filesystems. GlusterFS and Ceph will be compared in detail. Other options including HDFS, object stores, and NoSQL document stores will also be discussed.

Jeff Darcy has been working on distributed storage since DECnet and NFS version 2 in the early 1990s. Later he was one of the original developers for MPFS while at EMC, and is currently an architect for GlusterFS at Red Hat.
Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Continuous Integration of Infrastructure
Nick Cammorato
Stability is the name of the game for systems and networks operators. It's what we expect and what our end-users expect, but it can be incredibly difficult to achieve - a constant stream of security patches, dead-end releases, broken software, broken hardware, and demands from other internal stakeholders force change. Constant, never ending change.

Complicating this is the fact that these changes are rarely isolated. A change on one system (particularly a lower-layer system like a router) can ripple through entire services. We have, in effect, an integration problem with every software update or configuration change we apply. So to solve this, we look to the software development world to see how they deal with it, and the answer is continuous testing and continuous integration.

At TERC, we're currently combining configuration management (puppet), hierarchical configs (hiera), monitoring (nagios), test software (rspec/cucumber), and a software development CI stack (jenkins/rake/vagrant) in order to address this. This talk will focus on my experiences in rolling all of this out, what the limitations of current software are, and touch on what my plans are to improve it.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Asterisk and VOIP
K.M. Peterson
The near-universal provision of voice services and their terminals (called "telephones") predates the Internet. While on some level, voice traffic via TCP/IP is just another protocol, there are challenges in making it "just work" like the traditional phones that we are all used to. There are the technical issues of the nature of the data, interfacing with the still robust telephone network, and of course the UI expectations and experience.

That means that the protocols involved - SIP and the related suite - were developed in the setting of a preexisting, mature, and complex switched network. I found that from the perspective of a systems administrator or network engineer there are complications, terminology, and conventions that aren't necessarily obvious.

This talk will provide insight into the these technologies from that perspective to allow you to grasp the protocols and the context in which they interoperate, using an example implementation of Asterisk.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Lightning Talks
Matt Simmons et al.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Mastering Human Communication Patterns for Techies
Dan Hermes
Missed human connections in the software industry account for most of our project failures. Improving communication can dramatically improve individual and team performance. Typical frustrations:
  • They just don't get it
  • They talked at you for an hour and made no sense
  • That meeting was like a construction committee for the Tower of Babel

In the same way that programming languages have interfaces and design patterns, so do human beings. Problems that appear technical in nature can usually be traced back to failed interactions between people. We'll explore:
  • The human interface between system administrators, customers, and managers
  • Key patterns of communication including negotiation and resolving miscommunication
  • Examine techniques for how to listen to and understand others
  • How to be heard and understood yourself.

Mr. Hermes, principal consultant of Lexicon Systems, has over twenty five years experience as a software management consultant, .NET architect and developer. From start-ups to blue chips, Mr. Hermes has served dozens of software companies striving to develop successful, lasting enterprise systems. He has taught software architecture and development at Northeastern University, Microsoft User Groups, and Microsoft Certification classes at corporate training facilities. Cited on National Public Radio, Forbes, and Reuters, Mr. Hermes has had articles published by Media-N and MIT Press. He has served on the board of the Institute of Management Consultants New England Chapter and is currently director of Art Technology New England(ATNE).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013
Centrify From a Sysadmin Perspective
Tony Rudié
"Centrify" is a commercial product that facilitates Unix and Linux machines joining Microsoft Active Directory and using that for authentication and directory. "directory", in this context, means the information that was traditionally culled from NIS, NIS+ or LDAP, such as automount maps. This talk will take a quick look at the problem, give an overview of what Centrify does and how it does it, and offer a few cautionary tales about implementation, based on the presenter's experience.
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
LISA Recap
Adam Moskowitz et al.
A review of the events of LISA as seen by LISA attendees. Come and share your experiences at LISA 2012.
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
No Meeting
Wednesday, November 14, 2012
Internet buffer bloat
Jim Gettys
Bufferbloat: Problem, Migitation, and Solution
VOIP and teleconferencing often perform much more poorly on today's Internet than the Internet of a decade ago, despite great gains in bandwidth. Lots of fiber, cheap memory, smart hardware, variability of wireless goodput, changes in web browser behaviour, changes in TCP implementations, and a focus on benchmarking Internet performance solely by bandwidth, and engineer's natural reluctance to drop packets have conspired to encourage papering over problems by adding buffers; each of which may introduce latency when filled.
The mistaken quest to never drop packets has destroyed interactivity under load, and often results in actual higher packet loss, as TCP's congestion avoidance algorithms have been defeated by these buffers. The lessons of the "RED manifesto" of 1997 have been forgotten or never learned by a new generation of engineers.
Bufferbloat mitigation by tuning queue length is beginning to be deployed in cable broadband systems. But solving bufferbloat requires careful queue management that must be present anywhere a queue may form. With the publication of the new CoDel AQM algorithm by Nichols and Jacobson (and inclusion in Linux 3.5) we now have the opportunity to solve rather than mitigate bufferbloat. I will also touch on fq_codel, which combines stochastic fair queuing and CoDel, and why we like the combination so much, and the remaining challenges.
Jim Gettys is at Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs, USA. Today he works on bufferbloat in all of its forms, including helping establish bufferbloat.net to serve as a rallying point in its solution.
He was the Vice President of Software at the One Laptop per Child project, one of the original developers of the X Window System, and the editor of the HTTP/1.1 specification in the IETF. In 1997 he won Bob Metcalfe's Internet Plumber of the Year award on behalf of the group who worked on HTTP/1.1.
slides (PDF, 2MB)
Wednesday, October10, 2012
The State of ZFS
Peter Baer Galvin
ZFS has taken the world by storm, and is still advancing. This talk will summarize the state of ZFS, including its availability, feature set, and recent changes.

Peter Baer Galvin is a seasoned tech writer, columnist, consultant, teacher and author. He is the CTO for systems integrator and VAR, Corporate Technologies (www.cptech.com). He's a Lecturer at Boston University and co-author of the Operating Systems Concepts textbooks. He's given talks and tutorials at USENIX conferences and other venues.
slides (PDF, 65MB)
Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Solid State Drives: Use, Performance, Caching, and More
Dan Noé, VeloBit
Solid State Drives can deliver high performance, but their prices still break the budget. SSD caching is a lower-cost method to improve application performance by taking advantage of fewer Solid State Drives to improve I/O. Dan will discuss SSD performance characteristics, best practices and risks of SSD deployment, as well as how SSD caching works and whether it can improve your performance.

Dan Noé is a Senior Software Engineer at VeloBit; previously, Dan was an engineer at IBM/Netezza,where he worked on database storage layer technology for the massively parallel Netezza Database Appliance. Dan holds a B.S. in Computer Science from University of New Hampshire, is an avid pilot and maintains Linux servers in his spare time.
slides (PDF, 1.5MB)
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Solaris Dynamic Tracing - DTrace
Jim Mauro
DTrace is a revolutionary software framework that enables unprecedented observability up and down the entire software stack. DTrace was first introduced in Solaris 10, and continues to ship with Solaris, with ports to Mac OS X and FreeBSD. Others are underway. This talk will provide an overview of the DTrace framework and key components, as well as a tour of using DTrace to measure and observe system behavior.

Jim Mauro is a Principal Software Engineer for Oracle Corporation. Jim's focus for the last several years has been systems performance, doing both internal performance-related engineering projects, as well as engaging in real customer production performance issues. Jim's most recent work involved performance and benchmarking of Oracle's ZFS Storage Appliance. Jim is the co-author of Solaris Internals (1st and 2nd Ed), Solaris Performance and Tools, and recently published DTrace.
slides (PDF, 1.2MB)
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Keeping up with Systems Management across Windows, Linux and Mac platforms.
Harold Moore
How do you keep all of your systems (Windows, Mac, Linux)? Do you find yourself having to use multiple toolsets? Enterprises keep adding new types of system s (a resurgence in the Mac community and new Linux applications being developed every day) that only increase the demands on the systems administration team. On top of that, there are growing regulatory and compliance (software licensing) demands placed on the team. How can you streamline the systems management processes (software distribution, asset management, patching, O/S deployment, compliance reporting, etc.)? The Dell Kace systems management appliance was designed to make it easy for you to manage all of your systems from one console. We'll discuss common challenges that systems administrators face today and how best to address them.

Harold Moore has worked in the systems management field for over 15 years. Harold worked at Novell from 2000-2007. He worked on the System Engineering team that was responsible for systems management and the Suse Linux/Open Enterprise Server. Harold then joined Altiris/Symantec working in systems management group supporting management of MAC, Linux and Windows. Harold Joined Dell in March 2011 and works in the Dell-Kace division. Harold has a BA from the University at Albany in Communications and Computer Science. He also hold a MS in Computer Science from Long Island University, CW Post.
Wednesday, May 9, 2012
What does a CIO do anyway?
Martin Leach
The average job life of a CIO is about 2 1/2 years, it even comes with the pleasant acronym of '*C*areer *I*s *O*ver'. The Broad Institute just hired their first CIO, and will try to justify his existence at this presentation and discussion.

Martin Leach is chief information officer at the Broad Institute He came to the Broad from Merck & Co., where he led IT for Discovery and Pre-Clinical Sciences across all the North American research sites. Over his career he has provided support and strategic vision for IT, informatics, and data-mining activities at a range of life sciences organizations. Martin received his B.Sc. in cell and molecular sciences from Anglia Polytechnic University and his Ph.D. in pharmacology from Boston University School of Medicine.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
A fresh look at SELinux and what it is complaining about.
Daniel Walsh
The Four main causes of SELinux problems.
  1. Labeling Problems
  2. SELinux has to know how you configured your processes
  3. Bug in Policy or an Application.
  4. Your machine has been compromised.

Daniel Walsh has worked in the computer security field for almost 30 years. Dan joined Red Hat in August 2001. He has led the SELinux project, concentrating on the application space and policy development. Dan helped developed sVirt, Secure Vitrualization. He also created the SELinux Sandbox, the Xguest user and the Secure Kiosk. Previously, Dan worked Netect/Bindview's HackerShield and BVControl for Unix, Vulnerability Assessment Products. Dan worked for Digital Equipment Corporation on the Athena Project along with designing and developing the AltaVista Firewall and AltaVista Tunnel (VPN) Products. Dan has a BA in Mathematics from the College of the Holy Cross and a MS in Computer Science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Bacula: An Introduction to an Open Source backup system
K. M. Peterson
What should be a simple problem to solve - having a copy of important data in case of hardware error or human mistake - turns out to have complex (and expens ive) solutions. Bacula is an open-source application that runs in most popular environments, supports disk and tape-based backups, and utilizes a database for managing its catalog of file versions and backup media. This presentation will discuss Bacula's functionality, including its features and some implementation details, and provide a short example of a working configuration.
K. M. Peterson has worked as a manager, systems administrator, and consultant in academic, commercial, and non-profit environments. He's interested in topics in data management, networking, security and automation. Currently, he is seeking the next challenging role, and digging deeper into interesting technologies he has encountered over the past several years.
Wednesday, February 8, 2012
An informal overview of the oVirt project: status, goals and a brief demonstration.
Dave Allan
Dave Allan worn a number of hats: sysadmin, operations manager, field support staff, QA engineer, software developer. I'm currently a software development manager at Red Hat where I am the PHB of the libvirt team and interact freqently with the oVirt team.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
No Meeting

Wednesday, December 14, 2011
LISA Recap
Adam Moskowitz
Wednesday, November 9, 2011
Tracking issues - experiences from the field
Christopher Allison, Tom Bechard, John Rouillard, Tony Rudie, Clarence Smith
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Cloud Filesystem HekaFS
Jeff Darcy
Modern open-source distributed filesystems make it possible to provide file services at a scale and level of availability that's finally competitive with proprietary options. What they don't do - yet - is enable secure sharing of those resources between multiple user bases or organizations who pay for them. This talk will focus on how GlusterFS works to solve the first set of problems, and how HekaFS - which is based on GlusterFS - is solving the second. If you're tired of having to deal with umpteen departmental file servers, each configured differently, this approach might provide some relief.
Jeff Darcy has been working with network, cluster, and distributed filesystems for about twenty years - since DECnet was still relevant and NFSv2 was new. Since then he has gained scars from EMC's MPFS (for which he was one of the initial developers), Lustre, and GlusterFS. He is currently at Red Hat, where he's the project lead for HekaFS and all-around "cloud storage" expert.
slides (PDF, 97KB)
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Converged Networks, Voice / Video / Storage / Data
Ryan Sutton
How do you keep everything running smoothly while giving technologies that require low or constant latency what they need and still be able to watch that dog skateboarding on YouTube. Will discuss how Quality of Service (QoS) works on both Layer 2 and Layer 3 devices and why you probably need both. How should traffic be tagged and retagged with policy decisions. If time permits we may even have some time to go into why net neutrality isn't as cut and dry as you may think. Technical details will be based off of Cisco devices but most concepts will translate to any modern equipment.
Our speaker, Ryan Sutton, is a Systems Engineer at a local Gold Certified Cisco Partner. Ryan specializes in large scale Routing and Switching, Voice, and Data Center designs and implementations. His solutions often include interworking between multiple networking vendors and technologies. Current projects include sub-second core convergence, and multi-city/multi-vendor VoIP installations.
Wed, July 13, 2011
Ruby: More Batteries, Fewer Brackets
Aaron D. Ball
Ruby may be most familiar as the language behind the Rails web framework, and Perl as the "Swiss Army chainsaw" that no sysadmin can live without, but they have a lot more in common than you might think. Ruby comes out of the box with a great set of sysadmin tools, from text processing to Unix system interfaces to TCP servers, and has a syntax about as terse as Perl but with object-oriented and functional-programming idioms that make your code easier to write and understand. Whether you're new to scripting or you've been typing line noise since 1987, this talk will show you another way.
Wed, June 8, 2011
Robert Thau
Robert Thau from Smartleaf will present their Tuttle system configuration tool.
Wed, May 11, 2011
Automating Inventory, Deployment and Configuration of Your Windows Infrastructure
Dan Stolts
Like most IT professionals, you are an administrator in a heterogeneous environment. You have a myriad of tools to inventory, deploy and configure your Unix/Linux machines but how do you do this for the rest of your machines? Come to this session to learn about the tools you must have in your toolbox to inventory, deploy, and remotely configure your windows desktops and servers. We will discuss the free tools as well as the top of the line fully automatable solutions available by Microsoft.
Dan Stolts is a technology specialist with more than 24 years in the industry. He is proficient with many Microsoft products especially those in the server area and holds many certifications including MCT, MCITP, MCSE, TS, etc. Dan is currently specializing in Systems Management and Security and is also very passionate about virtualization technologies. Dan is and has been a very active member of the community. He is the current president of Boston User Groups.
Wed, Apr 13, 2011
The Path to Senior Sysadmin
Adam Moskowitz
Being a senior system administrator is about more than knowing all the options to mount(8) or that modprobe is what's used to replace that buggy kernel module with the latest version. Rather, a good senior sysadmin will have a wide knowledge of relevant technical topics, in-depth knowledge of one or more technologies, good interpersonal skills, and the ability to manage "problem users" and will be comfortable making presentations to and negotiating with mid- and upper-level management. This talk will cover the skills a senior sysadmin needs and why they are necessary and will provide some suggestions for how to acquire these skills.

For nearly one-third of his sysadmin career, Adam Moskowitz held titles such as Senior System Administrator, System Architect, and IT Manager. Despite having returned to his roots as a programmer, Adam remains active in the sysadmin community, including running the LISA Advanced Topics Workshop and serving on the LOPSA Leadership Committee. He claims he does all of this only to support his hobby Advanced Topics Workshop and serving on the LOPSA Leadership Committee. He claims he does all of this only to support his hobby of judging barbecue contests and to keep food in his puppy's bowl.
slides (PowerPoint, 496KB)
speaking notes (powerPoint, 29MB)
Wed, March 9, 2011
How Splunk manages our Junk
Jim Donn and Tim Hartmann
As environments grow and systems become more complex, building and managing a usable centralized logging infrastructure can be a daunting task. In this talk, we will walk through our real-life experiences implementing Splunk as our centrali zed logging infrastructure for our Network, Systems, Security, and Application teams. Over the past three years, we have had to change our strategies and architecture to account for organic customer growth, changes in team requirements, and evolutions in technology.

Jim Donn, Harvard University Network Services Group (UNSG)
Senior Network Management Engineer
Tim Hartmann, Harvard University Network Services Group (UNSG)
Senior Systems Administrator
Wed, February 9, 2010
Project Caua: Private Sector, Environmentally Friendly Jobs with Free Software
Jon Hall
Project Caua is an Open project to create millions of private sector, environmentally friendly jobs utilizing FOSS in urban areas of Latin America, and millions more around the world. In addition, Project Caua will open an avenue for free (as in beer) wireless Internet to help defeat the digital divide, and to provide low-cost training to move people off unemployment and create taxpayers. The specifications for Project Caua can be found at http://www.projectcaua.org/. This talk will outline Project Caua and open the discussion for actual implementation details.

Jon Hall is the Executive Director of Linux International (www.li.org), an association of computer users who wish to support and promote the Linux Operating System. During his career in commercial computing w hich started in 1969, Jon has been a programmer, systems designer, systems administrator, product manager, technical marketing manager, author and educator. He currently works as an independent consultant, and is currently involved with bringing environmentally friendly computing to emerging marketplaces.
Wed, December 8, 2010
LISA Recap
Adam Moskowitz
Usenix LISA 2010 conference recap.
Wed, October 13, 2010
Using MySQLtuner 2.0 to monitor and improve mysql performance
Sheeri K. Cabral
With help from Major Hayden, mysqltuner's original author, Sheeri K. Cabral of the Pythian Group has modified mysqltuner to be more comprehensive, to output information and to have a "spreadsheet" mode where the results of mysqltuner are outputted as a single column, so that you can easily compare subsequent runs of the modified mysqltuner -- for example, running it monthly or weekly to see how performance is progressing (or degrading). There is also a truly offline mode that requires no database connectivity where files containing the output of SHOW GLOBAL STATUS and SHOW GLOBAL VARIABLES are used. This talk will go through how the the modified mysqltuner works including how easy it is to change what is checked and the thresholds, so that you can easily do one-off sanity checks as well as regular monitoring.

Sheeri K. Cabral (The Pythian Group) is a noted MySQL community activist who recently wrote The MySQL Administrator's Bible.
Keep up with her MySQL writings at http://www.pythian.com/news/author/sheeri/.

PDF Slides and Openoffice slides.
Wed, September 8, 2010
Ipswitch WhatsUpGold
Rich Makris
Built on a modular, yet integrated architecture, WhatsUp Gold is an affordable and easy-to-use solution that scales with the size and complexity of any physical or virtual IT infrastructure. From a single console, WhatsUp Gold supports standard IT management tasks including automated discovery, mapping, real-time monitoring, alerting, troubleshooting and reporting. Rich Makris will walk through the benefits of using WhatsUp Gold and how it can make your life easier. As a Sales Engineer for the Network Management division, Rich's focus is on helping customers solve their IT Management needs with WhatsUp Gold and Event Log Management products. He has held various systems and network positions for more than 15 years in government, manufacturing, financial services, and at service providers. Rich also holds certifications from Cisco, Microsoft, and Novell.
Wed, May 12, 2010
Using IPv6
Daniel Hagerty
Daniel has been using IPv6 for fun (and to get things done) for quite some time. Come learn what has and has not worked for him. Details of his personal dual-stack IPv6 setup will be presented as well as other experiences.
Wed, 14 Apr 2010
"Building 16 systems in 16 minutes with xCAT"
Ali Tayarani
Ali Tayarani will discuss how we use xCAT to manage several hundred hosts in our general-purpose LSF-based compute cluster. Slides
"Redefining Compute Nodes and Provisioning"
John Hanks
John Hanks will discuss his grand vision for the future (stateless compute nodes managed with Perceus), exemplified by our new genome-sequencing GridEngine cluster.

Wed, 10 Mar 2010
"How to Interview a System Administrator"
Adam Moskowitz
This will be a shortened version of Adam's LISA tutorial. The full description can be on the LISA 2007 web site.

Wed, 10 Feb 2010
(no meeting)

Wed, 13 Jan 2010
“I Got My Jet Pack and I'm Still Not Happy”
David Blank-Edelman
slides (PDF, 11.75MB)

Wed, 9 Dec 2009
Thirty Minute Tools
John Rouillard (and others)

Wed, 11 Nov 2009
LISA Recap
Adam Moskowitz

Wed, 14 Oct 2009
(was there a meeting?)

Wed, 09 Sep 2009
“Log Analysis with the Simple Event Correlator”
John P. Rouillard

Wed, 12 Aug 2009
Everything I Know About Sysadmin I Learned in the Back of an Ambulance
John P. Rouillard

webmaster at bblisa dot org