Operations Journal: A Look into System Administration

My name is Zach Gates and I am a Sophomore at ASU in the Computer Science program. I work on the LROC project as a student system administrator, which means I help our sys-admins create and maintain the computer systems our project needs to run. Working here at LROC is a great opportunity for me to learn more about my field through hands-on experience.

We have a number of computers at the LROC SOC (Science Operations Center); visitors will mostly see our collection of Mac and Linux workstations, which our staff use to perform their duties and communicate. Behind the scenes, we also have a number of Linux and BSD servers in several locations on campus; these handle the substantial computation needed to correctly process and store the data we receive from LRO. Keeping all of the software on these computers up-to-date and configured correctly is a big job, so we use tools, such as puppet,  to automate the process as much as we can. Most of the software we use is free and open source, which makes maintenance much simpler because it removes concerns about payment and licensing.

Most of what I do at LROC is to help keep things running as smoothly as we can; this includes lots of inventory and documentation work, but also many interesting projects, such as developing software to keep our systems running in top-notch shape and helping users with any computer problems they come across.

Published by Zach Gates on 2 September 2009