On the Job

September 17, 2004

Despite what you think, I do know what I'm doing

Sorry it's been so long since a new editorial, I've been busy lately with ice skating classes (no really!), resumed French classes, swimming, going to the gym, and, of course, work. I know, no excuse!

I'm really getting tired of people at work thinking they're so much smarter than I am, and that they can do things so much better. Actually, I'm not tired of that at all, when it's true. I've been building linux workstations for developers, with Redhat 9. That's not really supported anymore, but I've got a build for it that works and is fast, and I'm comfortable with it, and I just don't have time right now to work out something else on another distribution. I'll get there eventually, I just haven't yet and it's not a priority. So earlier this week, I gave a guy a box, and he said he'd let me know if he had any questions. Yesterday, he asked if it was ok for him to install Fedora on there, or at least run the Redhat update program. I said it was fine, figuring that he was competent at Linux.

OK, that was stupid of me. This morning, he told me that the updater messed up some of his device drivers and he had no choice but to reinstall from scratch. He wanted to use Fedora. I told him some things I wanted him to keep the way it was (hostname, root password), but I didn't care about the rest. Until he called me when things didn't work, like, for instance, logging in. I worked on it for a while trying to get it work, and then traced the problems to a couple of faulty packages he had installed that needed to be updated. He called a couple more times, until I flat told him I wouldn't spend anymore time helping him get something I'm not familiar with working right.

Then he asked if he could have the Redhat CDs and just do my setup all over again. I let him borrow them, and gave him a copy of my standard build document, which is very simple. An hour or so later, he's calling again because things are still not working. So I logged in, and everything looked fine to me. However, I see his problem pretty quickly. He created a local account with the same username as the network account, which causes interference issues and makes things just wrong. I won't say that it's newbies-only error, but it really isn't something someone should do if they're THAT much smarter than me and Mr Linux God. Sorry, it's just not.

So what did I learn from this? For one thing, I'm going to quit telling people to go ahead and do whatever they want to their systems. Of course, they still can, but it will come with the disclaimer that I will not spend more than 2 minutes to help them out if they have a problem. Maybe I should make a test to give people who think they're all that. Nah, it would never work.

Published: September 17, 2004
Editor: stacy

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