Good principles for sysadmins and solution architects

Solaris™ Administration Best Practices by Peter Baer Galvin is an old gem. Here’s the list:

  • Keep an Eye Peeled and a Wall at Your Back
  • Communicate with Users
  • Help Users Fix It Themselves
  • Use Available Information
  • Know When to Use Strategy and When to Use Tactics
  • All Projects Take Twice as Long as They Should
  • It’s Not Done Until It’s Tested
  • It’s Not Done Until It’s Documented
  • Never Change Anything on Fridays
  • Audit Before Edit
  • Use Defaults Whenever Possible
  • Always Be Able to Undo What You Are About to Do
  • Do Not Spoil Management
  • If You Haven’t Seen It Work, It Probably Doesn’t
  • If You’re Fighting Fires, Find the Sources
  • If You Don’t Understand It, Don’t Play with It on Production Systems
  • If It Can Be Accidentally Used, and Can Produce Bad Consequences, Protect It
  • Ockham’s Razor Is Very Sharp Indeed
  • The Last Change Is the Most Suspicious
  • When in Doubt, Reboot
  • If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It
  • Save Early and Often
  • Dedicate a System Disk
  • Have a Plan
  • Cables and Connectors Can Go Bad
  • Mind the Power
  • Try Before You Buy
  • Don’t Panic and Have Fun

It so happens, the practices can be equally applied to Windows system administration and creating solution architectures, including security solutions.

I don’t agree with one of the pearls of wisdom included in the writeup – this one:

The question you ask as a sys admin is not “Are you paranoid?”; it’s “Are you paranoid enough?”



Last time I checked paranoia was some sort of mental illness. Being paranoid isn’t good for you. Paranoia results in malformed perception largely replacing reality in someone’s mind.


And I’d add another rule: Always question “Best Practices”.

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