How can you become a sysadmin overnight?

Sysadmin Appreciation Day: Long live the system administrator

Today is the traditional Sysadmin Appreciation Day. It is not only the system administrators at Heise Verlag who are happy about cakes, biscuits or digital pats in recognition of the work they have done. Separate networks knowledgeably so that Emotet doesn't paralyze the entire publishing house in the event of an attack, that's their job. Dealing with the problems sitting in front of the screen is also part of it.

The system administrator was born when people like Corby Corbáto developed multiuser systems like the Compatible Time Sharing System (CTSS). With the early mainframes, there were operators who took the punch cards from the lower programming caste, started the program and clapped the results on the back of the gratefully kneeling programmer. In multi-user systems, the system administrators were the ones who assigned access rights or threw users out of the system, swept through the full printer queue and experimented with logins on remote computers before they were released for normal users.

This year the Internet will be 50 years old, which will be celebrated on October 29th. At that time, Charley Kline tried to log into a computer at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI) in the Computer Lab at the University of California in Los Angeles (UCLA). Kline was a doctoral student and at the same time assistant to the computer science professor Leonard Kleinrock and looked after a few research computers on his behalf.

Telephone line and auxiliary computer

Both computers were connected to one another via a telephone line and auxiliary computers based on Honeywell process computers, the so-called Interface Message Processor (IMP). When the command line of the SRI machine waited for input, Kline tried to transmit "Login". But he couldn't get beyond Lo, then the connection was broken.

But the first host-to-host communication had taken place and was documented in the logbook by the UCLA and SRI admins at 10:30 p.m. Soon two more computers were connected and work on other computers gradually became routine in order to use valuable computing time efficiently - or to play games, which strict admins prevented on the local host. In the early Internet, then called Arpanet, host-to-host communication was implemented via the IMPs using the Network Control Protocol. This soon proved to be a bottleneck and so an alternative called TCP / IP was developed.

Today's Internet came with the big change, when the communication of around 400 host computers was switched from NCP to TCP / IP. While the actual switch made little problem, Van Jacobson, one of the co-developers of TCP / IP, noticed communication problems between the host he oversees at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the host at the University of California at Berkeley, who is only a few hundred yards from his laboratory was removed.

First DoS attack

Jacobson discovered that the packet transit time was longer on such short routes than on long routes; communication was slower than expected. The two machines in close proximity to one another delivered something like the first DoS attack. As a real sysadmin, Jacobson wrote a patch that same night - admins can think during the night that this is what distinguishes them from the common user - a patch.

His work, together with the results of Michael Karels, was presented at a congress under the telling title Congestion Avoidance and Control (PDF file) and quickly implemented internationally. An admin made sure that the Internet could grow by a few million users. It is not known whether he received cake for it. (dz)

Read comments (425) Go to homepage
Ad ad