Friday, December 11, 2009

Sysadmins: do you like answering questions?

A debate started up in our hallway over the last few days, and while I am aware that this is water under the bridge, I am curious - am I the only person that likes answering questions while installing an OS?

Before I came to Sun, I was a system administrator. I administered systems running AIX, HPUX, IRIX, Solaris, SunOS, WinNT, Win95, and Win3.1. When installing the OS or any software, I always choose "custom install" or "advanced install". I like having that choice, as the software invariably makes the wrong choices for me. At the very least, I like being able to validate the choices the software has made before they are committed to disk. I am impressed when the software can correctly figure most things out, if it can, but no software, in my opinion, can possibly predict the correct answers for all installations.

There is a lot of lore here in Sun that system administrators and developers don't like all the questions we used to ask during installation of Solaris, which is why this has changed so drastically for OpenSolaris. My experience, though, is limited only to my own and those administrators I worked with at Intel and Amoco (BP, now), so I'm curious - what do you think? Do you abhor questions during install time of software? Or would you rather have the option to review the choices it made for you? Or make the choices yourself?