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Linux 2008
Conference and Workshop
Friday 7th - Sunday 9th November

Linux 2008

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John Pinner - Linux Emporium

Python and System Administration

The philosophy of Unix sysadmin was to have lots of small tools, each of which did one job well, and to provide the mechanisms to join them together to perform larger tasks. The glue joining them together was the Bourne shell. Generations of Unix system programmers used Bourne with the classic utilities like awk, sed, find and tar to look after their systems.

Over the years the development of Unix-like systems such as Linux has seen this philosophy diluted with the advent of the bloated bash shell and utilities, although based on the original Unix tools, with ever more complex options.

An alternative I have tried is using Python. Python is a compact programming language, augmented with a large number of modules which extend its capabilities. In this respect Python is similar in philosophy to classic Unix thinking, with the added benefit of being a modern high level and object-oriented language.

In this talk I will describe some of Python's capabilities in a sysadmin context, with code examples, and discuss its benefits. One of the greatest is that Python is multi-platform, being available on Unix, Windows, Linux and Mac. For example it is possible to have one backup script for use across all platforms, and to restore your backups across platforms.

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