[nSLUG] Re: On irrelevant linux questions and taking things seriously

D G Teed donald.teed at gmail.com
Thu Apr 12 07:44:06 ADT 2007

On 4/11/07, Mike Spencer <mspencer at tallships.ca> wrote:
> I won't quote any of the recent posts lest the author think, wrongly,
> that I'm taking a  personal run at the individual. But WRT the mention
> of "professional" vs. "hobbyist"...
> The notion of "professional" does not partition the universe into two
> parts -- "professional" and the remainder "hobbyist".  I'm not a
> professional programmer altho my name is on the official alumni list
> for Project Athena.  I'm not a professional auto mechanic altho I did
> it full time for several years.  I'm not a profession millwright, nor
> farmer nor carpenter nor biochemist but I have varying chops for all
> of those.
>        A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an
>        invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write
>        a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort
>        the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone,
>        solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program
>        a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die
>        gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
>                              -- Robert Heinlein "Time Enough For Love"
> So please don't dis and condescendingly dismiss everyone who isn't a
> "professional" as a "hobbyist".
> I encounter this same thing on the blacksmithing list (and I do think
> of myself as a profession artist-blacksmith.) A few individuals seem
> to think that if one isn't running a metalworking business, not
> "summoning the aspect and taking on the attribute" of a business
> operator, one must be a mere hobbyist.
> If you do what you love, if you take your Bucky Fuller antientropic
> imperative to the workbench, if you follow any one of a number of wise
> people's guides to living, you probably won't fit easily into *any*
> "professional" role but neither will what you do be easily dismissed
> as a hobby.
> There.  Now I feel better. :-)
I actually know what you mean.  I was there too.  I had sought to master all
of the
stuff you'd cover in sysadmin roles on a home server, and in job interviews,
would say "well you have done a number of things as a hobbyist which are

There are some differences in the level of challenges.  I never saw anything
sitting in my
postfix queue at home no matter how many people I gave accounts to.  But
when you get
into a scale of 9000 users and half of them are over quota, and there are
to 1 million incoming messages a day, it presents a different situation to
managing postfix queues.  Knowing how to set up things is one part of the
knowledge, but there is still more to cope with on the professional level.

There is also a difference in level of freedom.  At home, I can install
anything.  Pure freedom.
At work, we debated Linux distros, informed sys admins versus naive
managers, and
eventually Debian was picked.  Then a manager was let go, and eventually the
manager picked Redhat.  A big reason this happened is that the Debian
old kernel would not support recent hardware - something a manager
(Yes there are ways around that, but this manager is a Windows guy and
like non-standard installation methods.)

There is also a challenge of supporting legacy stuff.  I have to work with
FreeBSD 4.11 and
Solaris 6 thru 10.  Half of it shouldn't be that ancient, but it is what I
was given.
I might ask a question on how to deal with some challenge on an ancient OS,
and a hobbyist level user might respond, "why don't you install distro X?"
Easy for a hobbyist level user to consider.  Very complicated for legacy
installations (has to happen, but not this month or maybe year).

There are differences between production server and hobby box, and what
you can consider doing on each, and this is a real line which influences
how work is done, and what options a person can consider.

So perhaps with that, you can understand my perspective a little more.

At home I am a hobbyist.  I think I've said that before.  It has nothing to
do with
a lower grade of human.  I've said that hobbyist are where the cutting edge
is for much development related efforts, and I believe that.


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