Share your knowledge at the LQ Wiki.
Go Back > Blogs > Musings on technology, philosophy, and life in the corporate world
User Name


Hi. I'm a Unix Administrator, mathematics enthusiast, and amateur philosopher. This is where I rant about that which upsets me, laugh about that which amuses me, and jabber about that which holds my interest most: Unix.
Rate this Entry


Posted 03-26-2010 at 10:33 AM by rocket357
Updated 03-30-2010 at 10:39 AM by rocket357

Yup, it's that time again. Time to renew our hatred of closed-source, "idiot-proof" software. Time to break out the pitchforks.

Well, it's that time for me, at see, late yesterday afternoon I got a call from one of our customers. This customer was a bit of a tricky one that I hadn't dealt with much in the past, but going by the decisions they made in configuration and setup of their website (our code, their machines), I started putting two and two together...some background:

Customer for a few years now, decided to keep it all "in house" and host their own site using our code. We gave them hardware recommendations, "best-practice" tips, etc... They insisted on setting up the database server and being the only ones with access to it. This happened long before I became Database Administrator, so I just let them do their thing when I took over as DBA.

"Their thing" caught up with them yesterday, and they called. The conversation went something like this:

Customer: "Hi, this is xxxxxxxxx from xxxxxxxxxxxx, I'm calling for a bit of assistance."
Me: "Good afternoon, xxxxxxxxx, what seems to be the issue?" (You can tell I don't answer phones for a living haha)
Customer: "Yeah, we have had a bit of an issue with our database server...looks like SQL Server was shutdown and now it won't start back up."
Me: "Ok, I know you guys have been against granting us access to the machine before, but in this special case can we review that decision?"
Customer: "Absolutely, I've already set up the accounts for you."
Me: "Wonderful! I'll get connected and start looking right away."
Customer: <connection details>
Me: <connecting to server and looking around. Customer has me connect via VNC so he can watch what I'm doing>
Me: "Ahh, ok, looks like SQL Server isn't registered as a service on this machine. Did you have registry problems recently?"
Customer: "Yeah, we had to run a rescue CD to fix some registry corruption."
Me: "Ahh, ok. Do you have database backups?"
Customer: "Umm, no. Not that I can get to, at least"
Me: "Not that you can get to?"
Customer: "Our network admin handles all of that...but he's out on personal leave right now for a family emergency...I don' t know when he'll be back."
Me: "Ok, I'm going to back up the raw data files for you and then try to repair SQL Server. If that fails, I'll reinstall."
Customer: "Umm, will that break anything?"
Me: "I hope not." (I was thinking "Isn't it already broken?!?", but I didn't say that)
Customer: "You hope?"
Me: "I haven't worked with this machine before, I have no way of verifying the environment, the hardware status, or the installation procedure you used. Hope is the best I can do at the moment."
Customer: "Uhh, ok. Go ahead and do what you have to do."
Me: <backing up database files>
Me: "Ok, I need you to insert the SQL Server installation disk."
Customer: "Ok, done."
Me: <running through repair routine, starting up SQL Server, and verifying their data is there and nothing was lost>
Customer: "Wow...thank you so much!"
Me: "No problem. Let's check your website and make sure it's back up and running now."
Customer: "Url is xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx"
Me: "Thanks...hrmmm...I'm getting connection refused. Is my vpn account set up to allow access to the application server?"
Customer: "Let me check the site, I know I can hit it...hrmmm...I get connection refused, too."
Me: "What machine is the application running on."
Customer: "Same one as the database."
Me: "Oh...<my company> has found that Unix/Apache is the best environment to run our code on, but no problem, Apache probably needs to be restarted or reinstalled."
Customer: "We run on IIS"
Me: "IIS? That's not a supported configuration."
Customer: "I know...but we know IIS better than Apache so we moved the code over to IIS."
Me: "Oh, so you can fix it from here?"
Customer: "Ummm, no. Could you look at IIS for me?"
At this point, I told him I'd call my boss and see what we could do from there. My company's official stance was that we would migrate them to our intranet, set the code up properly, and run them in a tested and regulated environment temporarily until the IIS issue could be resolved. Customer told us that they wouldn't be renewing their contract after this.

As for Microsoft, I don't understand why their "user-friendly" software is chosen so much over reliable alternatives such as Linux or *BSD. In the end, if it's running on Windows and maintained by non-qualified personnel (i.e. the people who need "user-friendly" software) it will fail. The illusion of being able to maintain a complex piece of machinery such as a server has many times screwed over "administrators" and "power-users".

Damn Microsoft for perpetuating this illusion.
Posted in Microsoft Rants
Views 2164 Comments 2
« Prev     Main     Next »
Total Comments 2


  1. Old Comment
    that's wicked soft.
    there are two proprietary programs I often use under linux: Opera browser and Half-Life (under wine). I'm glad I don't need anything else.
    And I always feel sorry when I see someone bound to deal with stuff like windoze or such tricky customers.
    Posted 03-26-2010 at 07:26 PM by Web31337 Web31337 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    For desktop systems, I don't normally care if it's proprietary or not (though I tend to stick to open source because OpenBSD doesn't play nicely with closed software), but for a critical server system I can't justify putting my balls on a table while the closed-source vendors circle me with hammers.
    Posted 03-29-2010 at 12:13 PM by rocket357 rocket357 is offline


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 05:14 PM.

Main Menu
Write for LQ is looking for people interested in writing Editorials, Articles, Reviews, and more. If you'd like to contribute content, let us know.
Main Menu
RSS1  Latest Threads
RSS1  LQ News
Twitter: @linuxquestions
Facebook: linuxquestions Google+: linuxquestions
Open Source Consulting | Domain Registration