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LISA Outstanding Achievement Award

This award goes to someone whose professional contributions to the system administration community over a number of years merit special recognition.

2014: Theodore Ts'o

For materially contributing to the betterment of the industry and its practitioners by sharing a devotion to teaching and learning.

2013: Brendan Gregg

For contributions to the field of system administration, particularly groundbreaking work in systems performance analysis methodologies.

2012: Jeffrey Snover, Bruce Payette, and James Truher

Jeffrey Snover, Bruce Payette, and James Truher receive the LISA award for PowerShell, bringing the power of automated system administration to the Windows environment, where it was previously largely unsupported. Ulike most historic scripting languages, PowerShell does so with particular elegance, weaving the Lambda Calculus into the language, without forcing the developer to have an advanced degree in computer science to be able to use it. PowerShell has been a landmark success, exceedingly popular with system administration users, having a very high impact on the automation of Windows administration.

2011: Ethan Galstad

The 2011 LISA Outstanding Achievement Award goes to Ethan Galstad, the creator and principal maintainer of Nagios. Nagios, initially released in 1999, is free and open source software that provides monitoring and alerting for the entire IT infrastructure. As a sysadmin who nominated Ethan for this award succinctly put it, "These tools have greatly improved the work experience of system administrators by providing a fully functional open source alternative, helping to prevent sysadmins from being paged unnecessarily while providing excellent visibility into server and network health."

2009: David Blank-Edelman

The 2009 LISA Outstanding Achievement Award was awarded to David N. Blank-Edelman, author, speaker, instructor, and conference organizer. Ever generous with his time and his knowledge, David has worked in the sysadmin community for a quarter of a century, bringing expertise and entertainment to students, conference attendees, and readers of ;login:, as well as serving as a voice of reason and leadership in community matters. David served as the chair of LISA '05 and one of the LISA '06 Invited Talks co-chairs. His classes, at LISA and elsewhere, his highly regarded Perl for System Administration books, and his ;login: columns deliver practical advice in a highly digestible form, while cultivating critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

2008: Samba Team

The 2008 LISA Outstanding Achievement Award goes to the Samba Team for the rich capabilities they've brought to system administrators and users in heterogeneous computing environments.

SAMBA permits UNIX/Linux servers to provide file and print services to Windows users. Since 1992, the SAMBA project has grown from an interesting experiment in interoperability to a core technology that most UNIX/Linux sites cannot live without (even if their management doesn't know). As a side effect, the project has popularized previously hidden issues in our industry, including the right to reverse-engineer proprietary protocols and how companies use proprietary protocols offensively. The team includes dozens of developers around the world.

2007: Æleen Frisch

Æleen Frisch's achievements are no mystery to this audience. Her book Essential System Administration, now in its third edition, is on many of our shelves, and she had shown an untiring commitment to advancing the state of the art through tutorials and presentations around the world. A system administrator for over 20 years and the Program Chair of LISA '03, Æleen practices, writes, and teaches the critical analysis skills that for many of us have turned system administration from guesswork into a science.

2006: Tobias Oetiker and Dave Rand

Before the creation of MRTG and RRDTool, the only people who could reap the benefits of long-term, historical statistics–gathering were people with multi-million-dollar budgets. MRTG and RRDTool democratized and therefore popularized historical data collection. As a result, network utilization planning has grown from guesswork into a fine art. These tools are also used to track a wide array of resources, from disk I/O stats, to CPU and memory usage, to license server data. Thanks to Tobias, Dave, and their team, system and network administrators are no longer limited to fire-fighting when resources are overloaded. We can now easily examine network and system data, presented in an intuitive form, to predict and plan for upgrades months in advance of dire necessity.

2005: Tom Limoncelli and Christine Hogan

For The Practice of System and Network Administration. Published in 2001, their book continues to be cited frequently by the LISA community as a topical work. The book advances the profession by advancing the administrator from a technically competent individual to a professional system administrator.

2004: Brent Chapman

For his contributions to firewalls, mailing lists, and the community.

2003: Two Awards

Eric Anderson, Paul Anderson, Mark Burgess, and Alva Couch

For professional contributions to the field of system administration through their ground-breaking work in system administration theory. As they practice it, system administration theory is a useful, emerging academic subdiscipline in which all four have been working for years.

Lee Damon

For service to LISA and to the profession as a whole. Lee has published several USENIX papers, has been the Guru-Is-In coordinator for multiple conferences, chaired both the LISA Code of Ethics working group and the Policies working group, and contributed to the LISA Security working group.


No award was given in 2002.

2001: Hal Pomeranz

For his exemplary contributions as an educator of system administrators, through works such as the Perl Practicum series, and for his years of leadership in the system administration community.

2000: Celeste Stokely

or her pioneering achievements in distributing systems management information.

1999: Wietse Venema

For his continuing work to help improve computer security through the development of system administration tools.

1998: Tina Darmohray

For her dedication and tireless efforts to promote understanding and recognition of the System Administration profession.

1997: Paul Vixie

For work on BIND and for ongoing efforts to eliminate spam email from the Internet.

1996: Elizabeth Zwicky

For her role in founding LISA.

1995: Evi Nemeth

For her contributions to the system administration and student community.

1994: Larry Wall

For his work on Perl and other system administration tools.

1993: Max Vasilatos and Rob Kolstad

For their role in organizing the early LISA conferences, and for general contributions to the system administration community.