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LISA 2002 - Technical Program Abstract

Work-Augmented Laziness with the Los Task Request System

Thomas Stepleton - Swarthmore College Computer Society
Pp. 1-12 of the Proceedings of LISA '02: Sixteenth Systems Administration Conference,
(Berkeley, CA: USENIX Association, 2002).


Quotidian system administration is often characterized by the fulfillment of common user requests, especially on sites that serve a variety of needs. User creation, group management, and mail alias maintenance are just three examples of the many repetitive tasks that can crowd the sysadmin's day. Matters worsen when users neglect to provide necessary information for the job. They can grow bleakest, however, at volunteer-run or otherwise loosely-coordinated sites, where sysadmins often collectively hope for someone else to attend to the task.

The Los Task Request System addresses all three problems. It mitigates user vagueness with web forms generated from XML parameter specification files. It skirts sysadmin sloth by requiring one simple review and approval step to set changes into motion. It then saves time by automatically executing commands tailored from user input. Amidst this convenience, cryptographic signatures on Los directives ensure that only administrators can alter the system. Overall, Los aims to make life easier for users and sysadmins by standardizing and streamlining the submission, review, and execution of requests for common system tasks.

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Last changed: 11 Nov. 2002 aw
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