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USENIX, The Advanced Computing Systems Association

LISA '06 Abstract

Pp. 287298 of the Proceedings

Fighting Institutional Memory Loss: The Trackle Integrated Issue and Solution Tracking System

Daniel S. Crosta and Matthew J. Singleton, Swarthmore College Computer Society; Benjamin A. Kuperman, Swarthmore College

Abstract

For part-time sysadmins, a record of past actions is an invaluable tool that provides guidance in repairing or extending system services. However, requiring sysadmins to keep a detailed log of changes made to a live system can often seem like a low priority task when compared to addressing long and growing to-do lists. This problem is worse if the system administrator is a part-time volunteer and an overworked student. In this paper we present Trackle, an integrated trouble ticket and solution tracking system which takes the legwork out of creating and maintaining this sort of institutional memory. Furthermore, Trackle is designed to allow untrained student sysadmins to bootstrap their knowledge by peeking over the shoulders of their more experienced colleagues - even if those colleagues graduated years earlier. We accomplish this by tracking the exact actions taken by sysadmins, showing what lines were changed and in which configuration files. We allow experienced and inexperienced sysadmins alike to freely annotate and cross-reference these shell session logs through an integrated Wiki web interface.
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