Check out the new USENIX Web site.

Join Your Peers for Three Days of Focused Discussion

  • Senior system administrators will want to participate in one or more of these all-day workshops. Attendance is limited for each workshop, which ensures a seminar-like atmosphere.
  • Workshops are full-day sessions. Attending a workshop precludes attending any training sessions on that day.
  • To attend a workshop, you must be a registered technical sessions attendee as well as an accepted workshop participant. See each workshop's description for its registration details. Workshop registration is free of charge.

Workshops Schedule
Fighting Spam  |  Server Room Best Practices  |  MicroLISA  |  
University Issues  |  Configuration  |  Sysadmin Education  |  Advanced Topics

Sunday, November 11
Workshop 1: Fighting Spam: The State of the Art
Chris St. Pierre, Nebraska Wesleyan University
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Pryor AB

Fighting spam is unique for two reasons: First, since spam pits the system administrator against a human foe, the landscape changes very frequently; second, the approach most people take to fighting spam is one of layers, where, through the combination of a number of tools, they can filter the good from the bad.

Consequently, though, keeping up with the new techniques, counter-techniques, tools, intelligence, and approaches can itself be a full-time job. The goal of this workshop is for every participant to come away with an updated arsenal for fighting spam, whether it's a tool that makes their existing setup quicker or easier; a concept they can develop into another arrow in their quiver; or an entirely new layer to fight the latest spamming techniques.

Contact to participate.

Workshop 2: Server Room Best Practices
Hunter Matthews, Duke University
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Reverchon AB

This workshop, intended for mid-level and advanced sysadmins, is intended to share best practices between sites and to try to predict changes that will affect those best practices.

Attendance is limited to people with at least some experience in this area and who need to specify and build data centers as part of their jobs.

To attend, send email to with a brief description of your areas of interest/experience, and indicate if you would be prepared to make a short presentation.

Workshop 3: MicroLISA
Robert Au
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Cotton Bowl

System administrators at very small sites, those with at most a few IT staff, face some unique technical and organizational challenges. Small teams generally assign broader responsibilities to each member; users and management have more exposure to front-line workers, and vice versa; and the organizational environment often limits budget and manpower stringently. This workshop will provide both full-time administrators and consultants with a forum to discuss and explore solutions to those challenges.

Some techniques and technologies, such as clustering, configuration management, and batch queueing systems, are more common in large sites, which have more complex needs and can leverage greater resources and specialization. These approaches may still be worthwhile in smaller sites, if their value outweighs the often proportionally higher learning, implementation, and maintenance costs. Other problems, like backup, restore, and disaster recovery, require significantly different solutions at small sites.

At small sites, sysadmins without the word "manager" in their titles often must take on managerial duties and decisions, such as choosing the appropriate people with which to build a staff, aligning IT goals with organizational goals, and ensuring their own career development. Lack of purchasing power may make vendor negotiations more difficult, and lack of manpower may make emergency coverage run the risk of burnout.

To participate, contact

Monday, November 12
Workshop 4: University Issues
John "Rowan" Littell, California College of the Arts
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Pryor AB

The focus of this workshop is on issues peculiar to university and college computing shops. Schools vary greatly in their approach to running computing infrastructures. The differences can stem from the general culture of the school as well as upper management, or even from departmental versus institution-wide services.

Part of the goal of this workshop is to communicate what works and what does not work for your institution or your organization within the institution. Topics might include funding, student/faculty/staff needs, research, security, purchasing, staffing, training, working with students, working with research and instructional staff, and even the culture and campus integration of computing facilities and support.

To attend the workshop, please send email to with a short paragraph describing your institution, the biggest issue you face today, or something about your institution that works particularly well or that others might want to consider for their own school. You can also include topics you would like to see on the workshop agenda.

Workshop 5: Configuration: From Managing Nodes to Managing Architecture
Mark Burgess, Oslo University College; Sanjai Narain, Telcordia Technologies, Inc.
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Reverchon AB

Traditional infrastructure management technologies have focused on managing nodes. A much harder problem is managing the infrastructure as a whole. Configuration is the fundamental operation for logically integrating components into infrastructure. However, there is a large conceptual gap between end-to-end infrastructure requirements on the one hand and detailed component configurations on the other hand. Today, this gap is manually bridged leading to large numbers of configuration errors. Such errors are the leading cause of infrastructure downtime, security vulnerabilities, and high deployment costs. Thus, two fundamental questions need to be addressed. First, is my infrastructure, as currently configured, compliant with end-to-end infrastructure requirements (e.g., on security, functionality, performance, and availability)? Second, if there are configuration errors, how do I safely remove these so that the infrastructure becomes compliant again? These problems arise not just in networking but also in datacenters and enterprise resource planning. This workshop seeks representation from all these communities to promote understanding of the different forms these problems take in each, and to promote understanding of theoretical foundations for solving these.

Contact to participate.

Tuesday, November 13
Workshop 6: System Administration Education
Brent Hoon Kang, University of North Carolina at Charlotte; Alva Couch, Tufts University; Mark Burgess, Oslo University College
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Pryor AB

The System Administration Education Workshop is in its seventh year at LISA. It is an opportunity for those teaching system administration in a university setting or training sysadmins through short courses and tutorials to share ideas and experiences.

To register for the workshop, please send an outline of your experience and interest in sysadmin education to

The workshop will cover three main topics: (These topics are tentative.)

  1. Broadening and Scoping Sysadmin Education and Curriculum
    • In light of increasing IT outsourcing and with the advent of autonomic computing, what would be the future role of sysadmins and how should our education programs be changed accordingly?
    • How do system administration courses work together with other courses?
    • How do those courses fit into degree programs?
    • How do networking and system administration classes connect?
    • How should we provide the IT security management and IT business
    • operational aspects?
    • How should we provide "mentoring" and other non-standard methods of education?
    Part of the goal will be to review the SAGE Short Topics booklet on Educating and Training System Administrators and to continue cross-fertilizing best practices of the colleges and universities that offer system administration courses and programs.
  2. Education vs. Training (Creativity vs. Knowledge)

    SANS training courses and USENIX tutorials have been offering practical knowledge and skills to the practitioners.

    • What would be the ideal role of academics in educating system admins, system architects, or security management officers?
    • What theoretic components should be covered in system admin education? (i.e., IT design, implementation, and management including security and business operational aspects.)
    • What hands-on components should be included in system admin education?
    • How can we create components that challenge students to think and design IT systems in a creative way using the latest technology?
  3. Case Study: Examples of Hands-on Components in Academic Education Programs
    • IT Architect/Defense Olympiad
    • Cyber Defense Games as class hands-on exercise components

Workshop 7: Advanced Topics
Adam Moskowitz, Menlo Computing
9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., Reverchon AB

This workshop, intended for very senior administrators, provides an informal roundtable discussion of the problems facing system administrators today. Attendance is limited and based on acceptance of a position paper (plain ASCII, three paragraphs maximum); a typical paper covers what the author thinks is the most difficult or important issue facing system administrators today, why this is a problem, and why this problem is important. More information about the workshop and about position papers can be found here; position papers should be sent to Attendees are required to bring a laptop.

?Need help? Use our Contacts page.

Last changed: 5 Nov. 2007 ch