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USENIX Tenth System Administration Conference (LISA '96)

Institute White Pages as a System Administration Problem

Jon Finke
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


With the planned departure of our mainframe, we had to find a new way to maintain and generate our Institute Telephone directory. This gave us the opportunity to examine every aspect of the directory generation process, and make changes to improve the accuracy of the data, reduce the clerical workload in Telecommunications and Human Resources and eliminate some duplication of data and effort. Given that we already had an Oracle based system to automatically create and remove Unix userids for all employees as they are hired and leave, it seemed that with some minor enhancements, this same system could also maintain our directory information.

To this end, we added a directory module to our Simon Account management system that extracts directory information from the Human Resources database, adds additional non employee information and generates LaTeX source for the printed phone book, HTML pages for the web and a raw feed for the ph server. In addition, using techniques developed for some of our system administration tools, we gave both individual staff members, and their departmental administrators, the ability to make changes and corrections to their own directory information, which would not only appear in the directories, but also be reflected in the official Human Resource database. This has greatly reduced the delays and paperwork involved in changing this information, and allows us to have accurate and up to date directories. As an added bonus, many of our ``traditional'' systems administration tools can now directly query the directory information and include contact info in the displays automatically.

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