A New Twist on Teaching System Administration
University of Indiana
The Unix Workstation Support Group (UWSG) is part of
University Computing Services (UCS) at Indiana University. Although
UWSG is a small, five member group, located on the main campus in
Bloomington, the group provides advanced system administration
consulting for the entire campus system. This includes eight branch
campuses as well as the main campus.
As a growing number of departments on campus turn to Unix to
meet their computing needs, the need for system administrators
increases. Many departments lack the finances to both purchase a
Unix workstation and hire a system administrator. For example, the
UWSG set up a new departmental workstation in late 1995. By mid
summer 1996, the department still did not have a system
administrator and the systems main users had only a minimal
knowledge of Unix. Compounding this problem is a general shortage
of experienced system administrators on campus. This has resulted
in an increase in the number of novice system administrators and
Unix users interested in learning system administration. The UWSG
has felt this increase directly, as group members continue to spend
more and more time on basic system administration consultations.
Because many of these requests come from outside the campus
system, it is apparent that this issue is not limited to the
Indiana University computing environment. The number of
universities offering system administration courses has increased.
University departments who have access to these courses frequently
cannot afford the time involved in enrolling a staff member.
Additionally, system administration is often an upper-level course
that also requires several prerequisite courses. The number of
commercial Unix system administration courses has increased.
However, the cost of these training courses is prohibitive for many
who could use the instruction.
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