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Original song Everyone's Free (to use sunscreen)
Original artist Baz Luhrman
Filk author John Rudd
Intro (note: no one should take this as being specifically about any particular group of people at any job, past or present. It's based on not just my general experiences, but on the experiences of several friends. You can find a copy of this at: )

This parody is dedicated to past coworkers, lost and lamented.

Everyone's Free (to document their system)

If I could offer you one tip for the future, documentation would be it. The long term benefits of a well documented system, with FAQs, RFCs, and man pages, have been proven time and again by systems administrators everywhere, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own miserable experience... I will dispense this advice now

Enjoy and appreciate the well behaved and polite users. Oh, nevermind, by the time you figure out who the well behaved and polite users are, you'll have wasted all of your available time on the ones who are not. But believe me, in 20 years you'll look back at photos of some users and recall in a way you can't grasp now, how much time and energy you wasted on those other whiners.

Do not worry about system failures; or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to get users to save often and pay attention to warning messages. The real system failures are often caused by things you were completely aware of but were unable to fix due to political or budgetary constraints, until the CEO can't read his email at 8am on some Monday morning.

Do one thing everyday that scares your users.


Do not be reckless with system security. Do not tolerate those who are.


Don't waste your time on user complaints. Sometimes they're happy, sometimes they're not. Their rants are long, and in the end, no one really wants to hear them but themselves.

Remember the compliments. Forget the insults. If you suceed in shutting them up, tell me how.

Keep your joke emails. Throw away the company announcements.


Do not feel guilty if you don't have a plan for your processes. The best sysadmin's I know didn't have time to make one, and most of us never do.

Do plenty of backups.

Be kind to your CFO, you'll miss him when he's gone.

Maybe you'll upgrade, maybe you wont. Maybe you'll centralize, maybe you wont. Maybe you'll switch architectures to some new chip. Maybe you'll dance on the smashed bits of some legacy computer you finnaly retire. Whatever you do, don't throw away the system backups -- you're half likely to need them again, and so is everybody else.

Enjoy your system. Use it every chance you can. Don't be afraid of it, or what people think of it. You'll remember it fondly long after it is out grown.

Read the README's, even if you don't follow them.

Do NOT read PC gossip magazines, they will only make you STUPID.

Get to know your support-reps, you never know when you might need one. Be nice to your coworkers; they're your best support system when things crash, and the most likely to help you restore a filesystem.

Understand that coworkers come and go, except for the precious few you manage to hold on to. Work hard to bridge the gaps between departments, because the older you get, the more you'll need their support in political battles.

Work at a start-up once, but leave before it burns you out. Work for the government once, but leave before it makes you a pencil pusher.

Accept certain inalieable truths. Disk use will rise, managers will make unreasonable schedules, and you too will get old waiting for compiles. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, people made do with tiny disks and slow systems, managers were reasonable, and users respected their sysadmins.

Respect your fellow sysadmins.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you'll be able to trust a certain few users, maybe some will be former sysadmins too; but you never know when either will make a mistake and say they didn't do anything but hit return.

Don't mess too much with Sendmail, or by the time you're 40, you'll have no hair.

Be careful whose documentation you read, but be patient with those who actually bother to write it. Documentation is a form of context; writing it is a way of preserving information about how your system works, detailing the ugly parts, and proving what it's worth.

Trust me on the documentation.

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