44: Too Much Trouble To Bother

I’m churning through the tech edits on Run Your Own Mail Server so I can get it to copyedit before the Kickstarter launches, partially because it’s more ethical but mostly because the Kickstarter description says the book is in copyedit and changing that would be too much work.

Ethics of System Administration

I have firm memories of the first time I got root on a mail server, back when the 1.544Mb T1 was the pinnacle of connectivity and my 33.6K modem thrilled me. I thought, “I can’t possibly view everybody’s mail.” I ran more /var/mail/boss and immediately recoiled, guts churning in horror of my appalling power.

Whoever controls a server can see all the information stored on that server. Every system administrator knows this, but in most cases extracting the information is too much trouble to bother. Maybe you’re the database administrator for your organization’s ecommerce system, but you’re probably far more interested in how much space the database uses than who bought what.

Until you’re not.

Unlike a database, examining email stored as text files is trivial. You don’t even need SQL, only privilege and a pager.

The Kickstarter launches 20 May. It’ll be your only way to get a signed book outside catching me in meatspace.

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