This has always been the (many times undeserved) joke about clueless Windows admins: They have a small arsenal of possible fixes, and once they've exhausted the supply, they punt and rebuild the server from scratch rather than dig deeper. On the Unix side of the house, that concept has been met with derision since the dawn of time, but as Linux has moved into the mainstream -- and the number of marginal Linux admins has grown -- those ideas are suddenly somehow rational.
The worst part is that these ideas are not just limited to proper reboot etiquette. There are numerous examples of poor Unix hygiene in many shops. To me, that's deeply unsettling, especially because some of the main tenets of Unix administration are structured explicitly to encourage proper maintenance of the operating system. The simplest example of this is filesystem structure: Configuration info goes in /etc, logs in /var, local files in /usr/local, libraries in /lib and /usr/lib, and so forth. Sure, you can scatter crap all over the disk, but everything is much simpler and cleaner if you color within those particular lines.
But if all it takes is a few clicks of a mouse in vSphere's Windows-based client to pop out a cloned server instance (ostensibly built by someone who knew what they were doing), then what does it matter? It's all very convenient and cool, right?
Wrong. If you don't understand the underpinnings, you're missing the point. Anyone can drive the car, but if it doesn't start for some reason, you're helpless. That's a problem if you're paid to know how to fix the car.
This story, "The decline and fall of system administration," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.