Party like it’s 1999

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The tale told here revolves around Y2K remediation efforts, but don’t think about it as dated and irrelevant to you in 2019; think of it as a timeless tale of managerial perfidy.

It’s early November 1999, and sysadmin pilot fish is among those pulled into a big meeting where the division chiefs want to know where the eight groups in fish’s division stand regarding the looming Y2K deadline. What they hear is not encouraging. Most Windows machines have been patched and tested, but Unix machines are lagging. Patches are glitchy; testing is falling behind; developers can’t get their code running.

Fish goes last, and he feels conspicuous, like the lone schoolboy who’s done all his homework, because he can announce that all of his Unix machines are done and ready for Jan. 1. The other sysadmins are unhappy because fish has made them look back. After the meeting, though, they’re all eager to hear how fish did it, and he tells them about a duplication script he wrote that uses standard Sun commands to format a new disk, so as to replicate the filesystems from one known-good machine and then install the boot block on every other machine with the same architecture.

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