Like most IT people, I hate writing documentation. So if I make the effort to write something, I expect it to be read. Is that too much to ask?

Self-Help ou "Comment RTFM"

Vous n'aurez jamais la capacité de mémoriser toutes les options et possibilités d'un système comme GNU/Linux - la seule vraie solution est d'apprendre comment chercher les documentations rapidement. Et la meilleure façon d'apprendre est la pratique.

J'ai écrit cet article en avril 2000 et les détails montrent un peu d'âge. Mais le principe n'a pas changé: RTFM.

Making a bootable backup Debian system disk

Making a backup disk is usually an obvious task, but making the disk ready to boot so that it can immediately be used as a replacement can be tricky.

Here I give a recipe for making a bootable disk that can be adapted to whatever block device you may be using as a backup disk. This could be an internal or external hard disk, a USB key, etc.

I discuss some of the tricks that will avoid creation of a backup system disk that only gets as far as displaying


before it freezes. A number of other pitfalls are mentioned.

I published this article on 2008-01-17 at,

Using the dynamic DNS editor, nsupdate

nsupdate is the little-known brother of nslookup. It is used to make edits on a dynamic DNS without the need to edit zone files and restart the DNS server. If you have declared a zone dynamic, this is the way that you should be making edits.

I published this article on 2008-04-09 at,

Make your own configuration deployment system

NOTE 2008-03-30: this series is still being written.

In this series of articles, I describe the steps to making a flexible configuration deployment system tailored to your needs. It can be as simple or as complete as you care to make it. And since you made it, you can understand it intimately.

If you have two or more machines to manage, you have probably noticed that they have certain similarities of configuration.

These similarities may include

You may have spent an enormous amount of time finding the ideal configuration for a piece of software and you would really regret losing your masterpiece in an unfortunate accident. Or you may need to rapidly deploy the same configuration change to a hundred machines. Or you may be simply tired of doing the same procedures every time you install a new machine.

A configuration deployment system can greatly reduce the amount of work necessary to manage 2 or more machines, but the amount of time necessary to learn the in-and-outs of currently existing systems may be daunting. FAI, cfengine, debconf+LDAP, Subversion, etc. all have their strong points, but if you are just getting started, they are probably overkill. One solution is to build your own system from scratch.

Part 1 - basic considerations and examples

I published this part on 2008-06-30 at,

How to hide comments

Although comments can be a blessing in the configuration file of an unfamiliar system, they eventually become annoying if one is already very familiar with the file. In some extreme cases, they can actually be an obstruction to clarity.

Here are two methods for viewing files without hash (#) comments, one for the command line and one for VIM, and a bit of advice for Debian administrators.

I published this article on 2008-09-10 at,