[Sysadmin] Practice the habit of not typing rm -f

by Daniel Pham
Published: Updated:

Well, I have to tell you that this is my personal confidant. And this is also an experience that I have experienced during my work.

Sysadmin and mistake

I have been doing system administrator for a few years and am still doing this job.

For those who do not know what sysadmin is. Please understand simply, we are the people who build and operate the infrastructure system. Help you access services such as website, chat, video … 24/24 hours, 7 days per week and 365 days per year.

Back to the mistake, so does sysadmin make a mistake? Definitely yes, my friend. No one has ever made a mistake in their work, big or small.

With sysadmin, a mistake can also have very terrible consequences. What can you imagine? Paralysis of the entire system of the company, even removing the entire company’s data and therefore, the company is definitely bankrupt.

Only a few bosses understand the importance of a sysadmin. Mostly technology companies. I remember an incident that happened a few years ago, An Amazon sysadmin manipulated wrongly while working, causing half of the virtual servers on the east coast of the United States to be removed.

As a result of that, I did not dare to imagine. It is possible that many companies using Amazon’s services went bankrupt because their data was deleted.

a sysadmin should be careful when type rm command
A sysadmin should be careful when type ‘rm’ command.

Sysadmin practice the habit of not typing rm -f

You are too familiar with the rm (remove) command, right? and the -f (force) option will help you delete without asking. This may sound very convenient but it is really disastrous.

I once fell into that situation, I accidentally typed rm -f with a configuration file on the server. Fortunately, that configuration file I backed up and I can restore it immediately.

Set the case, if I don’t backup the configuration file. Company data may still be safe, but the server will be down due to a configuration error. And that, for a sysadmin is not allowed.

We must ensure that the system operates continuously and is not allowed to interrupt for any reason including power outages.

And from the previous mistake, I had a habit of not typing rm with the -f option. I will always let rm ask if I am sure I want to delete the file/folder. That will help the system to be safe.

And what I want to tell you is on the way to becoming a sysadmin. Always be careful because you may make mistakes at any time.


The article is only for my personal sharing, but a view from a person who manages and operates the system.

(This is an article from my old blog that has been inactive for a long time, I don’t want to throw it away so I will keep it and hope it helps someone).

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