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Time Management for System Administrators by Thomas A. Limoncelli

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Chapter 12. Documentation

This chapter is about how a good documentation repository can help us as system administrators, especially in our effort to manage our time better.

But first, let’s talk about why we dislike, fear, and generally avoid writing documentation.

We’re suspicious of anyone who asks us to document what we do because it sounds like the precursor to being fired. If we document what we do, we can be replaced. Alternatively, the request to have everything documented comes from outside our group, usually from someone who has gotten “ISO 9001 fever” and doesn’t realize that documenting processes is a means to an end, not the other way around.

It can be very difficult to start writing a document. “Documentation” summons an intimidating image of a 1,000-page book describing everything we do, how it’s done, and how things work. Where the heck would we start if we had to write that?

System administrators are often perfectionists. We could never document everything. Why start a project if it can’t be finished? Because of the time it takes to write, documentation often becomes outdated during the writing. Why write something that will be useless the day it is completed?

Besides, there is always a line of people outside our offices requesting that we do urgent things. That’s always going to trump documenting. Writing requires long stretches of uninterrupted time. No system administrator has that, right?

Lastly, geeks hate printed documents. Why kill a tree?

This chapter proposes ...

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