Unleash your inner root

Customized Efficiency: Fact or Folly?

As a Sysadmin I exist on a variety of different systems that I don’t always use enough to justify deploying customization files, like vimrc’s, bashrc’s, or other things along those lines. Generally speaking on those systems I only log in when there is a specific task I need to accomplish, and so I don’t have time when its on my mind to customize things, but afterwards I don’t think about it. As such I’ve long resisted many “quality of life” changes to systems. I’ve only recently started passing around a .vimrc file, even on my personal machines, and that was a subject of huge internal debate for me.

Here is the problem: I know I could make my personal systems tweaked to a level that makes everything I do incredibly efficient, but what I fear more than anything is then logging into a machine that I DON’T have my 667 secret tweaks in place that make everything golden and magical, and I will fall down the stairs like a drunk toddler wearing roller skates on a skateboard.

As mentioned up about four lines ago, I did cave and have given myself a vimrc file that I push around with my github repositories and that has made me a very happy little bunny.

Now to the point: zsh. I’ve heard many people talk about how it has changed their lives. I’ve tested it out (being curios isn’t a sin right?) and a lot of the features are VERY convenient. being able to tab complete /u/lo/b to /usr/local/bin? PURE MAGIC. The problem is: those features that make zsh worth using A) require some customization, and B) require…zsh!

In my work environment zsh is not installed by default. Now yes, I could go around and first install zsh on all of my systems, then go through and copy my zshrc file or whatever zsh uses to choose configuration options to all of them, and life would be good, but then I move to another department or get a new job, and I’m thrust back into the cold all over again. I feel as though using…well, using NOT bash essentially, is basically cutting my legs off for the chance to fly. Yes, when I can fly, flying is awesome! Those times when you’d have to walk though, would suck. Is the trade off worth it? Is it worth it to cripple your shell skills in order to move a bit faster from time to time?

A lot of the big “Admin” focused features that aren’t just minor convenience items(lets face it auto completing /u/lo/b is cool, but ultimately its merely a novelty feature) can be recreated by simply having good linux skills in general.

So here is my question, to myself and to the world. Is it worth it to have a 300 line vimrc that makes your writing on your personal box more efficient when you will then have trouble dealing with vim on random machine a? is it worth it to switch to a super shell like zsh on the machines you can, when you know you’ll have to adapt to NOT having access to it in many frustrating situations that will make you feel as though you are an idiot?


Brandon.Graves • February 2, 2016

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