Wandering Thoughts archives


Why I wind up writing my own (sysadmin) tools

I have a tendency to write my own versions of tools, like bulk IO measurement tools, versions of netcat, and network bandwidth reporters. Historically there have been two official reasons for this and a third unofficial one.

First, when I write a tool myself I know exactly what it's doing and what its output means. This has historically been a problem with other people's tools, including system supplied ones (eg). If I'm going to wind up reading the source of a program just to be sure I really understand what it's telling me, I may not be saving much time over writing my own.

(Also, if I write it myself the tool can generally wind up doing exactly what I want in the way that I want it. Other people's tools may have various sorts of rough edges and little annoyances for me.)

Second, because finding and testing and investigating the existing potential options is generally a pain in the rear. People have written a very many tools for doing disk IO benchmarking, for example, and as an outsider it is all a big mess. I'm honest enough to admit that for almost anything I want, there probably are tools out there that would meet my needs and make me happy; the problem is finding them and sorting out the wheat from the chaff. It's unfortunately easy for it to be less work and less frustration to write my own, or at least to feel like it is or will be.

(The frustration primarily comes from investing time into things that turn out to not be useful despite all of the effort, especially if they have active irritations. And most programs have active irritations somewhere.)

The third, unofficial reason is that programming is fun. When it's going well, it's a pure shot of the 'solving problems' drug that I get only in moderation when I'm doing less glamorous activities like building and testing new systems (and never mind the humdrum daily routine; the problems I solve there are all very small). It's especially fun when I contrast it with the slogging work of searching the Internet for a pile of programs that might perhaps do what I want, getting copies of all of them, testing each out, and throwing most of them away. That's not solving problems, that's shuffling files around.

sysadmin/WhyIWriteOwnTools written at 01:55:15; Add Comment

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