Back to archaeologist.html

What is a System Archaeologist?

A System Archaeologist is someone who has to look at relics of the past and determine why they are how they were. Were they useful? good? bad?

I've spent a lot of time looking at relics of the past and trying to determine:

I've done strange things in code to make things work. I've done strange things because I'm working with antique/legacy systems and don't have any documentation. Did that guy 10 years ago exclude 1 type of BIOS from getting a patch 6 years ago because he just didn't want to affect the company's production database server? (lazy) Or was it because he only found advice in an article online and it only used version 3.16 as an example and so that's all he copy-pasted? (fool) Or was it because at the time - patching that particular BIOS version on that type of hardware when using the Operating System/Kernel they used at the time known to cause the motherboard to puff out blue smoke and die? (good).

Just like a real archaeologist, a system/code archaeologlist seeks to understand what something is - but more importantly why something is. It takes research and caution. When Dr. Jones replaced the fertility idol with his weighted bag he did something that too often System Administrators and Engineers are tasked to do - swap out one thing for another. While our risks are less perilous than the boulder-trap, for the companies and products we support - making the wrong decision due to lack of knowledge about the situation can still be very damaging.