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Release It!, 2nd Edition by Michael T. Nygard

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Steady State

The third edition of Roget’s Thesaurus offers the following definition for the word fiddling: “To handle something idly, ignorantly, or destructively.” It offers helpful synonyms such as fool, meddle, tamper, tinker, and monkey. Fiddling is often followed by the “ohnosecond”—that very short moment in time during which you realize that you have pressed the wrong key and brought down a server, deleted vital data, or otherwise damaged the peace and harmony of stable operations.

Every single time a human touches a server is an opportunity for unforced errors. I know of one incident in which an engineer, attempting to be helpful, observed that a server’s root disk mirror was out of sync. He executed a command to “resilver” the mirror, ...

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