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New elected admins

The chronological process of becoming an admin usually looks very similar each year. There are some important things you should know.

Remember, being a SysAdmin for the society is not a job, it is a volunteered task you sign up to - don't stress yourself out over it, have fun, and hopefully learn a thing or two. : )


Admin Exam

Anyone wishing to run and be elected as a SysAdmin must complete a technical exam as an assessment of your knowledge and competency in solving some of the many problems that will be thrown at you.

You can find some archives of past exams here, however note that these vary year to year as they are created each year by the currently elected admins.

Election at AGM

At the annual general meeting, you may nominate yourself, or have someone nominate you to run for SysAdmin. You may only run if you have passed the Admin exam.

The amount of admins per year is usually three, to be elected, you must be in the top three voted members.


If you are successfully elected - congrats! We welcome you to this pain joy filled journey :)

After being elected it is your time to learn the ropes and become familiar with the technicalities of Redbrick.

Not alone of course! The previous Admins will assist you on this journey and be there to answer any of your questions, along with this documentation.

Post-powercut Todo List

A list of things that should be done/checked immediately after a power cut:

  • Check KVM, hit ctrl+D on minerva to make sure it boots.
  • Check KVM, hit F1 on sprout to make sure it boots
  • Check KVM, sometimes you need to press F1 on carbon for it to boot
  • Stop Exim on the mail server (Morpheus) until minerva (NFS) is online.
  • If LDAP is down, you'll need to use the ALOM to do the next step.
  • Check that ldapclient started (svcs -xv). If it didn't, run svcadm clear ldap/client to make it start. This usually happens because murphy comes back before morpheus does, and the LDAP client won't start due to lack of an LDAP server.
  • Apache is stupid and tries to start before networking is finished starting. To fix it, disable/re-enable it a few times. This usually makes it turn on.


Familiarise yourself with the layout of the following. Bookmarking the page is also a good shout. NixOS documentation

Who is NixOS and what does he do

NixOS is a distribution of linux that is focused on having a config-first operating system to run services. The advantages of such an approach are the following:

  • Files dictate how an installation is set up, and as such, can be versioned and tracked in your favorite VCS.
  • New configs can be tested, and safely rolled back.
  • Can be used for both physical and virtual machines in the same way.

Further reading on this can be found on the about page.

Being an admin: NixOS and you

There's a couple of things you'll need to do before you get started with NixOS First and foremost is to get set up to contribute to the Redbrick nix-configs repo.

Depending on the powers that be, some sort of normal pr contribution will be acceptable, if you have access a branch is appropriate, in all other cases make a fork and pr back to Redbrick's repo. This will be case by case for those of you reading.

Here's a quick hit list of stuff that's worthy of book marking also as you work with Nix:

Nix is pretty small as an OS so setting yourself up a node, either as a home server, or as a VM is a solid way to practice how stuff works in an actual environment and lets you work independantly of Redbrick. A service you configure at home should be able to run on Redbrick, and vice versa.

Getting set up to start deploying stuff

The first step is to navigate to the ssh service config in the nix-config repo here.

Make a pull request asking to add the PUBLIC KEY of your ssh key pait to the config file. The best thing to do is to copy the previous line and modify it to contain your details instead. At time of writing, it is expected for you to generate a ssh-ed25519 key. This is subject to change with new cryprographic standards.

Once this is done, contact one of the currently set up users to pull and reload the given machines and you'll have access right away using the accompanying key.


This is a mirror of: Redbrick cmt Wiki entry

Channel Modes

It's easy to bugger up the channel with the MODE command, so here's a nice copied and pasted summary of how to use it:

  • /mode {channel} +b {nick|address} - ban somebody by nickname or address mask (nick!account@host)
  • /mode {channel} +i - channel is invite-only
  • /mode {channel} +l {number} - channel is limited, with {number} users allowed maximal
  • /mode {channel} +m - channel is moderated, only chanops and others with 'voice' can talk/mode {channel} +n external /MSGs to channel are not allowed.
  • /mode {channel} +p - channel is private
  • /mode {channel} +s - channel is secret
  • /mode {channel} +t topic - limited, only chanops may change it
  • /mode {channel} +o {nick} - makes {nick} a channel operator
  • /mode {channel} +v {nick} - gives {nick} a voice
Other Commands

Basically what you'll be using is:

  • To kick someone: /kick username
  • To ban someone: /mode #lobby +b username
  • To set the topic: /topic #lobby whatever
  • To op someone: /mode #lobby +o someone
  • To op two people: /mode #lobby +oo someone someone_else


  • To kick someone: /k username
  • To ban someone: /ban username
  • To unban someone: /unban username
  • To set the topic: /t whatever
  • To op someone: /op someone
  • To op two people: /op someone someone_else
  • To deop someone: /deop someone
Sysop specific commands

These commands can only be run by sysops (i.e. admins in the ircd config file).

  • Enter BOFH mode (required for all sysop commands): /oper
  • Peer to another server*: /sconnect <node name>
  • Drop a peer with another server: /squit <node name>
  • Force op yourself (do not abuse): /quote opme <channel name>
  • Barge into a channel uninvited (again, do not abuse): /quote ojoin #channel
  • Barge into a channel uninvited with ops (same again): /quote ojoin @#channel
  • Force someone to join a channel: /quote forcejoin nick #channel
  • Kill someone: /kill <username> <smartassed kill messsage>
  • Ban someone from this server: /kline <username> (there may be more params on this)
  • Ban someone from the entire network: /gline <username> (there may be more params on this)

(thanks to atlas for the quick overview)

  • Don't try connect to intersocs. Due to crazy endian issues or something they have to connect to us.

It has now become a slight problem with so many bots 'littering' #lobby that anyone wishing to add a new bot to the channel must request permission from the Committee. The main feature wanted is a time limit on bot commands.


The IRC services run by Trinity for all the netsocs. The two services are NickServ and ChanServ.

  • /msg NickServ HELP
  • /msg ChanServ HELP

for more details.

Redbrick System Administrator Policies

The purpose of this is to brief new Redbrick system administrators on the current setup, policies and practices in place and to serve as the place to record all such information for current and future administrators.

Admin Account Priviliges

  • By default, all admin accounts will remain the same as the rest of the committee.
  • Each admin will recieve a local account on each machine that will be in the root group. This allows you to log on if ldap goes down.
  • Accounts should not be placed into any other 'system' or priviliged accounts (e.g. pgsql, mail, news, etc.) but by all accounts (hah, bad pun!) can be placed into useful groups (e.g. cvs, webgroup, helpdesk etc.)

Root account

When su'ing to root, please observe the following:

  • Wait for the password prompt before typing in the password! Sometimes lag/terminal freezes or whatever can kick in. The other classic mistake is typing the password in place of the username (say for a console login).
  • Make sure LOGNAME is set to your unix name. The linux boxes will prompt you for this. On OpenBSD you can use 'su -m' to keep the environment.
  • Don't change the root account/finger information!
  • If you wish to use another shell, place customisations in your own file. For bash, /root/.bash_profile.<USERNAME> and for zsh /root/.zshrc.<USERNAME>.

/root/.zshrc and /root/.bash_profile source in the appropriate file as long as $LOGNAME is set right (see above). Do not put personal customisations into the default root account setup, remember other people have to use it.

Common aliases can be put in /root/.profile, familiarise yourself with the existing ones, they can come in handy.

  • Please keep /root tidy. Don't leave stuff strewn about the place!
  • Make sure to check permissions and ownership on files you work on constantly especially files with important or sensitive information in them (e.g. always use cp -p when copying stuff about).
  • Only use root account when absolutely necessary. Many admin tasks can be done or tested first as a regular user.


Couple of things to look out for:

  • killall command, never ever use it!
  • Alias cp, mv & rm with the -i option.
  • If you're ever unsure, don't! Ask another admin or check the docs.
  • Always always double check commands before firing them off!

Admin Mailing Lists (Postorius)

  • All accounts in the root group must be on the admin mailing list and vice versa. Admins who leave/join the root group must be added/removed from the list respectively.
  • Elected Admins should also be on the elected-admins list. This address is mainly used for mail to PayPal, user renewals, registration, and general administration tasks.
  • It is the responsibility of the Elected Admins to ensure that all mailing lists (committee, helpdesk, webmaster, elected-admins, admins, etc) are all up-to-date.

Admin Account Responsibilities

As an adminisitrator, your new local account has extra priviliges (namely being in the root group). For this reason, you should not run any untrusted or unknown programs or scripts.

If you must, and source code is available you should check it before running it. Compile your own versions of other user's programs you use regularly. It is far too easy for other users to trojan your account in this manner and get root.

Do not use passwordless ssh keys on any of your accounts. When using an untrusted workstation (i.e. just about any PC in DCU!) always check for keyloggers running on the local machine and never use any non system or non personal copies of PuTTY/ssh - there's no way of knowing if they have been trojaned.

General Responsibilities

Look after and regularly monitor all systems, network, hardware and user requests (ones that fall outside of helpdesk's realm, of course!).

Actively ensure system and network security. We can't police all user accounts and activities, but basic system security is paramount! Keep uptodate with bugtraq/securityfocus etc. Check system logs regularly, process listings, network connections, disk usage, etc.


All downtime must be scheduled and notified to the members well in advance by means of motd & announce. If it's really important, a mail to announce-redbrick and socials post may be necessary.

All unexpected/unscheduled downtime (as a result of a crash or as an emergency precaution) must be explained to the members as soon as possible after the system is brought back. A post to announce, notice in motd or possibly a mail to committee/admins is sufficient.

When performing a shutdown, start the shutdown 5 or 10 minutes in advance of the scheduled shutdown time to give people a chance to logout. It may also be useful to disable logins at this stage with a quick explanation in /etc/nologin.


Please read all the documentation before you do anything, but remember that the docs aren't complete and are sometimes out of date. Please update them as you go :D

Last update: 2023-10-11