Simplifying an Online Presence

It is amazing how many small commitments and fragments of an online presence you can collect over years of being involved in different projects and user groups. I’ve ended up hosting planets, user group sites, submission forms (and other scripts), managing twitter announcement accounts, pushing tar balls (don’t ask) and running (and owning) more domains than I could ever really want or do anything useful with. After an initial audit of how difficult it’d be to move some of my public servers I’ve realised that something has to change.

I’ve decided to take a deliberate step back and reduce my involvement in a number of projects, and my general online footprint, to levels that are comfortable and maintainable while leaving me enough time to get involved in some newer projects, technology and groups that are relevant to me. Although I slowly began the cleaning process a few months ago, initially by transferring domains and in some cases even deleting websites and removing their DNS, there’s still quite a lot of cruft to trim.

Like most full time sysadmins my personal systems, which thanks to Debian and Bytemark have been in use for many years and in place release upgrades, are a lot more disorderly, and manual, than I’d accept at work or even in my home lab. A clean up like this seems to be the perfect time to move to newer, more appropriate, platforms like nginx and puppet modules (yes I have puppet code that predates modules) and replace custom nagios wrapping with serverspec and such. Some of the evolved configurations with dozens of complicated edge cases are going to be difficult to migrate and I’m trying to bring myself to just kill a number of them, even if it leaves certain links now dead. This site ( will probably be one of the biggest victims of this.

What have I learned from this audit and clean up? First, don’t make open ended commitments. As an example I run one site for a group that I’ve not even attended for over 6 years. Secondly I no longer have the free time I once did and so it has to count for more. I need to get more proactive about handing things off that I’m no longer passionate about.