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About slightly more than a year ago I started volunteering at the local general students committee. They desperately searched for someone playing the role of both political head of division as well as the system administrator, for around half a year before I took the job.

When I started the data center was mostly abandoned with most of the computational power and resources just laying around unused. They already ran some kvm-hosts with around 6 virtual machines, including a cloud service, internally used shared storage, a user directory and also 10 workstations and a WiFi-Network. Everything except one virtual machine ran on GNU/Linux-systems and was built on open source technology. The administration was done through shared passwords, bash-scripts and instructions in an extensive MediaWiki instance.

My introduction into this whole eco-system was basically this:
"Ever did something with linux before? Here you have the logins - have fun. Oh, and please don't break stuff. Thank you!"

Since I had only managed a small personal server before and learned stuff about networking, it-sec and administration only from courses in university I quickly shaped a small team eager to build great things which would bring in the knowledge necessary to create something awesome. We had a lot of fun diving into modern technologies, discussing the future of this infrastructure and simply try out and fail hard while implementing those ideas.

Today, a year and a half later, we look at around 40 virtual machines spiced with a lot of magic. We host several internal and external services like cloud, chat, ticket-system, websites, blog, notepad, DNS, DHCP, VPN, firewall, confluence, freifunk (free network mesh), ubuntu mirror etc. Everything is managed through a central puppet-configuration infrastructure. Changes in configuration are deployed in minutes across all servers. We utilize docker for application deployment and gitlab for code management. We provide incremental, distributed backups, a central database and a distributed network across the campus. We created a desktop workstation environment based on Ubuntu Server for deployment on bare-metal machines through the foreman project. Almost everything free and open source.

The whole system now is easily configurable, allows updating, maintenance and deployment of old and new services. We reached our main goal for this year which was the creation of a documented environment which is maintainable by one administrator.

Although we did this in our free-time without any payment it was a great year with a lot of experience which pays off now.

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