Linux Lab (Part II)

"Knock, knock. Are you running the Linux lab?"

Claire had stuck her head through my open office door. I knew Claire (name changed, I am too embarassed to admit I forgot hers) as she was working at Bond University on some sort of marketing projects. If you know what I mean. Well, I actually don't know what it means.

But she was referring to the room opposite my office.

  • Yes, we just finished the web server course for the trimester.

That day I was pretty exhausted as all students just had submitted their assignments. Managing the course, creating new content while organizing the new lab had been stressful.

I had followed up Cathy Murray's pointer to acquire machines for the lab and saw The Man aka Chris Christoff aka the Bond IT manager. Chris was quite reserved when I told him about the idea to build a dedicated subnetwork behind a firewall. But I won him over with statements like these:

  • "Gna, students cannot be trusted."
  • "The whole Bond network is full of very strange (read: Windows infected) traffic."
  • "Probably the firewall is protecting the lab more from Bond, rather than the other way round."

And having a German accent helps too.

At least I learnt an important Bond-thing in the meeting with Chris Christoff: For everyone but the academics themselves, Bond University academics default to imbecile invertebrates. I have my theories why this is so.

So I had bought some stuff for the lab as I did not want to wade through the official channels: Networking equipment, Linux distros, books, and a couple of floor lamps from Ikea. No, the room did not have its own light switch. This is Australia, remember?

But it was worth it. The kids' eyes glistened when they saw the first time the inside of a machine (really) and then built a whole web server from scratch.

Claire cleared her throat:

I have been sent to say that the cables on the floor are very dangerous. Someone might trip over them.

Indeed two Ethernet cables were running from one side of the room to the other, tightly attached to the floor.

  • Hmm, I could cut them in the middle, but then they would not work so well. Or, I could have ripped out the carpet to put the cables underneath, but then I'm not sure how the building management would have reacted.
Well, I do not care how you do it but the cables have to go. The Vice Chancellor does not like the way how the lab is run.

She left.

It took me 26 minutes, 45 seconds to completely dismantle everything, put everything back into the boxes and moved all into a storeroom. I left not a single trace.

One week later Claire was back.

Where is the lab gone?
  • "What lab?"
That lab opposite your office. We talked some time ago.
  • Uhm ... there ... has never been a lab.

I frowned, shook my head, stood up and walked over with her to look at the room.

  • See?

She scrutinized me, but I did not give away any signs.

  • Maybe you are confusing this with another room?

She was suspicious, but did not know what to say. So she left. I have not talked to her since.

Here is an important lesson for you if you want to operate successfully with me: Robert giveth. Robert taketh.

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