Forensic SysAdmin

I had to adjust the default mail on a Moodle system that I switched from one domain to another. I changed it last in August of 2015 and apparently forgot how it worked. So today I am going to mention that forensic sysadmin work, or finding configuration files is a real challenge.

Yes, I have made copies of all of the configuration files and ended them in a TLA of my initials and yet when I ran locate I forgot or chose not to run updatedb and well, it isn’t in cron anymore as I rarely search for anything and it uses less power to not catalog repeatedly.

Having not found anything appropriate with my initials, although the file was actually there, I proceeded to work for hours on every single configuration setting in Moodle as well as every Moodle post on email I could stomach.

Nagging in the back of my mind was the fact that this year I eliminated ALL of the cruft on Moodle by simply starting it from scratch and as I kept a record of every change I made, I thought I could find it. I kept focusing on the OAuth configuration as I was using GMail.

Just before shutting the server off for the year, truly, I stopped to think through the architecture and realized I had to be using native Linux mail, that I always choose Postfix and a quick search indicated I was configured to use GMail’s less secure method of authenticated SMTP. I made the changes and everything worked great.

I held up this post to decide on how to explain what to do correctly. I had hoped for inspiration about documentation, or flow charting processes. The issue is that I simply don’t perform the same amount of sysadmin work I used to, which was enormous, so recalling all the bits and pieces and troubleshooting it, was more work than expected.

I am glad I did it, it reactivated a confidence in my skills and an awareness of troubleshooting steps and an entire plethora of interconnected systems that I would have forgotten about otherwise.

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