We’ve started work on a new help system at work. The old one uses a CMS from 2001 and we all loathe it. “Updating the help files” is the least popular task of each release. We’ve had enough; we’re starting afresh with Drupal.

So I’ve spent today setting up a Linux VPS, configuring the web server, installing Drupal and all sorts of plugin modules for it. And it’s a painful experience. Every step I take is based on something Google tells me. I have no feeling for what I’m doing, no intuition as to whether it’s dangerous or not. So with every other step, I’m wondering – if I get this wrong, how much of the system will blow up?. How wrong am I allowed to get my changes in httpd.conf before the web server will stop responding at all?

It gives me an all new perspective on what it must feel like to be an inexperienced computer user. Afraid to click on anything, afraid to change a setting, just in case they make the computer blow up.

Another perspective on this is if it hurts do it more often. It was not meant quite in this sense originally but it still makes sense. Unfortunately it’s very rare that I have a meaningful need to tinker with Linux sysadmin tasks or web server settings.