An Interview with a Recovering Site Reliability Engineer by@tylerjl

An Interview with a Recovering Site Reliability Engineer

Tyler Langlois is a recovering SRE who has been operating Linux systems in one form or another since before he had his drivers’ license. He’s currently taking a crack at freelance writing and consulting to find whether he can go at it solo and still make enough money to not starve. He wrote [20,000 Leagues Under Your Shell] which is just a collection of small low-level tricks for Linux systems. He once wrote a guide to ssh that made it to the number one story at Hacker News.
image
Tyler HackerNoon profile picture

Tyler

Devops/SRE, software engineering, and lots of time spent at the shell. Freelance consultant and technical writer.


So let’s start! Tell us a bit about yourself. For example, name, profession, and personal interests.

I’m Tyler Langlois and I’m a recovering SRE.


I’ve been operating Linux systems in one form or another since before I had my drivers’ license, from salvaged discarded servers in my closet to large datacenters. My most recent professional work has been a kaleidoscope of operational engineering, software engineering, management, and writing. I’m currently taking some time to take a crack at freelance writing and consulting to find whether I can go at it solo and still make enough money to not starve.


I decompress with a few hobbies like birdwatching and gardening, but the reality is that I’m a profoundly boring person and like to clock out from working on and writing about systems in order to head into my homelab in order to work on and write about systems some more.

Interesting! What was your latest Hackernoon Top story about?

I wrote 20,000 Leagues Under Your Shell which is just a collection of small low-level tricks for Linux systems. I’ve found that lots of people tend to collect esoteric knowledge that ends up locked away in their heads for a rainy day, and sharing a few of those that have stuck in my mind felt like a useful exercise.

Do you usually write on similar topics? If not, what do you usually write about?

“Interesting content about Linux internals” is probably my favorite topic, but I’ve sort of been all over the place. I’ve written for sysadvent, opensource.com, Linode, DigitalOcean, and my own blog, and the topics vary pretty widely, from “how to use journals” to “how to run a Terraria server”. I once wrote a guide to ssh that made it to the number one story at Hacker News, complete with angry commenters telling me that I was using ssh wrong, so I’ve been able to fully enjoy the wide range of feedback on the Internet.

Great! What is your usual writing routine like (if you have one?)

I’m a Luddite, so I author almost all of my content within emacs (specifically, spacemacs) using org-mode in order to easily track my time, execute code snippets, and export my content in whatever format the outlet that I’m working on with expects copy in. I try and write as inefficiently as possible, so I avoid headphones (so I can hear my two-year-old screaming in the background), with a stream or podcast on another monitor, and with Twitter and Slack ready to interrupt me at a moment’s notice. I can only imagine what kind of superhuman efficiency I’ll unlock if I ever practice writing discipline like an actual professional, but I’m a masochist.

What is the next thing you hope to achieve in your career?

Technical writing blends the opportunity to learn new tools and topics, operate independently, and get words out on paper, which I really enjoy, so amplifying that further into something like an actual physical technical book sounds like something I’d love to achieve. Holding a book in my hands that I wrote about a topic that I’m passionate about would be supremely satisfying.

Wow, that’s admirable. Now, something more casual: What is your guilty pleasure of choice?

Working on my homelab servers without any sort of configuration management.

Do you have a non-tech-related hobby? If yes, what is it?

I came close to studying ornithology in college because I have a keen interest in birds, which I’ve scaled back to just occasional birdwatching, feeding the local birds in our area, and seeking out rare species I haven’t spotted before. I’ve contaminated my son with the urge to look for birds, and he can reliably identify species in our neighborhood by their calls alone, which I’m pretty proud of.

What can the Hacker Noon community expect to read from you next?

There’s some leading-edge tools out there that I wished more people knew about and used like ZFS on Linux and nix that I’d like to write about. The more people that use some of these compelling projects, the more attention they get and hopefully additional support as well.

Thanks for taking the time to join our “Meet the writer” series. It was a pleasure. Do you have any closing words?

First, feel free to reach out to me if there’s a topic that you’re interested in that you’d like to read about. I mentioned my growing drafts folder, but that’s just because I’m not sure what people would enjoy reading! Any feedback is helpful.


Second, everyone should do a little technical writing themselves. Apart from sharing your knowledge which benefits the community as a whole, I’ve had numerous opportunities open up for me because of my technical writing and blogging, and you can, too.

react to story with heart
react to story with light
react to story with boat
react to story with money
Tyler HackerNoon profile picture
by Tyler @tylerjl.Devops/SRE, software engineering, and lots of time spent at the shell. Freelance consultant and technical writer.
Read my stories
L O A D I N G
. . . comments & more!