Cover V09, I09



As I mentioned in last month’s syslog, I recently attended the Usenix Annual Technical Conference in San Diego. This is the 25th anniversary of Usenix (, and I thought the invited talk track was particularly interesting this year. It featured a keynote address by Bill Joy, invited talks by Avi Rubin, Rob Pike, Miguel de Icaza, Edward Felten, Jim Gettys, and others, and a closing presentation by Thomas Dolby Robertson.

Avi Rubin discussed email security threats. He said he is frequently asked whether security threats are really widespread and serious. In a word, his answer is yes. Rubin gave an entertaining history of email viruses, starting with the Morris worm and ending with recent variants of the ILOVEYOU virus. Rubin compared the risk of viruses that destroy data when you open an email message to the risk of having your toaster blow up every time you answer the phone. Jim Gettys gave an overview of the history of X. He compared its “open source-like” development to that of current open source projects and lamented that the Internet at the time wasn’t able to support the scale of development seen today. A more complete account of this year’s Usenix Technical Conference is available on the Web site:

In other Usenix-related news, the most recent SAGE salary survey is now available from: You can download the .pdf file with your Usenix membership number/password or register online and receive a copy via email. Some results are also reported by Peg Schafer in the June issue of ;login. Here are a few highlights. Overall, there were 2,314 respondents working in 48 countries. For U.S. systems administrators, the mean salary was $64,271. Mean salaries were lower in areas outside the United States, particularly in Eastern Europe/Western Asia. For U.S. administrators, the average 1999 pay increase, without changing job duties or employers, was 7.9%; with a change of job duties, the increase was 14.9%; and with a change of employer, 23.3%.

Salary was also positively related to years of experience for U.S. systems administrators. Those with 2 years or less experience averaged less than $50,000 annually; those with 3-10 years experience averaged between $50,000 and $60,000; those with 11-14 years averaged between $70,000 and $75,000, and those with 15 or more years averaged more than $76,000. Interestingly, the number of operating systems supported (average 4.7) was not related to pay, but the flavor was. Those working with Solaris, BSDI, and HP-UX tended to have significantly higher salaries, while those working with FreeBSD, MacOS (non-UNIX), OpenBSD, or DOS/Win3.1 tended to have lower salaries. About a third of the respondents (34.5%) were certified for a particular operating system. I look forward to hearing your comments about the survey or other matters.

Sincerely yours,
Amber Ankerholz