Cover V11, I07




I've received some early results from Sys Admin magazine's most recent editorial survey. As I've mentioned in the past, we do not use an external service to perform this survey; we mail them and tally the responses ourselves.

Overall, the survey results were gratifying in that we seem to be providing the information readers are looking for. The responses indicated that the technical level of articles is right on target. They also indicated that we provide an appropriate amount of coverage of readers' favorite topics, which are: security, performance tuning, scripting, and OS-specific administration. User account maintenance and integration articles are of less interest. Specifically, for the second year in a row, respondents found Amy Rich's Q&A column the most useful of all the regular features in the magazine.

Readers are supporting more users than previously. 22% responded that they now support 100 or more users, and 32% (up from 23% last year) support more than 500. The most widely administered UNIX operating systems are (in order): Linux (mainly Red Hat), Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, BSD (mainly Free BSD), MacOS X, Irix, and Tru64. Some of the duties that fall within readers' job descriptions are: security, systems installation, programming/development, education, database administration, management, Web administration, and engineering and design.

We asked how often readers program in various languages. 94% program in shell; 79% program in Perl; 51% program in C/C++; 33% write Tcl/Tk programs; and 28% program in Java. Other languages used are PHP, Expect, Fortran, and COBOL.

Many of the write-in answers requested larger issues with fewer ads. Note that a symbiotic relationship exists here -- the ads in Sys Admin and its supplements directly support our ability to provide editorial content. Thus, more advertising means more articles.

Respondents liked the "conciseness", "technical depth", "variety", and "very specific information" provided within the magazine. There were many requests for more Perl coverage. Those readers who don't use Solaris would like to see less Solaris coverage. Suggestions for making the magazine more useful included: "more product reviews", "more code examples", "OS-specific columns", "dating tips", and just plain "more" of everything.

One survey question asked a) whether you subscribe to the Sys Admin email newsletter, and b) if yes, how useful you find it. Interestingly, 96% of respondents currently do not subscribe. Those that do, however, generally find it useful. The monthly email newsletter provides a preview of the issue -- allowing subscribers to read the feature article and columns before the print issue arrives in the mail. If you're not familiar with our newsletter, please check it out. You can subscribe through the Sys Admin Web site at:

I thank all of you who took the time to respond to this survey, and I invite those of you who did not receive one to email your comments, complaints, and suggestions to me. I'll consider them all -- I doubt that dating column will happen though. I'm sure there are more qualified sources out there.

Sincerely yours,

Amber Ankerholz
Editor in Chief