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I need to come up with a technical hands-on exam for a new sysadmin position in our company as part of our recruitment process. I'm looking for ideas to make an interesting exam to both check the candidates' technical aptitude but also make the job appealing to them. However the exam should only last about 1 to 2 hours so tasks can't be too much time consuming.

For each component in our stack I would like to have 2 parts:
-troubleshooting: all components will be broken to start with so the person will have to fix issues first.
-implementation: once a component is fixed I'll ask to add a feature to or optimize it

Here is our stack and the ideas I have gathered so far:
-ubuntu server 10.04 TLS: create sudo user, limit SSH access to that user, kill some zombie processes, detect rootkits
-Drupal 6 (CMS): I don't think I want to bother a sysadmin with that
-alfresco community 3.4c (data repository): ?
-solr 1.4 (search engine): setup slave replication
-MariaDB 5.1 (database server): recover root password, create database+user via the cli, have script generate many sql queries to measure performance and do some database optimization work
-iptables (firewall): remove rules preventing connectivity with various components, setup a NAT,SNAT
-nagios/munin (monitoring): create a custom plugin
-openldap (user database): recover the root password, fix the database, create new OU from an LDIF import
-apache (web server): setup a site with proxy to access alfresco and solr through SSL

Q1: Have you got ideas about interesting things to troubleshoot/implement. Sharing links to already documented problems/solutions would help me with writing the exam.

Q2: What's the best way to record the whole console output (candidates will be working over SSH)?

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closed as not constructive by John Gardeniers, Shane Madden, Ward, rnxrx, Michael Hampton Sep 8 '12 at 7:56

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Sorry if I'm being dense, but are you planning on doing this on your live system!? Or are you going to develop a whole simulation environment? – Dan Oct 26 '11 at 9:52
I think my dev. colleagues would kill me if I did that on our live system. No, I'll do that on my test box :) – Max Oct 26 '11 at 12:13
up vote 1 down vote accepted

For Q1, I think you are the most qualified one to come up with problems that can pop up in your environment. For many of your bullets I would like to ask ideas about how the candidate would do the tasks; for example, when it comes to shell access, would they use something like rssh or lshell for restrictions, would they use SELinux and so on.

The best kind of candidate not only can do what you ask them to do, but they will also have ideas how to further enhance something. OK, that can be hard to achieve in such short time, but still.

Answer to your Q2: pam_tty_audit PAM module will log every key stroke entered in shell. You can then view the report in a convenient way with aureport:

aureport --tty -ts today
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I did a shorter version of this sort of thing where the laptop they gave me was sharing its screen via VNC. The interviewers were watching from another room and said later on that they were specifically looking to see what I did when I didn't know something they asked me to do. (i.e cut-n-paste the error message into Google.) – Ladadadada Oct 26 '11 at 10:41

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