In 1346, Europe was hit by the worst natural disaster
in its recorded history: the Black Death. Generally
believed to be a combination of bubonic plague and two
other plague strains, the Black Death ravaged the length and
breadth of Europe from Sicily to Norway, from Ireland to Russia,
for five terrible years. Scholars can only speculate regarding
how many people perished in the lethal pandemic, which
also swept across parts of western Asia and North Africa during
the late 1340s and early 1350s. Most historians, however,
agree that the Black Death killed anywhere from 33 to 60
percent of Europe’s total population—roughly 25 million to 45
million men, women, and children. (A pandemic is a disease
outbreak that affects a large geographical area and a high percentage
of the population.)
The lives of system administrators and operations staff often revolve around a series of repetitive tasks: configuring hosts, creating users, and managing applications, daemons, and services. Often these tasks are repeated many times in the life cycle of one host, from building to decommissioning, and as new configuration is added or...
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