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Linux System Administrator (part time) for Democrats Abroad

Democrats Abroad seeks a part-time, remotely-based, experienced Linux Systems Administrator to manage, monitor, maintain, and plan our cloud-based systems.

Note: We are also open to contract arrangement with a company that can provide the range of services required here.

Company: Democrats Abroad. The Democratic Party Committee Abroad ("Democrats Abroad") is the overseas branch of the US Democratic Party, with members around the world. Equivalent to a state party committee for US citizens living overseas, Democrats Abroad is represented on the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and sends delegates to the Democratic Party nominating conventions. Our key mission is to help US citizens living abroad register to vote, and to encourage their support of Democratic Party candidates in US elections.

As a geographically decentralized organization, we have embraced a cloud-based architecture for our applications infrastructure. System administration can therefore be handled remotely and collaboratively, from anywhere in the world.

Job Responsibilities

Democrats Abroad ("DA") is primarily a volunteer organization without full-time, paid administrative staff or management. The organization contracts with service providers and individuals for its various needs. In the case of IT services, this includes contracts with an applications developer as well as with hosting providers and others, including this contract to be offered for system administration services. Working collaboratively with the other service providers and, most importantly, with the volunteers responsible for managing DA's technology needs (many of whom are IT professionals themselves), the system administrator will have significant autonomy in dealing with the day-to-day monitoring and maintenance of our systems and network infrastructure. The organization will also look to this person for guidance and technical leadership in developing, implementing, and documenting standard procedures, as well as in the selection and effective use of third-party tools and utilities for automated monitoring and support.

The system administrator will be responsible for "front line" support; he or she will be the first point of contact for any system-level issues affecting our mission-critical applications (membership database management, e-mail, web site, and contributions processing). He or she will be expected to identify/debug systems-related problems, communicate/consult with designated members of DA's IT committee, propose/implement solutions, and document the results.

The job also includes helping to evaluate and apply upgrades and patches to our applications and tools. As these are mostly open source, a certain amount of proactive research will be expected, such as following platform-specific blogs and user community forums.

When relevant, he or she will also assist in application debugging, for example in identifying problems caused by storage limits, file access constraints, connectivity issues, etc.

The SysAdmin will also help maintain our global test environment, advise volunteers on implementing their own local development environments, and support the process of maintaining source and version control when authorized changes are promoted to production.

Although the time needed for these tasks will vary from month to month, we estimate that the commitment required for this contract will generally be in the range of 5-10 hours per month, and will not exceed 20 hours per month other than in highly unusual circumstances. However the nature of the responsibilities is such that the system administrator should be available "on call" to respond on short notice in the event of emergencies.



The ideal candidate for this role is someone with the core skills defined below, who is motivated to utilize this job opportunity to extend his or her skill set to include the other technologies used by Democrats Abroad. Prior experience working with non-profits and/or political advocacy groups is desirable.

Core skills

  • Strong experience with Linux system administration, preferably in both Redhat-style systems and Ubuntu Debian systems, especially:
  • Basic TCP/IP networking
  • Setting up and managing user accounts
  • Deploying and configuring firewalls and other server security tools in a cloud environment
  • Good grasp of bash scripting
  • Experience deploying and maintaining systems hosted in a cloud environment (exposure to Amazon Web Services is highly preferable)
  • Strong familiarity with deploying web applications
  • PHP experience would be very helpful
  • Working familiarity with configuring the following types of servers:
  • Apache HTTP
  • Nginx
  • Postfix
  • NFS v4
  • memcached and related servers
  • MySQL server
  • Good SQL skills, preferably with MySQL

Highly desirable

  • Prior exposure to basic systems management in an Amazon Web Services (AWS) environment (setting up accounts, security groups, AWS command line tools). Although specific familiarity with AWS is not a pre-requisite, a willingness to quickly learn and spend personal (i.e. unpaid) time developing a solid competence in the Amazon environment would, alternatively, be a requirement.
  • Experience using load balancers or reverse proxy servers (e.g. Varnish or AWS ELB)
  • Experience using monitoring technologies (e.g. Nagios, New Relic, Zabbix, AWS Cloudwatch, etc.)
  • Comfortable using source control systems, preferably Git
  • Comfortable working with scripts in PHP

Nice to have

  • Familiarity with Drupal (deployment, site administration)
  • Familiarity with CiviCRM, especially CiviMail
  • Experience with auto-scaling and related technologies
  • Experience with virtualization
  • Experience with deployment technologies (e.g. Chef, Puppet, Capistrano, etc.)
  • Knowledge of other scripting languages (Python, Perl, Ruby)

Contact & Application Submission

Please submit resumes to

Link to Job Description announcement:

References will be required for all shortlisted candidates.


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