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To those who are System Administrators...


How would you recommend getting a job in this field to someone who is young and has little experience?

Here is where I am at:

-Recent grad with a Bachelors degree in Management Information Systems from a university with a solid reputation

-I have done some basic coding over the years, but do not have the passion or desire to make a career out of straight up writing code

-I have used computers since I was a kid, and have loved virtually every minute of it. However, Windows has always been my primary OS with a somewhat recent switch to OS X

-Unfortunately, my interaction with Windows has mostly been through the GUI and I am not used to using command prompt for more than a handful of things

-I would consider myself tech savvy and have a strong interest in computers and other gadgets

-I have no problem being labeled a nerd. In high school, I spent plenty of time hosting and participating in LAN parties and still prefer PC gaming over console

-I am not socially retarded. Most of the time, I enjoy people. From what little experience I have had with an IT job, one of my favorite parts is being able to effectively match technology with the needs of an organization and the people who will be using it

As far as Linux goes:

-For various reasons, I am pretty much a complete noob when it comes to Linux

-I recently got a new laptop, which opens up my desktop that I built six years ago for messing around in Linux. Specs of the old computer are: Athlon64 X2 3800+, 2 GB DDR 400 RAM, 2 WD Raptors in RAID 0, nVidia GeForce 7800 GTX

-So far, all I have done is install Ubuntu along side a previous Windows 7 installation (which I might switch to a Windows server installation because I only have a small amount of experience with that also)

-I am thinking now that I might be better off installing Fedora just because I have heard most companies use Red Hat Enterprise Linux

Some other questions:

Where should I start?

Any good tutorials you would recommend?

Everyone was a noob at some point, how did you attain your vast Linux knowledge?

What other Linux or system administrator related forums/websites do you enjoy?

Feel free to move this post as I was not 100% sure where it fit.

Thank you for your help and ideas!


  • atreyu
    atreyu Posts: 216
    You are on the right track with getting Linux installed on your old desktop. Now make the thing useful. Some relatively easy but crucial things to do might be:

    1. figure out how (software) package management works on your particular Linux distro, whatever it is, and update your system

    2. make sure all your attached peripherals are working correctly (USB peripherals, audio, network, video - that one is easy to tell if it is working or not!)

    3. network the PCs in your house together (if you haven't already) or at least your laptop and desktop, if that is all you have

    4. set up and configure some network services (Apache Web Server, NFS/Samba file sharing, printing, etc.) and see if you can access them via your laptop (or other)

    5. configure default applications for file types (how to open .doc, .pdf, etc.)

    That's just a start, but that is plenty of things for someone new to Linux to get going with...

    and keep checking here!

    good luck.


    I forgot - some websites I try to check daily...
    The articles at these sites range between n00b and expert level, so if you keep looking, you're bound to find something worthwhile.
    For trouble-shooting I use (besides here): http://www.fedoraforum.org
    i'll also join the mailing list of some groups, too, as sometimes that is the best way to get input

    one other thing I forgot to mention is, if you want to learn a little about more about how Linux services operate, or you just want to familiarize yourself more with Bash scripting, then check out the scripts in /etc/init.d/ or /etc/rc.d/init.d/ (if you're on Fedora/Red Hat-based distros anyway, not sure where they are on other distros).
  • brunewarren
    you know, just recently I have been asking the same questions. Take a look on DVD training from unixacademy
    I believe their training is exactly what makes a good start. It was recommended to me by a person who is linux and unix administrator in our company. I'm currently on first half of the first part of training and learned few commands already.
  • jabirali
    jabirali Posts: 157
    Everyone was a noob at some point, how did you attain your vast Linux knowledge?
    Most of my experience came from experimenting with new software and configuration files, breaking something, and then googling for some way to fix it. When you break the system enough times, you recognize the symptoms when something similar goes wrong in the future, and usually know approximately what caused it, how to troubleshoot and how to fix it when the problem is located.

    I'm not a professional system administrator, and don't study computer science. I've had a couple of summer jobs as an assisting system administrator, but except that, I'm just a hobbyist - and might not know the job market as well as other people in this thread. I do however know of some useful software for administrative purposes, and will list some of it below.
    [ul][li]Puppet - an OS-independent configuration management tool that should make life easier if you need to administer multiple machines. It works with Unix, Linux and Windows.[/li]
    [li]GlusterFS - this is basically to networked servers what RAID is to harddrives. It allows you to organize your networked storage server into a sort of storage cloud, in order to increase speed/reliability (AFR) and storage capacity (distribute).[/li]
    [li]Pkgsync - a system for central configuration of which packages should be installed on Debian/Ubuntu machines. You group packages into mayhave and musthave - any missing package in musthave will be automatically installed on all machines with pkgsync enabled, and any package not in mayhave or musthave will be automatically removed on these machines.[/li]
    [li]Version control systems in general are worth knowing if you're planning to work in an environment with many programmers. Subversion seems to be the most used these days; I personally prefer git though, and the older CVS is still in active use. There are also lots of other systems in use lots of other version control systems (bazar, mercurial, etc), but knowing one of them should be a good start.[/li]
    [li]OpenSSH - is one of the most used programs for a Linux/Unix system administrator, as it allows you to remote control all your servers over an encrypted connection. If you're not already familiar with it, google for a guide ;)[/li]
  • saqman2060
    saqman2060 Posts: 777
    I began learning linux a 2 years ago when I decided that windows wasn't enough to really master it. There was not training classes I took or lots of books bought or read. Basically, What I learned about the system is what I was able to google. Plus, I joined forums and other sites that are completely based around linux. There you meet people who know linux, in and out and are willing to teach you. From my experience, the linux community is always willing to help.

    Since you've experience in windows, apply the same fundementals to linux. Windows and linux strive to accomplish the same thing, they just do it differently. Plus, any system that you have, learn the ends and outs of it by digging into is core and hacking. Join its forum sites as this will allow you to ask questions and get reasonable results.

    Check out is repositories, and research the type of software it uses. What you did in windows do in linux, in linux standards.
    This is how I'm learning linux. The learning curve may be steep at first. Once you accomplish a few tasks, you are motivated to go further. Gather any and all resources you can find, and tinker, tinker, tinker. If you are feeling really confident, assist in voluntary work. This will gets you experience in the job market.

    We were all noobs to linux at first. Everybody learns differently. You started in the right place. All you have to do it keep researching and unraveling.

    Best of luck.


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