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deadcow 02-06-2013 04:01 AM

career advice and misc
 
Hi everyone ! I'm a cisco engineer and a bit of a networking aficionado. I'm certified in ccna , ccnp , ccip , ccie (half way through) and I owned and operated a small ISP (1500 users) a couple of years back. After selling the company I blew the money traveling the world with my bike and generally spending it all on alcohol and women. So now I find myself in quite a predicament since I really like adventure and I'm not used being behind a desk for 9 hours a day. The problem I'm having is that most contracts/jobs in places I would like to go (eg Africa) don't require me to implement L3 MPLS vpn's , tcp intercept , glbp ,zbf or qos but be the jack of all trades. So I decided to learn some Linux. Is that a good choice since I don't want to learn scripting , programming and web page design , just networking stuff. Is it possible for me put that into practice without coding in python or becoming a guru in mysql because I have no interest in being a system administrator or a programmer (and I hate working with users :p) .
Also I started reading the LPI materials and it kind of bummed me. I can't wait to get into tcpdump , iptables and all that but I really don't want to learn apache. It just doesn't sound all that cool to me.
So what I'm asking you gentleman is if pursuing knowledge in linux networking is a good career choice or should I just continue learning enterprise stuff like F5 load balancing and all that ? Is Open Source/Cisco a good combo ? Thanks in advance.

TB0ne 02-06-2013 09:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deadcow (Post 4885367)
Hi everyone ! I'm a cisco engineer and a bit of a networking aficionado. I'm certified in ccna , ccnp , ccip , ccie (half way through) and I owned and operated a small ISP (1500 users) a couple of years back. After selling the company I blew the money traveling the world with my bike and generally spending it all on alcohol and women. So now I find myself in quite a predicament since I really like adventure and I'm not used being behind a desk for 9 hours a day. The problem I'm having is that most contracts/jobs in places I would like to go (eg Africa) don't require me to implement L3 MPLS vpn's , tcp intercept , glbp ,zbf or qos but be the jack of all trades. So I decided to learn some Linux. Is that a good choice since I don't want to learn scripting , programming and web page design , just networking stuff. Is it possible for me put that into practice without coding in python or becoming a guru in mysql because I have no interest in being a system administrator or a programmer (and I hate working with users :p) .
Also I started reading the LPI materials and it kind of bummed me. I can't wait to get into tcpdump , iptables and all that but I really don't want to learn apache. It just doesn't sound all that cool to me.
So what I'm asking you gentleman is if pursuing knowledge in linux networking is a good career choice or should I just continue learning enterprise stuff like F5 load balancing and all that ? Is Open Source/Cisco a good combo ? Thanks in advance.

Well, based on what you posted...no, it isn't. You say you don't want to learn any scripting or programming, and want to focus on "networking stuff". Linux is a COMPUTER OS...that is, unless you get into how the programs WORK on the system, there isn't a whole lot to do (aside from network configuration, which isn't a lot). There isn't a whole lot of call for folks to JUST do load balancing, while ignoring the rest of the system.

And if you don't want to be at a desk working all day, how do you think you'll be able to make a living working with Linux (or ANY computer related stuff), since it requires you to be at a terminal at the very least? You could work part time, but again, if you don't want to learn anything about a system except for one NARROW piece of it, do you think you'll get many jobs, when the people you're competing against DO have more knowledge?? As a former business owner, would YOU have hired someone who said "I only want to work with this one thing, and I hate users"?

deadcow 02-06-2013 10:06 AM

Most definitely not ! :) I'm sorry if I sounded a bit dismissive earlier it's just that I'm ignorant about the subject in question. Thanks for replying. Let me put it this way then : do you think that if I study hard for 6-9 months , get my LPI 2 and a MCSA I could set up small networks from top to bottom ? Networks is not the right word : shops. I'm asking because I have no idea what a small business requires. I'm at a crossroad here you see , either I find a way to support myself while traveling by doing computer gigs from time to time , either I get locked up in an ISP doing BGP and traffic engineering - and though I'm in love with the technology that way of life would be unbearable for me. Thanks again for your time .

P.S. My impression was that even users hate users :)

TB0ne 02-06-2013 01:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deadcow (Post 4885596)
Most definitely not ! :) I'm sorry if I sounded a bit dismissive earlier it's just that I'm ignorant about the subject in question. Thanks for replying. Let me put it this way then : do you think that if I study hard for 6-9 months , get my LPI 2 and a MCSA I could set up small networks from top to bottom ? Networks is not the right word : shops. I'm asking because I have no idea what a small business requires.

Honestly, I wouldn't focus on a certificate, but focus on the knowledge. Setting up Linux is no more (or less) complex than setting up Windows or Macs. Each have their things to know. Unless you know how the basics work and how to troubleshoot them, you're in for quite a time setting up a shop for anyone. You don't have to be a 'guru' at programming/scripting/etc., but you SHOULD know about how things work. Take the time to learn, and it'll pay off. Would you be much of a network engineer, if you knew NOTHING past Cisco equipment, or TCP? This is no different....before any traffic hits the network, you'll have to know how it gets there. Learning how to use selinux, iptables, do GUI/CLI network configurations, and diagnose network related services on the OS level (mail, web, snmp, etc.), will only make you better at what you do in the long run.
Quote:

I'm at a crossroad here you see , either I find a way to support myself while traveling by doing computer gigs from time to time , either I get locked up in an ISP doing BGP and traffic engineering - and though I'm in love with the technology that way of life would be unbearable for me. Thanks again for your time .
No worries, and I understand, totally. But since you don't know any programming/scripting right now, it could very well be that you turn out to LOVE it, and have a talent for it. That only gives you MORE jobs to apply for, since you then have those skills. Gaining knowledge is never a waste of time.
Quote:

P.S. My impression was that even users hate users :)
Well..I'm not a user. :) But, I do run my own business, and have to be very wary when someone who works with me says that. Frustration with someone who can't tell you anything about a supposed 'problem' is one thing. Being a tool when someone asks a legitimate question is another, and it's hard to know where things come from some times.

Also, look at it from another standpoint....if you're an independent contractor, you can always charge extra for dealing with end users, if that's what you want. I'm MORE than happy to let an intern waste two hours of my time, when I'm billing by the hour. :)

slinx 02-06-2013 01:33 PM

You should learn Linux:

* Many networking devices are based on some variant of Linux

* Businesses and governments in developing nations don't have tons of cash to spend on licenses, so they are usually limited to free open-source software, such as Linux.

You don't have to become an expert scripter, but it will help you immensely if you can understand what some script accessing your network is trying to do.

I'd recommend you familiarize yourself with several of the user-friendly Linux variants, such as Ubuntu, that are popular with small business end-users. You don't need to be an expert admin, just enough to set a whole shop up on the network so people can start working and accessing network resources.

Good luck!

P.S. None of us would have any jobs at all, without end-users! Be patient and kind with them.

wstewart 02-08-2013 06:40 AM

apache not cool??? I take it you don't find process IDs and configuration files cool either. I think you'll do a lot less sitting at a desk with networking than you will with linux. Maybe find a business partner who can fill in the gaps?

deadcow 02-09-2013 01:51 AM

No , those configs are ok. The problem is people who do lamp most probably run and administer lamp. they do php and databases and scripting and everything else. Setting them up doesn't seem that hard. Taking care of them is completely different. You must take into account that my background is vendor specific coding/scripting : cisco and juniper. Linux is a colaborative effort so two network commands have completly different arguments (-a means 'all' in one case and something else in another). Config files are the same , nothing is standardized. The naming is different also : trunking (dot1q , isl) and etherchannel (802.ad) mean something else in linux. I can't understand for the life of me why somebody doesn't realease a huge alias package that makes these commands make some sense. Debugging is horrible. Literaly. In Cisco and in Juniper and elsewhere , like Hawei it would be something like 'debug ip ospf adjacency' , 'show ip ospf interfaces detail' 'debug ip packet' 'show ip bgp summary' etc. What I'm saying is that it's like learning the wheel all over again. I have been reading 6 hours a day this week and it's driving me MAD !!!! :))
Again , thanks for your kind answers and support.

wstewart 02-09-2013 02:07 AM

Yea that can be a problem in linux mostly due to all of the different distros out there but once you really start to understand linux it's not too difficult to pick up a different distro. Actually depending on which distro you switch to, the entire file structure can vary.

sag47 02-09-2013 01:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by deadcow (Post 4887472)
You must take into account that my background is vendor specific coding/scripting : cisco and juniper. Linux is a colaborative effort so two network commands have completly different arguments (-a means 'all' in one case and something else in another). Config files are the same , nothing is standardized. The naming is different also : trunking (dot1q , isl) and etherchannel (802.ad) mean something else in linux.

Let's put it into perspective then. Every one of the tools you mentioned is designed and developed by a different "vendor". You can't expect the thousands of vendors/companies to get together and do the exact same options for their commands as the options don't always apply for the type of command (or even make sense to try to make them apply in a similar fashion). There is a standard: It's called POSIX and most commands follow it in some capacity. If anything, because Linux follows so many standards (and not just a single standard) it may be what is confusing you. When I say standards I mean IEEE/POSIX/other standards bodies. This is why commands and tools come with man pages, info pages, and command line switches for help. In order to use a command, you must first read about it and learn what its options do. That's like moving to Windows and complaining all of the cmd command options have /option instead of -option like you're used to.

Quote:

Originally Posted by wstewart (Post 4887477)
Yea that can be a problem in linux mostly due to all of the different distros out there but once you really start to understand linux it's not too difficult to pick up a different distro.

His issue has nothing to do with distros. Once you peel away the GUI and use only a terminal they're all pretty much the same. If I really wanted I could get *any* Linux tool on *any* distro. It's a tools issue, getting to know the tool-set, and how to use it. The GUI will only take you so far which cuts differences between distros out of the picture IMO.

Quote:

Originally Posted by deadcow (Post 4887472)
Debugging is horrible. Literaly. In Cisco and in Juniper and elsewhere , like Hawei it would be something like 'debug ip ospf adjacency' , 'show ip ospf interfaces detail' 'debug ip packet' 'show ip bgp summary' etc. What I'm saying is that it's like learning the wheel all over again. I have been reading 6 hours a day this week and it's driving me MAD !!!! :))
Again , thanks for your kind answers and support.

In my experience, debugging in Linux has been the most powerful in terms of what can be done (and I've used other *nixs and proprietary OS's). There's such a plethora of debugging tools that once you learn how to use them they become extremely powerful. I'm not going to give any examples (take too much time), but Googling around can show you or I can link an article (something like this).

Please note, I'm not trying to convince you to stay with Linux. Just understand you're using a different platform. The tool-set and mannerisms are going to be different than what you're used to on other systems. It's going to take a lot of reading. It's going to initially be a lot of one-sided giving as you learn. I wouldn't expect to move to AIX, Solaris, or Windows and be able to operate normally without some effort on my part coming from Linux. You shouldn't expect to be a one-day-pro coming the other way. I've been using Linux for over a decade now and I still learn new stuff about the /proc and /sys file systems. Heck, every time I read a man page I think to myself, "Huh, that's pretty neat. I didn't know this command could do that."

I also don't want to discourage you. It's good that you're hitting the books and studying the toolset. This is very good and is an absolute requirement if you wish to be good at what you do (at least an ethical responsibility for the sake of security). Most people I've encountered, who put in the effort to learn the system, are very satisfied with Linux and what it can provide.

Good luck!

SAM

wstewart 02-09-2013 10:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sag47 (Post 4887767)


His issue has nothing to do with distros. Once you peel away the GUI and use only a terminal they're all pretty much the same. If I really wanted I could get *any* Linux tool on *any* distro. It's a tools issue, getting to know the tool-set, and how to use it. The GUI will only take you so far which cuts differences between distros out of the picture IMO.
SAM


They're the same for the most part but try going from centos to slackware. You've got to write your own iptables script and services aren't stored in the /etc/init.d directory like most mainstream distros. There are a lot of differences to adjust to not related to any gui but for the most part it's not much different then learning the syntax of a new programming language if you've been programming for awhile. I still hear enough people complaining about those differences but they're usually just using it as a reason for preferring windows over linux.


Quote:

Originally Posted by deadcow (Post 4887472)

Linux is a colaborative effort so two network commands have completly different arguments (-a means 'all' in one case and something else in another). Config files are the same , nothing is standardized.

I figured he was talking about distros there but I could be wrong.

sundialsvcs 02-11-2013 07:55 AM

Your ace-in-the-hole experience is that you ran a business, well enough to sell it and buy a bike (and booze). :) Okay, that is what you're provably "good at," which of course means being able to satisfy customers and to solve technical problems. Not too many people can prove that they've actually got that. Generalize from that.

Linux is merely another operating-system that is in very common use. Grab an old machine and stick a Linux distro on it. Try to construct a network using it. Leverage what you already know, which is considerable, to discover what you don't. (You'll discover that you know a lot more than you think ... when's the last time you stared at a box in "the closet" that you'd never seen before in your life, smiled at the customer and said, "no problem" ... and, lo and behold, it wasn't? Because it turns out that you did have similar-enough, applicable know-how?) Uh huh. Leverage that.

Be on the lookout also for certification training manuals especially at used book stores. These are a "sip from the firehose" source of directed knowledge. You don't need the piece-of-paper. You've got the chops ... you just need to formulate a plan. Don't let unfamiliarity throw you.

wanderingw 02-15-2013 01:03 PM

If you plan to be at a specific company for a while, certifications may not matter too much. As a contractor or sales person, you are constantly selling yourself - hence why certs do matter. You need to have both experience and certifications to get real good at contracting, getting higher paying contracts, and some companies do care about certifications (resume scanners sometimes only look for key works which may include RHCE or whatever).
My two cents...


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