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Old 09-14-2013, 04:19 AM   #1
austinramsay
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Becoming a system administrator, need some advice.


I've been learning linux and solaris for the past couple months and have been thinking about seeking a systems admin career. Is it worth it to learn solaris? Do many companies really use it or is it a waste of my time? Would learning just linux be a better idea? I see there's more opportunity as a linux admin compared to a solaris admin. Any thoughts? What can I do to learn more about linux/solaris? How do I know what I should be learning to become one?
 
Old 09-14-2013, 06:51 AM   #2
unSpawn
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Kind of odd. You've been with us since 2007, you (still) have your distribution listed in your personal nfo as "Solaris" and the majority of the threads you've started were in the Solaris / OpenSolaris forum. So I'm wondering why you would ask if it is worth to "learn Solaris"? And saying "system administrator" is as generic as saying "I'm working in IT". What do you think a system administrators job would be? In what way does that match with what you're doing now? And what do you expect (for yourself) to get out of such a job?

While you can certainly study for it and hunt for such jobs I think a lot of us just found themselves performing SA tasks or working in some sort of SA role. Depending on your knowledge, skills, working environment and ambition that may be either entirely satisfactory or completely the opposite. Best first thing to suggest would be to let go of any idyllic or romantic notions you might possess and accept the harsh reality that, generally speaking, at least seventy five per cent of people don't entirely like their job let alone end up working in the field they studied for in the first place.

Are you accustomed to or willing to deal and interface with negligent vendors, unreliable and socially inept co-workers, always absent management, subcontractors of ill repute, ill-tempered clients, faulty software, hardware that won't break until you need it, juggling fifty tickets a day, incidents that always come in twos or threes, calamities, missing documentation, stress, odd working hours, failing backups, monitoring alerts at three in the morning, a sixty hour working week (ah, don't forget the report that's due this weekend), lacking knowledge, administrative tasks you don't benefit from, Open standards, Industry standards and standards certain unnamed companies don't fscking adhere to and still be able to end your working week saying "you had fun"? (And then I haven't even started talking about the current economical situation or cut-throat tactics in an already over-saturated market.)

While a lot depends on being the right person at the right place and time you should rely on yourself, your own skills and interests. Talk to your friends, check your network, talk to people who work as SA and be actively interested in companies regardless of them having job openings or not.
This may sound like utter crap but do something you like.
That'll last longer.
 
Old 09-14-2013, 12:23 PM   #3
btmiller
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System administration is as much about people as it is technology (see unSpawn's excellent post, and yes during my career I've had to interface with all of the people and products listed above). You've got to be able to communicate with various stakeholders (management, system users, vendors, other members of the SA team, etc.) to keep things operational and productive. It can be a lot of fun for the right type of person, but I've seen several SAs wash out of the field because they quite frankly just don't "get it".

Also, don't worry about the technology so much (Linux vs Solaris). The best admins I've seen have expert-level knowledge of several OSes enhanced by a deep innate understanding of how computer systems and networks work at a very basic level. These guys and gals can pick up and run with a new system in a short period of time because they understand these things; they just have to learn the new command set/GUI/front-panel toggle switches necessary so they can apply the knowledge that they already have.

As for where to go next, look for a couple of sysadmin-y books. The Practice of System and Network Administration is a very good one that speaks a lot to the "soft skills" required to be a sysadmin. If you want to dig into something more technical, start learning about basic system and network security and cryptography. Such knowledge is helpful regardless of the platform you choose to work on.
 
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Old 09-14-2013, 04:25 PM   #4
austinramsay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unSpawn View Post
Kind of odd. You've been with us since 2007, you (still) have your distribution listed in your personal nfo as "Solaris" and the majority of the threads you've started were in the Solaris / OpenSolaris forum. So I'm wondering why you would ask if it is worth to "learn Solaris"? And saying "system administrator" is as generic as saying "I'm working in IT". What do you think a system administrators job would be? In what way does that match with what you're doing now? And what do you expect (for yourself) to get out of such a job?

While you can certainly study for it and hunt for such jobs I think a lot of us just found themselves performing SA tasks or working in some sort of SA role. Depending on your knowledge, skills, working environment and ambition that may be either entirely satisfactory or completely the opposite. Best first thing to suggest would be to let go of any idyllic or romantic notions you might possess and accept the harsh reality that, generally speaking, at least seventy five per cent of people don't entirely like their job let alone end up working in the field they studied for in the first place.

Are you accustomed to or willing to deal and interface with negligent vendors, unreliable and socially inept co-workers, always absent management, subcontractors of ill repute, ill-tempered clients, faulty software, hardware that won't break until you need it, juggling fifty tickets a day, incidents that always come in twos or threes, calamities, missing documentation, stress, odd working hours, failing backups, monitoring alerts at three in the morning, a sixty hour working week (ah, don't forget the report that's due this weekend), lacking knowledge, administrative tasks you don't benefit from, Open standards, Industry standards and standards certain unnamed companies don't fscking adhere to and still be able to end your working week saying "you had fun"? (And then I haven't even started talking about the current economical situation or cut-throat tactics in an already over-saturated market.)

While a lot depends on being the right person at the right place and time you should rely on yourself, your own skills and interests. Talk to your friends, check your network, talk to people who work as SA and be actively interested in companies regardless of them having job openings or not.
This may sound like utter crap but do something you like.
That'll last longer.
I joined this site when I was about 12 years old. I used to mess around with different OSes and just tried getting the basics of things. I'm currently 17 and recently sparked an interest for all of this again, and now that I'm going to be in the real world in a few years I'm thinking of pursuing a career in this field. I don't know anything really major in solaris/linux right now. I know the very basics such as managing services, a little networking, small amounts of bash/ksh scripting, and little things like that. On the side I know some java and am learning that too. I think of system admins being the ones who keep servers running at optimal performance, managing their users, and keeping the servers secure. What else do they do? What I'm doing right now is playing around with my own computers, making notes of commands and studying them, then using them hands on. I bought a sun t2000 for $160 that I play around with. I love being able to make things work on computers. That sounds very general but an example would be I was trying to share my internet from my laptop to my t2000 (not too hard of a task), so I read through what I need to do in order for that to work, took notes on what commands were used and how it was done. The second I actually got it to work, it put a smile on my face. I understand hours and things like that could be difficult. No I am not accustomed to any of that right now, I'm still in high school. I really want to know the roles of a sys admin, what I can do to start a career in that path, how I can prepare myself, and I'll find out if it's something I will do with time.
 
Old 09-14-2013, 09:28 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinramsay View Post
I think of system admins being the ones who keep servers running at optimal performance, managing their users, and keeping the servers secure. What else do they do?
A Really important job they have that you may have missed is:
Reliably perform regular backups AND TEST THEM.

If it's broke, I get to fix it.
If it isn't broke, I don't 'fix' it.
If I don't have an answer, admit it and go find one.
There's way more than "one way" to do things.
Know how and where to find help (man, oh man...)
Search and Re-Search.
Where you read information is every bit as important as what you read.

Keeping notes (several methods) is a good idea.
I use http://www.toodledo.com (internet-based) and zim-wiki (local) plus I have my Dorkblog.

You sound reasonably prepared for this choice you've made.

Yes, unSpawn's reply is very good.
Most folks will tolerate a Nice Admin that doesn't know about a given subject, if he is capable and can find a solution.
No one will tolerate an a-hole that knows everything about everything.

Be Nice.
Be Humble.
Show up early and stay a little late.
Be Honest.
Be Organized.
Be Courteous.

Just my little .02₵ contribution to a Fellow SysAdmin.
 
Old 09-15-2013, 05:26 AM   #6
unSpawn
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Quote:
Originally Posted by austinramsay View Post
I'm still in high school.
How about a summer job at a nearby ISP for example or temping on the side if you can spare the time? That should expose you to customers, structured work and other aspects. And maybe you even get to use your UNIX skills... BTW I do dig the "smile on face" thing: the satisfaction of having accomplished something should never be underrated.

Good luck!
 
Old 09-15-2013, 12:25 PM   #7
austinramsay
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Quote:
Originally Posted by unSpawn View Post
How about a summer job at a nearby ISP for example or temping on the side if you can spare the time? That should expose you to customers, structured work and other aspects. And maybe you even get to use your UNIX skills... BTW I do dig the "smile on face" thing: the satisfaction of having accomplished something should never be underrated.

Good luck!
I wish I could find somewhere here to do something like that but there's not many places around in Yuma AZ to go to, or at least I dont think! I would love to though, but I work with my dad who's a landscaper all year so it'd be hard to do something else on the side too. Maybe I'll think of something though! Thats very true! Thanks for the help!
 
Old 09-15-2013, 02:56 PM   #8
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Computer Users Group Of Yuma

It could be worse, you could be in Quartzsite.
 
Old 09-15-2013, 08:04 PM   #9
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When I lived in AZ they dumped rocks in the yard and called it an Arizona lawn. I watered them for two years and they never did green up.

You could get trained in a number of ways. Usually it requires formal training. Oracle has classes for Solaris and although linux isn't the same many of the ideas are useful for each.

Try to take some local classes if you can. Ultimately you may need to go to remote classes and even see about getting a foot in a door at a place with potential. Always the chicken and the egg on jobs.
 
  


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