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crashsystems 03-20-2007 04:19 PM

windows to linux learning curve
About a year ago I switched from windows to linux on my laptop, and installed linux on an office server as well. Instead of cringing at the learning curve, I embraced it, and as a result I was what I believe to be adequately familiar with the OS in about 1.5 months. Now fast-forward to the present. I'm the Win/Linux IT admin of a small non-profit, and am trying to convince my boss to switch to Linux. While talking about it with him he had two main concerns. One, that our staff would not be familiar enough with Linux and would have a hard time using it, and two, that any person that comes to take my place if I were to leave would probably not have any experience with Linux (all our staff members work on a voluntary basis, so there is no real interview process). I've been doing some small scale usability studies with our staff that I think will deal quite well with his first question. However, I'm trying to get a sense of the average amount time a windows turn linux admin would need to be able to do general network administrative stuff. So here is my question: For those of you who were windows gurus when you switched to linux, about how long did it take until you felt confident of your ability to do everything in linux?

Also, any other advice for convincing the boss would be great.

blueobsession 03-20-2007 05:21 PM

Hey there. When I switched from Windows to Linux several years ago, it probably took about three months or so for me to become completely comfortable with it. But IMHO, the best thing for a new Linux user to do is just dive in and try out different things without being intimidated by it. I mean afterall, there's always going to be a learning curve with any new software. Even Windows XP took a little getting used to (for me anyway :)).

Maybe you could install Linux on one computer for now, let your boss and your coworkers try it out and see if the boss doesn't change his mind. Or you could always let them try out a Live CD for a while and see what they think.

Hope this helps and good luck!


rickh 03-20-2007 05:26 PM


For those of you who were windows gurus when you switched to linux, about how long did it take until you felt confident of your ability to do everything in linux?
"everything" is a big word. Work done by the volunteers using a desktop interface and regular office type applications should not pose much of a problem, but I would defintiely have my eye out for a protege. There needs to be someone around besides you that can answer easy questions and be enthusiastic about the Linux desktop. The boss, himself, could be a candidate for that role.

As far as sysadmin is concerned, I'm assuming that the administrative demands are not extremely demanding, and that you could teach most any technically proficient person, the day-to-day procedures quite quickly. I also assume that yours is a paid position. Again, I would be very alert for any of the volunteers with an interest and aptitude. In my presentation to the boss, I would commit to an extended training period for your replacement in the event that you should decide to leave. People comfortable working in Linux are getting easier to find, and such a person will probably evolve from one of your staff. If your position does not require a true guru, but a quick learner, it would be wonderful if you already had a candidate in mind as a replacement when you move on.

old_geekster 03-20-2007 05:49 PM

I have used Edgy for about three weeks. I had used SuSE 10 in the past, but only for a short time. It didn't recognize my components.

Also, I began using computers in the M$ DOS era. Therefore, I was familiar with the command line.

With that as background, I will have to say I am becoming very comfortable at this point. I could do most anything that a clerical job would require.

Of course, there will be a learning curve. There certainly was with Windows. The difference --- many hundreds (no thousands) of dollars when you are talking about an organization.

Having been a senior manager in a large corporation, I know that the way you get people up-to-speed quickly is to give them training from the beginning. Without proper training, nobody will be able to learn Linux or anything else quickly.

You would want to pick a LTS version, so continuous upgrading wouldn't be necessary.

Dragineez 03-21-2007 12:40 PM

Document Procedures
Clearly document the entire network. No detail is too small to be included in system documentation. Document procedures for routine system tasks. When and where possible, automate routine tasks (e.g.; adding a new user).

Good documentation would allow someone with adequate system administration experience, even if only in Windows, to come behind you and keep the system operational. It would relieve them of the headache of "system self-discovery" trying to figure out how an undocumented network is put together. It would also give them confidence in the platform and the opportunity to learn how to maintain and, if necessary, expand and improve the system.

Include links to this and similar forums where help can be sought.

Look for LUGs in your area to see if any members might be available for "emergency" or stop-gap assistance should the need arise.

crashsystems 03-21-2007 02:46 PM

I'm not saying that I knew everything about Linux within 1.5 months (I think that would take a life time). However by the end of that time I felt comfortable with the system, and I realized that what I needed to learn I could find through the online recourses I was beginning to utilize. rickh, you are correct in assuming that it is not a very demanding position, as it only involves managing about fifty desktops, servers for files/dhcp/apache/mysql, and the office LAN. You all have some good points about the training stuff (both with general staff, as well as the protege), as well as the documentation. I'm thinking of starting a local wiki for writing instructions for general stuff, as well as guides for future administrators.

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