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Old 12-05-2010, 06:59 PM   #1
LQ Newbie
Registered: Aug 2010
Posts: 10

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Asking for guidance on a path to a Linux career.

Hello Forum!

I was hoping to get some guidance from the community at large. Here's the deal:

I'm currently going to Ivy Tech and studying for a PC Support and Administration degree. I love Linux and Open Source. I've been thinking this isn't the way to go.

Before I continue, I want to warn you all that I'm one of those "die hard advocates" that harbors a passionate hatred for Microsoft. You have been warned, please don't flame me on this.

I have been questioning the value of most of the curriculum for this degree as it is not in sync with my career and personal goals. Why on earth should I be taking a course in MS Visual Basic? Or an intro course for MS Office? Why should I know how to administer Windows networks?

I'm serious. Can anyone give me a valid reason for this when I only intend to work on Linux based systems? Don't get me wrong, they have a number of courses that I know I can benefit from, one being a Linux specific course, as well as Network Fundamentals, and they teach C/C++ which of course will come in handy. But why must I take these MS based entry courses when they have (as far I'm concerned) no bearing on my career goals at all? I mean, the Intro to Microcomputers course is basically just a tutorial on how to use MS Office. I already know more about the actual Intro to Microcomputers part of that course than the guy teaching it! (This is not an exaggeration, as he tried to tell the class that 32 bit windows 7 could utilize more than 4GB of RAM which is technically impossible) Why do I need to take MS Visual Basic before I can take Beginning C/C++?

It's madness! Insanity! Or am I the insane one? I'm thinking of saying to hell with their curriculum, taking the courses I actually WANT and could benefit from, and then taking the RHCE exam. I've been using Linux only, for the last 10 years not to mention independent study on various aspects of computer science. I don't really think I need their stinkin' A.S. in PC Support to become a RedHat administrator.

Or do I? In my heart, I know what I want, but I'm smart enough and mature enough to realize that what you WANT doesn't necessarily jibe with the way world works. I'm calling out for advice and guidance.

I thank you all in advance.
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Old 12-05-2010, 07:06 PM   #2
LQ Guru
Registered: Mar 2004
Distribution: SusE 8.2
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I wish you luck in your job hunt. It sounds like you're gonna need it

If you're asking for advice, I humbly suggest two things:

a) "hands on" practical experience is Good.
"Internships" and "Volunteer work" are two ways to get it

b) Try to avoid the phrases "hatred", "to hell with" and "insanity" during job interviews.
They tend to alarm people

Last edited by paulsm4; 12-05-2010 at 07:09 PM.
Old 12-05-2010, 10:03 PM   #3
never say never
Registered: Sep 2009
Location: Indiana, USA
Distribution: SLES, SLED, OpenSuse, CentOS, ubuntu 10.10, OpenBSD, FreeBSD
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I share your hatered, but...

The truth of the matter is that as you are getting an education for your career you really need to be as diverse as you can. The truth is that Micro$oft controls the majority of the market, and even if you manage to get a job that centers on your goals of working only on linux systems, those systems will likely interface with Micro$oft products at some level.

As a Systems Administrator who dislikes Micro$oft and will use alternative products whenever practical, I still find that parts of my systems are Micro$oft Products. From Micro$oft SQL Server, which is required for the companies accounting and CRM software, to a Micro$oft server for our phone system, it is an evil that can't be realistically avoided in most environments. In our shop we use Novell Netware / OES and Groupwise. I still need to interface with Windows workstations. I still need to interface with Active Directory, even though eDirectory is superior. I use FOSS whenever possible and practical, such as Maia Mailguard (Spam Filtering), Jasper Server (Reports), MySQL. It is the diversity that has allowed me to grow, save the company untold amounts of money and made sure that I am a highly valued, and as a result well paid, part of the organization.

Remember, that many of the things that you will learn for Micro$oft products, such as Visual Basic and Office may well help you either to understand a concept (programming and macros), that can be easily translated to linux or help you secure a job if you are having trouble getting a job you want (linux only). Learning your way around Micro$oft products is essential if you want to have a diverse choice of career options. Linux is a great solution for a number of scenarios, but a company may for various reasons choose to utilize Micro$oft products. You need to make sure that you are labeled as someone who can get things accomplished and not labeled as a smart person who is too short sited to see the big picture.

paulsm4 has good advise. It is one thing to say you are a Linux supporter, but you don't want to be labeled a fanatic. Much better to start your career saying that you are diverse, though you have been using linux for 10 years, than to go in saying "I know Linux". In my case, I would say great, but I need someone who knows Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2005, XP, Windows 7, Office, SLES/OES, Novell Netware, Groupwise, OpenSuse, CentOS, Python, Perl, C++, apache, tomcat, postfix, Samba, Java, FreeBSD, MySQL, Networking/Routing, ... AND can make all these systems play nice with each other.

Do I expect to find many people that know all of the above? No.

However, I couldn't in good faith hire someone that wasn't diverse enough to handle the majority of our systems. Don't know Novell Netware, but have experience with Active Directory? Well you might be usable. Don't know either? Well might be time to look for a more diversified candidate. Likewise I couldn't in good faith hire someone that walked in and said "UGH! Netware. I don't do Netware." There are reasons for the choices, and even though I may need to rethink certain things with the resent sell of Novell, I know it will be around for a while even if I choose to phase it out.

There is a place for a simple pen knife. Sometimes though you need other tools such as screwdrivers, wrenches, drills, various saws... If you were a carpenter and you showed up to build my house with a hand saw and a hammer, I would send you packing. Sure you can build a house with those simple tools, but you won't be efficient at it. Besides I may want tile floors and brick, with a slate roof, that is going to be very hard to do with a handsaw and hammer.

Learn as much as you can about everything you can while you are still in school. You will end up with a large toolbox and lots of tools to choose from. Don't limit yourself, especially not with the current high unemployment and job prospects.

Good Luck!
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Old 12-18-2010, 06:13 PM   #4
Fred Caro
Registered: May 2007
Posts: 999

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peed off linux candidate

you will not find more patient and sound advice than that of the last post.I will add that employers are not the most speculative of gamblers and want a track record of excellence and compliance. You can pick holes in many common place computer practices but you have to comply for a while.


education, microsoft, rhce

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