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Old 05-27-2008, 01:51 PM   #1
digger95
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Does Slackware have me covered 'on the job'?


Hi All,

As a GIS/Cartography student I am learning Slackware on my home machine in large part because: (a) it's Linux, which I feel will be of help to me in the job market, and (b) it's the most Unix-like Linux distro, so I feel like I'm getting a broader learning experience. Speaking strictly from an employability standpoint, is there any potential advantage to my gaining experience with other Unix-based OS's such as Solaris or the BSD's?

The reason I ask in advance rather than just 'trying them out' is that it will involve some investment in hardware and I am extremely tight-budgeted right now. Secondly, I would rather spend my time learning Slackware and learning it well than to simply 'get my feet wet' with a multitude of OS's. Does Slackware for the most part have me covered for Linux/Unix in the job market?

My university's GIS labs are Windows-only so any additional experience has to be gained at home.

Also, for those of you who are I.T. professionals and prospective employers: Is it worthwhile to mention 'Slackware' specifically on my CV? I imagine to many employers it would say 'this guy has really learned the nuts and bolts of Linux' but to others who for whatever reason do not prefer Slackware, I don't want to sound pretentious.

Thanks for any input,

Dig
 
Old 05-27-2008, 02:05 PM   #2
charle97
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become a rhce.
 
Old 05-27-2008, 02:10 PM   #3
H_TeXMeX_H
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I know red hat certification as charle97 says, will probably look better on a resume, but I think Slackware will teach you a more general linux system than anything red hat. Of course you must know the famous quote which many Slackers have in their sigs, "If you learn Red Hat, you learn Red Hat. If you learn SuSE, you learn SuSE. But if you learn Slackware, you learn Linux." It's quite true I think. You'll learn a lot more than with those distros.

If you want to learn even more, and have plenty of time on your hands, maybe LFS will be worth a try.

Last edited by H_TeXMeX_H; 05-27-2008 at 02:12 PM.
 
Old 05-27-2008, 02:24 PM   #4
onebuck
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Hi,

I come from academia and we used a mix of PC(s) within labs. We also provided Sun Sparc station lab(s). With large computational projects like CFD, dynamics and modeling the majority of the work was with the Sparcs along with the UI Supercomputers. A lot of our research required time on the Supercomputers.

Your Linux/UNIX experience will benefit you if the employer has the need for the job skills you gain from your education. For you too learn other OS(s) and familiarity with other platforms will surely enhance your abilities. But remember that proficiency is important not just experience!
Your exposure to Solaris, BSD, UNIX or just Slackware will most certainly benefit you in the long run. But to become proficient in each will take some time. Sure the semantics will be across platforms but the syntax will be learned for each so as to become fully acquainted.

I'm sure there would be some relearning on my part if I sat down at a Solaris seat. But I'm sure things would eventually start to come back. That would be the same for a SYS V seat, been awhile but things would eventually come back.

My OS and System experience(s) are multiple over decades of work but I would be able to relearn what is necessary with a little effort on my part. If you don't use it then you loose it! The learning curve won't be the same as someone who is virgin to the task at hand.

Good luck on your endeavors.
 
Old 05-27-2008, 02:48 PM   #5
digger95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onebuck View Post
But remember that proficiency is important not just experience! Your exposure to Solaris, BSD, UNIX or just Slackware will most certainly benefit you in the long run. But to become proficient in each will take some time.
You pretty much nailed it right there.

Given my limited resources... time, money, hardware... my choice is to either: (a) become very proficient in Slackware or (b) spread my time/resources across several Unix-based OS's and just 'get to know' them. I have searched the GIS job ads pretty extensively and it seems the majority of employers just want Linux experience period. However I do see Solaris and BSD mentioned specifically on occasion.

I guess the bottom line is: Is Slackware 'Unix-enough' that if I become proficient in it I'll be able to handle the others?

Dig
 
Old 05-27-2008, 03:58 PM   #6
mcnalu
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I'm a former academic who now runs an IT company.

I'd be impressed that a) you know more than one OS, b) know linux, c) chose to learn slackware and d) did it on your own initiative.

As for the big, bad world outside the LQ forum , well, research your employer. In my experience some folk who know and like linux will be impressed that you chose slackware. I once received an impressed "ooh" from an IT professional SUSE-using friend when I told him I run slackware on my day-to-day work laptop.

Also, saying I had a linux-ready software product got me a big contract recently in an otherwise windows/proprietary environment.

As for moving about unix-like systems: I've used Suns, Decs, Mac OS X, red hat (pre RHEL) and would say my knowledge of slackware linux was very useful in getting a foothold on those systems.

Good luck with your studies!

Last edited by mcnalu; 05-27-2008 at 03:59 PM. Reason: typo
 
Old 05-27-2008, 05:01 PM   #7
digger95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnalu View Post
I'm a former academic who now runs an IT company.
Hiring?
 
Old 05-27-2008, 05:08 PM   #8
alan_ri
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Quote:
Originally Posted by H_TeXMeX_H View Post
"If you learn Red Hat, you learn Red Hat. If you learn SuSE, you learn SuSE. But if you learn Slackware, you learn Linux." It's quite true I think.
...and I have no doubts about it.I am using Linux for about three years and more then twenty Linux distros were runing on my PCes,but after all that time only Slackware is the one I'm keep coming back and now I'm gonna stick with it because I really don't have any desire and need for any other distro and there are lots of reasons for that.First let me say that Slackware for me is the only distro that just make me wanna learn things about Linux even if sometimes I dont have a will for it and it's because Slackware is just pushing you to go further and really,there are no limits,only the ones that you put in front of yourself.Then there is a community that I belive that is like no other in many ways,meaning(I really belive so)you will get best help you can when you need it,and you will need it.Besides that if you consider that Slackware is the oldest Linux distro,that is developed by one man,which I belive that is more advantage then disadvantage,then I think you'll be covered on the job market.

P.S.
Don't ever be ashamed to mention Slackware in your CV.

Last edited by alan_ri; 05-28-2008 at 12:31 PM. Reason: grammar
 
Old 05-27-2008, 05:29 PM   #9
gargamel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digger95 View Post
Hi All,

As a GIS/Cartography student I am learning Slackware on my home machine in large part because: (a) it's Linux, which I feel will be of help to me in the job market, and (b) it's the most Unix-like Linux distro, so I feel like I'm getting a broader learning experience. Speaking strictly from an employability standpoint, is there any potential advantage to my gaining experience with other Unix-based OS's such as Solaris or the BSD's?
Generally, Linux or Unix knowledge is always welcome, if it is additive to MS Windows user knowledge. Most employers will expect you to know how to work with MS Office, but not to administer MS Windows. If Linux skills are explicitly mentioned in a job description, it's usually NOT OpenOffice.org, what is required, but proficiency with either system administration, including regular expressions, shell scripting, Perl and such, or software development with C, C++ and scripting languages like Ruby.
The distribution you use at home for the second kind of jobs doesn't matter. But if your employer is an ISP, it does. Because you will have a very hard time to ensure the availability of thousands of web server computers running SuSE Linux when you have never ever seen YaST.
But then: With the basic knowledge you acquire exploring and using Slackware will enable you to learn the tools of other distros quickly, as you will have a better idea of what's going on behind the scenes than anyone who never wrote a Bash script.


Quote:
Originally Posted by digger95 View Post
The reason I ask in advance rather than just 'trying them out' is that it will involve some investment in hardware and I am extremely tight-budgeted right now. Secondly, I would rather spend my time learning Slackware and learning it well than to simply 'get my feet wet' with a multitude of OS's. Does Slackware for the most part have me covered for Linux/Unix in the job market?
Again, it depends. If you are going to be a system administrator, it will help you more if you know the platform you work with. If your future job is that of a software developer, the distro or OS doesn't matter that much. A sound knowledge of Java or C++ or C or Ruby is what you need, then, including some experience with the more common development frameworks, like Qt (not so popular, yet, but growing) for C++ and MFC, if MS Windows is the target platform, or Spring for Java, or Rails for Ruby, and so on.
But if you are going to be database admin, than you should know as many of the nuts and bolts of the more popular database systems, like Oracle, DB/2 and SAP-DB. As a developer, again, it suffices if you can prove a sound background with SQL.
So the question really is: Are you oriented more toward infrastructure or application level? And do you prefer to tweak and and tune and optimize the system, or do you like to "create" something new (well, as long as the customer pays for it...)?

Quote:
Originally Posted by digger95 View Post
My university's GIS labs are Windows-only so any additional experience has to be gained at home.
And Linux is more fun, as we all know... 8-)

Quote:
Originally Posted by digger95 View Post
Also, for those of you who are I.T. professionals and prospective employers: Is it worthwhile to mention 'Slackware' specifically on my CV? I imagine to many employers it would say 'this guy has really learned the nuts and bolts of Linux' but to others who for whatever reason do not prefer Slackware, I don't want to sound pretentious.

Thanks for any input,

Dig
It depends:
1. Does your employer know, what Slackware is?
2. What exactly are your skills with it? What is your selling point?

But in general, corporate decision makers prefer something with an "official" certificate. Like LSB conformity.
Although in my practical experience Slackware has never suffered in any way from not being officially 100% LSB compliant, but companies often demand a distribution to pass this set of test. The reason is their misunderstanding of "compatibility". LSB compliance means that a distro has RPM for package management (Slackware has not, and it even took me two years to really accept that the Slackware philosophy is equally justified as that of Red Hat or SuSE) and that you can, in principle, install a binary package compiled for one LSB distro on another one. Therefor LSB requires also a certain standardization regarding run levels and boot concept (System V).

But again: If you don't aim to work for an ISP or a computing center as an admin, your selling point won't be Slackware or SuSE or Red Hat, but awk, sed, Perl, Bash and some other programming environments including programming language, frameworks and development tools. Eg, if you know how to write plug-ins for Eclipse based on OSGi, this will help you to get a job in the embedded software development world. If you can show some experience with writing patches for monit (a performance monitoring tool) for use on Damn Small Linux (used as the basic system for some embedded devices), it will also help you.

But what you are running on your desktop to acquire these skills is usually secondary for an employer. And Slackware is certainly one good choice for this.

gargamel

Last edited by gargamel; 05-27-2008 at 05:34 PM.
 
Old 05-27-2008, 05:47 PM   #10
digger95
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Thank you everyone for your input,

Gargamel it will take some time to sift through all the great information you posted so I can't really address that properly at this time.

In my GIS work at school we work exclusively with ArcGIS on the Windows platform. Like it or not, that's pretty much where everyone is at. However... many of the job descriptions I have looked at reference some Linux experience as well such as the following:

http://www.gjc.org/gjc-cgi/showjob.pl?id=1211236051

Specifically: "Demonstrated knowledge administering Windows, UNIX, and/or Linux systems."

Would my Slackware experience prepare me for such a job?

Dig
 
Old 05-27-2008, 06:13 PM   #11
gargamel
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Quote:
Originally Posted by digger95 View Post
Thank you everyone for your input,

Gargamel it will take some time to sift through all the great information you posted so I can't really address that properly at this time.

In my GIS work at school we work exclusively with ArcGIS on the Windows platform. Like it or not, that's pretty much where everyone is at. However... many of the job descriptions I have looked at reference some Linux experience as well such as the following:

http://www.gjc.org/gjc-cgi/showjob.pl?id=1211236051

Specifically: "Demonstrated knowledge administering Windows, UNIX, and/or Linux systems."

Would my Slackware experience prepare me for such a job?

Dig
Sorry for being so stubborn, but: If you administer a network (and if it be small) including managing backups, user accounts, printers and so on: Yes. The distro doesn't play a big role in this job description, but "using" a single machine with Linux is probably not quite the same as "administering" a heterogeneous network.
But all that is necessary to connect a Slackware system with other systems, Linux or Windows or Mac or Unix, is available for, and for the most part, included with Slackware.

EDIT: So Slackware or not is not the question, although I love this distro and can really recommend it for many things from personal experience. But what's required in this rather vague job description is possible with any distro.

The question here for me only would be: How can you demonstrate your skills to the company when you apply for a job there? It probably would help if you get a piece of paper signed by the dean or department head of your school. Someone official will have to testify your skills somehow, probably, in order to improve your chances.
Do you happen to have a friend who is running an IT company? If he knows that you really can do what you claim, it would help you to get some sort of certificate that you can add to your CV.

But note: I am not in your country, and job application procedures may be different where you live. So your mileage may vary.

gargamel


P.S.: The answers to some of your questions also depend on the industry and geographic region your future employer is in. In Europe, eg, SuSE Linux is quite popular in the automotive industry, Debian is the most chosen distro for governmental organizations, and Ubuntu and SuSE are used at home by many people. Slackware is, for whatever reason, apparently quite popular in Italy. At least, the Italian community is very active, as you can see at http://www.slacky.eu.
Software dinos like SAP support only SuSE and Red Hat (not even sure, if it's not only SuSE, now...), Oracle rolls its own "Unbreakable Linux" based on Red Hat.

While for a system administrator responsible for an SAP server infrastructure, it is therefore important to know the platform in detail. But for an engineer at PSA (French car maker) it only matters that his CAD application is available and runs reliably and fast, so he doesn't even need to know that his desktop is running SuSE Linux. But he has to know quite a lot about the CAD software, instead, of course.

In your case, your selling point is currently ArcGIS. But you can increase your "value" by learning another GIS. As you prefer Linux over Windows, something like QGIS might be a good choice. It's something that makes you more valuable for a potential employer, and you can build your Linux/Unix/Slackware proficiency at the same time with it. This would be something that would make sense in the eye of an employer, and you can do it with Slackware for free (well, it takes time, of course), as QGIS is open source. Installing and operating it requires setting up and maintaining a database, and doing something useful with it is only possible when you write scripts, so you'll acquire knowledge in database administration and in writing scripts. And more.

For you, this makes, of course, only sense, if you consider to continue with the GIS topic as a whole. For an employer in that field it wouldn't certainly look quite logical.

gargamel

Last edited by gargamel; 05-27-2008 at 06:35 PM.
 
Old 05-27-2008, 06:55 PM   #12
digger95
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All very good advice.

My post-graduate career will center primarily on using and developing GIS's, most likely in an environmental/cultural resource management setting. My main goal right now is to be able to sit down at a Linux/Unix machine and know my way around (or at least be able to find my way around).

I'm already quite proficient with Windows, ArcGIS and associated cartographic tools, MS Office, Photoshop, Illustrator, desktop publishing, some limited web design, and so forth. I'm also pretty darn good on a Mac and worked as a cartographer for six years at an archaeology firm using Mac computers and was responsible for producing and illustrating their technical reports and maps.

I'm going to put my time and effort now toward learning Slackware, become as proficient as possible with Linux, and dive into some Linux GIS and cartography applications over the summer. It looks like GRASS and QGIS are the most popular. I'm also learning my way around gimp, inkscape and openoffice pretty quickly. I've been quite impressed with how powerful these applications are.

I think that gaining this experience with Linux, combined with my education and experience on Windows and Mac machines will give me a well-rounded resume' and make me fairly employable upon graduation.

Dig

Last edited by digger95; 05-28-2008 at 06:42 AM.
 
Old 05-28-2008, 07:31 AM   #13
mcnalu
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Quote:
Hiring?
Alas not just now, but I like the cut of your jib
 
Old 05-28-2008, 08:39 AM   #14
GrapefruiTgirl
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Hi all

Lots of good advice here, for the OP and for all.

I just wanted to throw in a little tidbit that hasn't been mentioned here yet (keeping in mind that I am a devoted Slackware follower):

There exists a Knoppix distro called "GIS Knoppix" which the OP may find interesting if he/she has the time. I haven't used it myself (though I would have tried it by now if I weren't on dialup) but Knoppix' reputation as a secure & stable distro, combined with raft of included GIS- related tools and packages, might make this particular Knoppix a worthy thing to check out.

If nothing else, it may at least familiarize the OP with some other GIS- types of things there are for Linux.
Again, I haven't tried it, nor am I endorsing it, nor do I know of its current maintenance/update status, but.. Well, there you go!

Sasha
 
Old 05-28-2008, 09:32 AM   #15
digger95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GrapefruiTgirl View Post
There exists a Knoppix distro called "GIS Knoppix" which the OP may find interesting if he/she has the time.
Hi Sasha,

It's interesting you should mention that as I was just looking at GIS-oriented distros yesterday. The Knoppix distro looks great but the one that really caught my eye is ArcheOS which piqued my curiosity because it is geared towards archaeology and has an impressive list of GIS packages. If nothing else it gave me some ideas for software to try out.

Thanks again to everyone.

Dig
 
  


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