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How do I become a Linux System Administrator?

From my mailbox

My questions are about what would be the route for an absolute beginner to get all the certifications needed in order to be able to apply for a job and work as a Linux System Admin.

What about the time frame for completion of this training? I somehow find it really difficult to believe that someone who is a beginner can take a 2 or 3 days course in "linux basics" lets say and then go onto another 2 ,3 days course in "linux admin" and that be enough for one to apply for jobs in linux system admin. I am asking you all this because all the training facilities out there are only providing very short courses from 2 to 4 days and as i said it is difficult to believe that someone who is a beginner can learn all the skills needed for administering a linux system given its complexities ..

My goal is about training from ground up to the level of admin and to have necesary skills to aply for a job but i dont know how to go about it.

Maybe you can enlighten me? Thank you




Dear Xxxxxxx,

I'm going to give you quite a long answer here, and to some extent it's going to be an answer from the outside looking in, as we do not provide training programs which are primarily intended to get people certification. Our Linux courses are for a different role - they're intended to provide the training that many people need when they're looking after the day to day running of a Linux hosted web server, which is typically a small but important part of their employed job.

In a previous role, I used to teach ...
• Introduction to Solaris - 2 days
• Solaris for Users - 2 days
• Solaris for Programmers - 3 days
• Solaris System Administration part 1 (the computer itself) - 3 days
• Solaris System Administration part 2 (networking) - 2 days
• Advances [Solaris] System Administration - 5 days
And looking at that agenda (covering the same ground with a cousin of Linux) there are things that I would add in for an all-singing, all-dancing course these days - so if we were in the "from scratch to know it all in general" business, I might add topics like:
• File sharing through Samba
• Firewalls and routing via ipchains or similar
• Setting up and running a web server - probably Apache http server
• Database admin
• Administering email systems
• Administering and providing Java based services
• Legal issues for administering content and looking after content contributors
quite apart from application specific stuff such as Drupal, Joomla, Simple Machines, Movable Type, Wordpress, and / or any of the other Content Management Systems listed [here]. And quite apart from scripting / programming tools for handling general data and / or custom web sites - this is where Perl and Python, PHP, Rails, Ruby and Django come in ... not to mention Java development and more.

A full course to take someone from scratch (but can we presume keyboarding skills? Familiarity with IT?) though to know-it-all in Linux would take many weeks, and I'm not sure that it would be the most efficient way, bearing in mind a probably lack of opportunity to go off and practise. I don't know if you drive ... but if you do, I suspect you had a number of lessons interspersed with practise on the road in a parent's car. And if you didn't get that other practise, you probably already had, and continued to gain, road experience on a cycle or as a pedestrian. So the courses we ran above, although covering the full gambit, were recommended to be taken at intervals and with at-work practise.

There's a school of thought (to which I give some credence) that many certification schemes are money-spinning wheezes for the organisation that provides the product you're being trained on. A certificate may be called for ("needed" as you put it) for some jobs, but I've actually spoken with other employers who have told me that a string of certificates is a turnOFF for them. I've been told that is shows a professional student, and that it shows someone who may be desparate for a job, or who has more money than sense. I wouldn't go that far ... but I think back to an interview process I ran last year to take on staff, and whilst I asked about qualifications, I had to wonder at some applicants who had far, far more than we needed; I wondered if they were just looking for a job until a better one came along. One lad admitted that to me at interview, telling me that although we were looking for a three month fillin, he would leave after 8 weeks - and he also lost the interview based on his "lordly" attitude expecting doors to be opened for him, and sitting in the interviewer's chair. Certificate in our business from a commercial outfit? At an appropriate level, it would have helped, but it's a tiny consideration beside things like that!

You'll find that many courses are short - a week or less - to give people a chance to get in-job experience between them. And that to learn a very wide range of subtopics you need a series of such courses. Indeed, some training companies offer "passports" to let you buy in bulk over a year. It's the modern equivalent of the sandwich course. But it doesn't provide help in the scenario of someone who'e out of work and retraining for a new career - as that person has no filling to put in between the slices of bread, and it can be pretty dry. I fear that's the scenario you find yourself facing. So what would I suggest? I would suggest a couple of slices of bread, and make some of your own filling. Let me explain / give an example.

Outside of my training role, I'm involved with a couple of independent and "successful" (for which read "busy and "liked") websites. I administer those, on a Linux host which I lease quite cheaply, and that gives me full and up-do-date experience in running systems out on the Internet as a whole. So I have a filling of installing and configuring web server software, including vitual hosts. Of installing databases and keeping them clean. Of backups (and, critically, I'll tell you about testing that the backups are good by doing restores too!). Of keeping enough space on the discs. Of tracking and dealin with potential security breaches. Of loooking after users, and user's content, and indeed (these days) of guiding a team of moderators. Of analysing log files, marketing, looking for how we go forward, etc. And of adding in feeds to / from Twitter and Facebook that keeps them interesting. That's my filling.

In your shoes? I would take a week's course. Perhaps our Deploying LAMP or perhaps something else ... and then I would make practical use of it and decide where to go beyond that. Might be PHP, Ruby, Python or Perl. And when I applied for a job, with this wide range of practical experience, I should have a significant tick in my favour (if not, I would be applying for the wrong job). And a good new employer won't expect a newcomer to have practical experience in everything he needs - he'll expect to have to give him specifically relevant training, and will relish being able to choose the courses and method for that to reflect his (the employer's) specific way of doing the speciallity stuff.

I hope this helps ... excellent questions, and written far better than they often would be. I'm sure with your enquiring mind and logical look at this, you'll do well / go far and I wish you luck with that, whether or not you decide than any of our courses is right for you.

Graham
(written 2011-03-28)

 
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  [4519] Course Schedule - October 2015 to June 2016 - (2015-09-27)
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This is a page archived from The Horse's Mouth at http://www.wellho.net/horse/ - the diary and writings of Graham Ellis. Every attempt was made to provide current information at the time the page was written, but things do move forward in our business - new software releases, price changes, new techniques. Please check back via our main site for current courses, prices, versions, etc - any mention of a price in "The Horse's Mouth" cannot be taken as an offer to supply at that price.

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