Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

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Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

Postby wa_desert_rat » Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:00 am

This forum, along with a majority of forums and web sites, runs on a computer that uses Linux for its operating system but most computer users don't learn how to work with Linux. The craigslist site for Seattle, WA lists over 250 jobs that mention Linux in their ads. Many of these jobs just ask for experience and competence and don't demand a college degree (usually an "equivalent of education and experience") or certifications (often mentioned as "desirable" but not required). Yet most colleges and universities - and virtually all community colleges - teach to the Microsoft model. That's mostly because MS gives schools free stuff.

But Linux is ALREADY FREE! You just download it, burn it onto a few CDs or a DVD, and install it. Most Linux distributions come with applications that work just like MS Office and with database software (SQL), programming languages, email server software (not client.... SERVER.... but clients too), web server software, and more. Most of it free for the download. It's not "shareware" which is often (usually) a broken version of the good stuff you'll have to pay for. It's "open source" which even includes the code so you can see how it was written.

So how do you learn to be good enough at Linux to get a job? You download it and experiment with it. You already like to tinker with stuff so this is a chance to turn that tinkering into a very well paid career. Try to make your own web server. You'll need to work with Apache, one of the open source SQL databases, and PHP (which is the "framing" language used to assemble the pieces of this forum into a coherent and usable product). Or make it into a router... maybe even your home router. Linux can easily become a router with the ability to firewall your home network and even monitor - and block - unsuitable web sites. I once demonstrated to my teen-aged kids that I could actually READ everything they typed on their computer back in the family room from my Linux computer in my office. I didn't often do it to them... but they knew I could and that kept them careful. :D

Where do you find information? Well, the Interwebz, of course. Start with www.linux.com, www.centos.org, and www.redhat.com. Search with Google (which runs on Linux) for your questions.

Is it easy? Nope. But it's rewarding. Using Linux often means you tinker with the inner workings of your computer system and this can mean that you have to reload that system every now and then. Or even often (depending upon what you are doing). But it is lots easier than it used to be and, anyway, it's how you learn. It's not easy to install and configure MS Server 2012 either. But at least you won't have to shell out $1k for Linux.

I recommend that you start with Centos. You might as well learn with this as it is the equivalent of the Red Hat Enterprise Server (RHEL) and Centos and RHEL are the two most often distributions that employers ask for.

OH... and starting wages for entry level Linux jobs are $15 to $19 while for Windows jobs they are $10 to $12. Just FYI.

Craig
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Re: Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

Postby Blunts » Wed Oct 16, 2013 4:40 pm

Linux isn't for everyone, and it is a tough sell to the average person. It is not harder or easier than Windows, it is simply different.
MacOS was forked from FreeBSD long ago. FreeBSD and Linux were forked from Unix. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were friends once. It all comes full circle. ;)
Anyway I am babbling. I have been using linux (various flavors) since the birth of Slackware... however long ago that was. Currently have no windows computers in my home.
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Re: Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

Postby wa_desert_rat » Wed Oct 16, 2013 8:07 pm

Blunts wrote:Linux isn't for everyone, and it is a tough sell to the average person. It is not harder or easier than Windows, it is simply different.
MacOS was forked from FreeBSD long ago. FreeBSD and Linux were forked from Unix. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were friends once. It all comes full circle. ;)
Anyway I am babbling. I have been using linux (various flavors) since the birth of Slackware... however long ago that was. Currently have no windows computers in my home.


I am not after everyone... I am after the people who are interested in learning how their systems work and are adaptable enough to move in another direction. I agree that it's not for everyone as far as tinkering, but the local library in my relatively small (21,000) town has 15 Linux boxes running and the seats are often full. They all know that it's Linux but they don't seem to mind. But they are users and not necessarily future programmers or administrators. But some might be in the future. Those are the people I'm trying to reach. :)

Linux was not forked from Unix, by the way; at least not in the technical definition of "fork" which means taking an existing source code and moving it in a new direction. Everyone thinks that Linus used Minix as his beginning but Linus says that he actually wrote Linux from scratch... making it mimic Unix but using no code from anyone else. Since the source code is open for anyone to compare the versions, I believe him. If it weren't the truth someone would have been successful in suing Linux distributors (e.g.: SCO which is famously finished). The various utilities (ls, df, ifconfig, and all the rest - which in large part were written by UC-Berkeley undergrads as class projects) were moved over once the kernel could work like Unix enough to allow that. I think that the fact that so many utilities cross over between the kernels (Mach, FreeBSD, Solaris, Xenix, etc.) is because those kernels mimic the original AT&T Unix so well.

I began my career in computers in the 1970s as an engineer trying to move our control systems over to the then-new Intel 4004. We had been using discrete CMOS digital components to control heavy machinery (I was on the team that built the heavy lifting system for the Hughes Glomar Explorer and worked aboard the ship afterwards) but the 4004 was just too limited. The 8008 was more capable but by that time I had moved on. I then worked with RT11 on DEC micro-computers, and then Unix and Xenix. It was while working the Exxon that I saw my first MSDOS operating system (on a portable that was suitcase-sized) and I was not impressed. :)

Later I did use MSDOS and DesqView in an effort to squeeze out mulit-tasking from the 8086 chipsets. This was relatively successful even on the Motorola laptops. Minix and Coherent were useless, Xenix was taken over by MS and allowed to die (there is an ad featuring Bill Gates touting the wonders of Xenix, ironically), Unix was too expensive, and so when Linux appeared the *nix community jumped on it. My first Linux was Yggdrasil and then I moved to Slackware when it came out. I've run FreeBSD, HPUX, Solaris, DEC Unix and the rest but I still prefer Linux. For a while v1.13 was the best thing going and I set up several public school systems (email, web, file servers, DNS servers and routers) using that as a base.

I was gratified to see Linux become so prevalent in the background but not surprised. I've been using it in the background at companies and public agencies for 20 years. And made quite a lot of money doing it, too. And it's been fun watching all this shake out.

My hope is that more young people will become intrigued by the opportunities in Linux and move away from game playing on Windows long enough to realize that the challenges presented by the real world Linux community is more fun than playing games. :D

Not easy to do, though.

Nice to have someone else around who has been around the block. :)

Craig
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Re: Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

Postby squire366 » Fri Oct 18, 2013 12:06 pm

It's funny that you mention your local library having 15 Linux boxes and people still use it. I've been using various Linux distros for a few years now and I installed Ubuntu on my kid's desktop and "attempted" to show them how to use it. They told me that they already knew how to use Ubuntu because the computers in one of the labs at their school ran Ubuntu which shocked the hell out of me.

On my current laptop I triple boot Windows 7, Elementary OS, Ubuntu 13.10 and I also run Mac OS X Mountain Lion in a VMware VM on the Windows 7 host. BUT............Elementary OS is my daily driver and I can open a terminal and do all kinds of neat stuff. Most Linux "power users" run CentOS, SUSE, Red Hat but I've found that eOS, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Zorin..........ect all do the same thing as CentOS and Red Hat but they are designed for the average user to interact with the distro via the GUI and not the terminal.

I'm currently in the process of studying for a LPI 1 certification and YES companies are starting to notice the benefits of Linux Servers, Clients and distros. The job market is starting to see a lot more openings for Linux professionals and I'm hoping to cash in on that in a couple of years. That is IF my current company doesn't convert to Linux first..................LOL
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Re: Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

Postby wa_desert_rat » Sat Oct 19, 2013 8:47 am

squire366 wrote:On my current laptop I triple boot Windows 7, Elementary OS, Ubuntu 13.10 and I also run Mac OS X Mountain Lion in a VMware VM on the Windows 7 host. BUT............Elementary OS is my daily driver and I can open a terminal and do all kinds of neat stuff. Most Linux "power users" run CentOS, SUSE, Red Hat but I've found that eOS, Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Zorin..........ect all do the same thing as CentOS and Red Hat but they are designed for the average user to interact with the distro via the GUI and not the terminal.


I think that any distribution of Linux is cool to use. But Centos and RHEL (Redhat Enterprise Linux) are a different breed of Linux; Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc. do not do the same things. And it doesn't have a lot to do with the GUI, either. Search the craigslist jobs in the nearest big city (Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, etc.) and you will notice a pattern. If they name a distro at all it will be either RHEL or Centos most of the time. There is a reason for this. RHEL is certified to work with many different business applications and they both run in a well tuned SE (Security Enhanced) environment. So much so that to get things working on a Centos box can be complicated.

So, while I love to see people using any Linux... if you want to have a career around Linux then you should start working in Centos. Not as your desktop...but as a server. And not on your laptop! Ask around for an old tower and use that. And don't set it up as a workstation... use a keyboard, a monitor, and a mouse just to get it configured; then admin it remotely. (Better still: Get two old towers and use a KVM switch.) I use Ubuntu for my workstation but my servers (upstairs) are both Centos 6.4.

Begin by making it your house primary DNS server. Then make it the email server for your entire house (it can collect email from other sites and park it all there for collection remotely). Then create a website using one of the dynamic DNS outfits out there (I do that and it's almost as good as having a static IP). You can use that as a family cloud. Make it do things that Windows cannot (like a house web proxy using Squid - this alone will teach you a lot about tcp/ip and creating an acl).

Get comfortable with working in the terminal and learn to use these tools: http://www.cyberciti.biz/tips/top-linux ... tools.html. 90% of a system administrator's work is in the terminal window on the command line. Practice writing shell scripts (preferably in BASH) as scripting is a valuable part of any Linux professional's job.

Install and learn Nagios which is almost a career path all by itself; experience with Nagios is often required to be considered for a job in a network operations center (NOC). (Don't believe me? Search any big city craigslist jobs - the overall heading - for "Nagios"; as I type this there are 23 Seattle jobs that want this experience!)

Sign up to help on an Open Source project; even if it's just to write the user manuals (coders are notoriously terrible at writing coherent manuals). This gets your name out there as a contributor to Linux and acts as a valuable part of any resume.

Almost none of the Linux jobs you'll see advertised want credentials or certifications; what they want is competence and experience. And the best part of that equation is that you can get both of those at home for free. But this is what is called a "window of opportunity" and it will not last forever. Most universities and virtually all community colleges are locked into teaching to the Windows and Cisco platforms and offer maybe an introductory course in Linux (often taught by someone who barely knows it). This, however, is bound to change. There is already a certification for RHEL. Oracle has certifications for their database products running on Linux (Centos and RHEL and their own distro). Others are bound to crop up when Corporations discover that they can hire fewer Linux experts than Windows/Cisco people and save money (even while paying the Linux experts more).

I'm currently in the process of studying for a LPI 1 certification and YES companies are starting to notice the benefits of Linux Servers, Clients and distros. The job market is starting to see a lot more openings for Linux professionals and I'm hoping to cash in on that in a couple of years. That is IF my current company doesn't convert to Linux first..................LOL


Getting a company to "convert" to Linux is an almost impossible task even if you're a member of the IT staff. Usually the place is loaded with Windows and Cisco people with credentials who are not at all driven to learn Linux. After all, they've paid good money for those certifications (and they'll have to shell out a lot more to stay current, too; MS and Cisco have seen to that) so why should they move to another platform. Expect at least some of them to fight tooth and nail against any implementation of Linux.

One of my former business partners - a guy who used to tell me Windows was the best of the best back in the NT days - became Director of IT for the local hospital (he's now moved upwards to another IT directorship in a bigger city) and discovered that he could use Linux covertly to solve problems and remain within his budget. One of his issues was a remote building that was too far for point-to-point WiFi but too close to justify a T1. Plus he wanted the connection to that building to be fail-safe; two routes. What he did was make use of the local PUD's fiber system to buy two regular Internet connections to that building; one each on two fiber hubs. Then he used Linux and OpenVPN to create a fast, encrypted virtual private network over each link. This system, if it went down on one hub, would automatically connect via the other. Cost? Several hours of work, two cast-off PCs and a download of Centos.

Interestingly enough, when he left the hospital his replacement could not figure out how to use the Linux VPN system and contracted with a Cisco outfit to do it; for a total cost of $60,000! Plus now they're locked in to yearly mandatory CIsco updates or they lose their support and system upgrades.

That guy, by the way, got fired.

Craig
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Re: Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

Postby squire366 » Sat Oct 19, 2013 10:00 am

Believe me WDR I'm going to take all of the advice you posted above. Basically I use eOS the same way most people use windows or OS X. Web browsing, email, writing documents...........ect. I installed Ubuntu 13.10 simply because it was a new release and I had a 80GB "sandbox" partition on my laptop just to play around with. I do agree that Red Hat, CentOS, SUSE are all enterprise level operating systems and can do things that Ubuntu, eOS and Mint cannot do.

I do have a IBM Think Center tower that was going to be recycled by my company. When I asked my manager if I could have it because I wanted to eventually build a LAMP server
with it his eyes got wide and he said "sure, take it and get some practice in." Since then he has given me another IBM Think Center tower that he was using to host a camera system in the office. He pulled the HDD and RAM but I can grab a couple of HDDs and a gig or two of RAM from Microcenter real cheap. I'm lucky enough to have a Microcenter store right around the corner from my job. He also
gave me a Lenovo Thinkpad T61 that works but has a broken LCD so I have several machines to learn Linux server on.

I work for a DoD contractor and the developers that code software for the instruments that we make for the Army, Navy, Airforce and Marines all use CentOS and they have Linux servers in the office but those are in secured labs that I cannot get access to. The developers all maintain their own servers separately from the IT server hardware but one day they may just decide to hire a Linux admin to do all of the admin tasks for them and one of the engineers mentioned that to me so that's what I meant by my office converting over to Linux. I told one of the guys that I use Linux daily and he made the same suggestion that you're making..........LEARN CENTOS.

So don't be surprised if you get some Linux/CentOS related questions in your inbox from me...........................LOL
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Re: Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

Postby desertguns » Mon Oct 21, 2013 3:18 pm

I may have missed it here, but one of the most important points is that Android is a flavor of Linux. Tons of potential there. And, fellow old guys, there is no future for the masses in those arcane desktop boxes. But they die an all-to-slow death. Kids play games on dedicated game boxes, except for the twentysomething kids living in their parents basements with their racing PCs. Streaming video is watched on HDTV via a $60 box & internet connection. Even my 7" tablet has an HDTV output :P Most of those things are coded in a version of Linux. Regarding CentOS & other flavors of Linux, there are people in industrial process control that like it on the control side, even if they have Windows boxes on the IT side. The systems are, and must, remain separated. It's the only sure way to prevent Internet or intranet hacking of gas/electric power & water treatment plants. The problem with Linux is not the OS itself, but the dearth of industrial software made for it. At least so far. And it just isn't practical to write this stuff in-house leaving only key programmers that understand a system. Unfortunately, and unjustifiably, there are still exponentially more Windows boxes out there compared to Linux or Apple combined. It's not right but that's still the way it is. It's also an abomination that wages for programmers have dropped to such a dismal level. But programmers with an understanding of control systems, and/or can write a GUI, and know multiple languages & protocols, will always be able to write their own ticket. So, yeah, squire, gobble it up wherever you can. It will pay off down the road. I am so glad I only deal with these industries on a limited basis these days... ;)
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Re: Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

Postby squire366 » Tue Oct 22, 2013 7:58 am

desertguns wrote:I may have missed it here, but one of the most important points is that Android is a flavor of Linux. Tons of potential there. And, fellow old guys, there is no future for the masses in those arcane desktop boxes. But they die an all-to-slow death. Kids play games on dedicated game boxes, except for the twentysomething kids living in their parents basements with their racing PCs. Streaming video is watched on HDTV via a $60 box & internet connection. Even my 7" tablet has an HDTV output :P Most of those things are coded in a version of Linux. Regarding CentOS & other flavors of Linux, there are people in industrial process control that like it on the control side, even if they have Windows boxes on the IT side. The systems are, and must, remain separated. It's the only sure way to prevent Internet or intranet hacking of gas/electric power & water treatment plants. The problem with Linux is not the OS itself, but the dearth of industrial software made for it. At least so far. And it just isn't practical to write this stuff in-house leaving only key programmers that understand a system. Unfortunately, and unjustifiably, there are still exponentially more Windows boxes out there compared to Linux or Apple combined. It's not right but that's still the way it is. It's also an abomination that wages for programmers have dropped to such a dismal level. But programmers with an understanding of control systems, and/or can write a GUI, and know multiple languages & protocols, will always be able to write their own ticket. So, yeah, squire, gobble it up wherever you can. It will pay off down the road. I am so glad I only deal with these industries on a limited basis these days... ;)


Yeah my place of employment is a dedicated Windows shop but like I said above the engineers and developers here all use CentOS and various open source applications. I'm currently working on mastering the CLI because like WDR said, a Linux Admin MUST know how to manipulate a Linux server using the CLI.

I'm studying and working in Linux everyday using either Elementary OS or Ubuntu. The website that I use is called www.linuxacademy.com and for $20 a month I can work in real time on an actual Linux server that they host. I can build out an Ubuntu, Debian or CentOS server depending on what I'm learning or working on at the time. I just open a terminal and if I'm in Linux or OS X I can SSH into my server on the website or if I'm in Windows I can connect via Putty. The videos are very good even though the instructor moves kind of fast but that is what the pause button is for...............LOL

But I love Linux and as much as I hate Apple and the iPhone and iPads I actually like OS X
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Re: Why You Need to Start Using Linux for Fun and Profit

Postby desertguns » Tue Oct 22, 2013 10:04 am

Jump at any chance at project management too, no matter how small the job.

I have no experience at OS X at all. :P Apple is not a common industrial or process control platform either. But the PC I use for work from my house has 4 drives & 7 bootable OS/ server platforms. This allows me to duplicate most scenarios/issues a client may experience with various proprietary software. VM does not always work for remote diagnostics or error replication, and customers are skittish about permissions access remotely. Ubuntu allows diagnostics of files & Windows registry without mucking around with the suspect OS hardware or even have the OS active.

I'm starting to play with Ubuntu for Android now & see great potential, if the Windows slugs can be sidestepped. The device retains Android GUI & properties but switches to an Ubuntu desktop when a monitor is available. And I'm testing a $12 USB keyboard for Android tabs as well - so far, so good. For thin client IT & and secure in-plant monitoring, this should be an ideal alternative to bloated Windows laptops or boxes/servers, provided software vendors see the potential as well. And on a 4 core tablet it should scream with multiple running apps, & a two core phone should be pretty solid as well. Unfortunately, while I find customers & municipal entities craving these alternatives, the bureaucratic infrastructures of their IT depts (which may even "own" process PCs), as well as their software vendors, makes progress almost impossible. Another unfortunate side of progress can be a lower workforce requirement due to higher efficiency. Large depts & Windows vested vendor don't let that happen without extreme pressure. Windows bugs & updates keep plenty of people employed... And welcome to Win 8.1 :roll: :roll: :mrgreen: What a frickin farce...
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