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Best Training in Linux Administration?

Cliff posted more than 9 years ago | from the fast-track-to-a-Linux-education dept.

Education 467

Love to Learn Linux asks: "My company is making the move to Linux. I've been a Windows admin the last 5 years and have been asked to learn Linux. I've got some O'Reilly books but I need some hands on experience. My company will pay for any Linux training I choose. I'd prefer an online course to one of those 4 day classroom courses since I'd like to take my time and really learn it. So far, I've been recommended the Red Hat eLearning course and the O'Reilly Learning Lab. Would you recommend either of these over the other, or are there some better choices?"

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/. fails it again (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208229)

404 File Not Found
The requested URL (askslashdot/04/09/10/0058204.shtml?tid=146&tid=16 3&tid=4) was not found.

If you feel like it, mail the url, and where ya came from to

teens4christ bringin it to ya

Use it at home (5, Insightful)

SonicTooth (561342) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208241)

Install Linux at home. It's the best training you'll ever get. And then switch over your best friends and finally your grandparents. You'll be a pro in no time.

Re:Use it at home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208258)

Good advise.

And then I looked at your sig :D

Now, I am confused.

Re:Use it at home (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208259)

This is a good idea, but it won't cover all the things that he will need to do in a business setting.

Re:Use it at home (2, Informative)

theparanoidcynic (705438) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208274)

The key is learning on a hard distro, and sticking with it until you master the damn thing. I started my Linux career with Slackware (although I did know sh from my required "introduction to unix" course so I wasn't that fucked.)

Was that wise? I doubt it, but I'm nothing if not stubborn. ;)

Re:Use it at home (1)

stratjakt (596332) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208509)

Slackware is a "hard" distro? I think the installer and package manager aren't too bad. It's no portage or apt-get but it's alright.

My first linuxes were rolled by hand, though.

It tought me a lot about the computer, and it's useful stuff as a programmer, but I can't say it taught me shit about real-life network administration.

I mean, you need a real-life network to fuck around with.

Pick the hardest Distro (4, Informative)

Dark Coder (66759) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208318)

By picking the hardest distro such as an older Slackware (don't knock the new ones), you've essentially master-micro-managed all aspect of Linux administration in virtually no time.

It's no different than mastering the DOS 3.3 command set and scripting; just [infinitely?] more commands scripting, languages and widgets at your disposal.

Re:Use it at home (4, Insightful)

zangdesign (462534) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208330)

Set up a small, representative network at home - don't bother making it work like you would use a home machine, but rather concentrate on how the company would need it.

Re:Use it at home (0, Redundant)

BSDape (807290) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208331)

Slackware is be the distro to begin with.

Re:Use it at home (2, Informative)

wnarifin (800540) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208484)

Install one distribution (I'd prefer Fedora Core 1), then [] , then [] . Free, but takes time.

Re:Use it at home (5, Informative)

damiangerous (218679) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208491)

Install Linux at home. It's the best training you'll ever get.

No, it's not. When you just install a distro at home and start using it you'll learn a lot, sure. But what you'll learn a scattershot and mostly just what you need to do to get a functional system, because that's what your incentive is to do. You won't learn best practices and you won't learn why things are they way they are. Heck you probably won't even learn about some fairly basic tools just because you didn't happen to need them. You really need the formality of a structured learning environment (not a class, specifically, but a structured curriculum at least) to make sure you cover everything you need to know.

I know it seems to be the number one recommended method here on Slashdot, but it really has some serious flaws that everyone seems to conveniently overlook. Following your advice leads to sloppiness and "good enough"-ness. Not exactly skills that will endear you to an employer.

Real life (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208242)

Yes, some people mock Gentoo, but installing it is once of the best linux learning experices I've ever had. Even if you don't end up running it, it'll teach you a good bit about the internals. The documentation is pretty good as well.

Re:Real life (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208338)

Yes, some people mock Gentoo, but installing it is once of the best linux learning experices I've ever had. Even if you don't end up running it...

Still waiting for it to finish compiling, eh?

Re:Real life (1)

spacepimp (664856) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208414)

ive been installing gentoo for the last 2 days.. i figured i wanted to see how easy it was to install kde, as a gui for the experience and just for fun. it has now been compiling on my pc (800 mhz and 128mb of ram ) for 12 hours. best learning experience ive had yet with linux, as a newbie, but im amazed at how long its taking to compile. hopefully before i go to sleep.

Set up a home system first (5, Insightful)

AJWM (19027) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208246)

Set up a firewall, web server, mail server etc, play with the hardware, reconfigure the things, set up raid, lvm, etc.

Nothing beats hands on, and nobody I've interviewed for a sysadmin job (and I've done quite a few recently) who didn't have a setup at home was any good.

Re:Set up a home system first (4, Informative)

Bistronaut (267467) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208351)

I totally second this.

I'll add that I think that the best distro to learn the guts of Linux on is Gentoo. Go the full compile-it-yourself route. There are easy to follow, step by step instructions, and they take the time to tell you why you're doing everything. By the time you have it installed (and it will take a while), you'll be a virtual expert on Linux.

Of course, you shouldn't limit yourself to just one distro, and Gentoo probably isn't the easiest to manage. I like Debian stable for server things because it is so easy to keep up to date.

Re:Set up a home system first (4, Insightful)

mo (2873) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208358)

Just to add to this, I'd like to point out a reason why this is a good idea.

In taking a class, the instructor tells you directly how to do something. You may or may not retain the information long enough to reuse it the next time you have to, say, install qmail.

However, doing it yourself at home will teach you that all-imporant skill of how to google for linux howto information on the web.

I've done a couple of qmail installs in my lifetime, but any knowledge I've gained has long been forgotten. Except for the fact that I know that [] is the place I go to re-learn what to do.

Re:Set up a home system first (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208370)

Not only that, but get a few PCs, some switches (don't have to be good ones) and some wifi gear, a couple of windows clients at the very least if not some macs and stuff, and figure out ways to get maximum connectivity between all of them. A bunch of 486s will probably work for most of your linux systems, especially if you're willing to work with older versions of Linux for most of your clients.

Set up ALL the major software packages in every category you can come up with. Learn to configure both primary desktop environments. Install everything ISC has written and use it for something. Learn apache! Install php with it. Do something with perl. apache with php is your ultimate quick-and-dirty web tool, unless you elect to use apache with perl cgi or mod_perl. perl is your quick and dirty everything tool.

Do something that requires patching your kernel - PPTP VPN with MPPE/MPPC (For windows PPTP VPN clients) is one example, and the thing that I have to patch my kernels for. Install something from cvs, including compiling it. Set up both sendmail and qmail (probably not at the same time.) I found qmail+vqadmin+vpopmail+qmail-scanner to be an enlightening exercise and I've been using linux religiously (though seldom exclusively) since about kernel 1.1.47, a fair while.

The more machines you have the more relevant your knowledge is likely to be in the end. After all, the network is the computer, right? :)

Re:Set up a home system first (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208438)

I agree with parent. Setting up at home is a great way to learn. Try it on several different machines with different configurations if possible. Getting hardware to work on Linux isn't as bad as it used to be, and you really don't have to recompile the kernel anymore, either.

There are a few good books availalble. O'Reilly books, theres a book called "how linux works" and i believe even one called "Linux for New users" or something (neither of those by oreilly) and here's a website i found doing quick google search: here [] it looks a little dated but should still work for you

also you can find a ton of information on whatever youre trying to do. when i was learning IP chains i simply googled and found many pages and had it running in no time. and i think samba comes with an old version of an orielly book in html format with it.

Re:Set up a home system first (3, Informative)

Wugger (17867) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208453)

For an office sysadmin, using it at home is a start, but not the end of the journey. Get yourself a lab. You will need three computers, a linux to be your "server", a linux to be a "client" and a windows to be a "client". (If you have more than one Win32 OS in your office, add one client of each type to your lab.)

Now, start playing. Basic install on your server, play with the interface for a bit. Get out the "Linux Network Administrator's Guide" and read it cover to cover. Read the Samba documentation in equal detail. Make a checklist of all the services you will need to support (DHCP server, DHCP client, Samba, Mail, WWW, FTP) and try them out. Get your test lab working with them.

Now, play harder. Try to make Samba a domain controller. Set up RAID on your Linux server. Do some NFS to your Linux client. A big stack of Linux books, a personal lab, and a workplan of things to try and make work will get you fully trained up, probably several years faster than I took learning a little at a time. :)

Re:Set up a home system first (2, Funny)

suckmysav (763172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208481)

"Nothing beats hands on, and nobody I've interviewed for a sysadmin job (and I've done quite a few recently) who didn't have a setup at home was any good"

I second that. It frustrates the hell out of your family though.

"Is the network broken? Again?"

"Err, yeah, I'm just working on something, sorry!, I'll have it back soon, I promise!"



It's funny though, a lot of MS "sysadmins" have networks at home yet it doesn't seem to do any good for their skill levels, most of the time anyway.

TrainingCamp for LPIC (5, Informative)

Semireg (712708) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208248)

I did a 6-day bootcamp style training session with TrainingCamp [] . I successfully attained my LPIC-1. Out of the 6 people in my class 2 (including myself) had previous Linux experience and we both passed, the others failed. However, having many coworkers and friends that are teaching themselves linux, this would have given them one of the best starting points around. Highly recommended no matter what your skill level.

Zoology (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208251)

I like sharks

Take a week... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208253)

and have a look here: []

Don't stress (-1, Troll)

Slashbot Hive-Mind (810267) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208254)

I work as a consultant for several fortune 500 companies, and I think I can shed a little light on the climate of the open source community at the moment. I believe that part of the reason that open source based startups are failing left and right is not an issue of marketing as it's commonly believed but more of an issue of the underlying technology. I know that that's a strong statement to make, but I have evidence to back it up! At one of the major corps(5000+ employees) that I consult for, we wanted to integrate the shareware version of Linux into our server pool. The allure of not having to pay any restrictive licensing fees was too great to ignore. I reccomended the installation of several boxes running the new 2.4.9 kernel, and my hopes were high that it would perform up to snuff with the Windows 2k boxes which were(and still are!) doing an AMAZING job at their respective tasks of serving HTTP requests, DNS, and fileserving. I consider myself to be very technically inclined having programmed in VB for the last 8 years doing kernel level programming. I don't believe in C programming because contrary to popular belief, VB can go just as low level as C and the newest VB compiler generates code that's every bit as fast. I took it upon myself to configure the system from scratch and even used an optimised version of gcc 3.1 to increase the execution speed of the binaries. I integrated the 3 machines I had configured into the server pool, and I'd have to say the results were less than impressive... We all know that linux isn't even close to being ready for the desktop, but I had heard that it was supposed to perform decently as a "server" based operating system. The 3 machines all went into swap immediately, and it was obvious that they weren't going to be able to handle the load in this "enterprise" environment. After running for less than 24 hours, 2 of them had experienced kernel panics caused by Bind and Apache crashing! Granted, Apache is a volunteer based project written by weekend hackers in their spare time while Microsft's IIS has an actual professional full fledged development team devoted to it. Not to mention the fact that the Linux kernel itself lacks any support for any type of journaled filesystem, memory protection, SMP support, etc, but I thought that since Linux is based on such "old" technology that it would run with some level of stability. After several days of this type of behaviour, we decided to reinstall windows 2k on the boxes to make sure it wasn't a hardware problem that was causing things to go wrong. The machines instantly shaped up and were seamlessly reintegrated into the server pool with just one Win2K machine doing more work than all 3 of the Linux boxes. Needless to say, I won't be reccomending Linux/FSF to anymore of my clients. I'm dissappointed that they won't be able to leverege the free cost of Linux to their advantage, but in this case I suppose the old adage stands true that, "you get what you pay for." I would have also liked to have access to the source code of the applications that we're running on our mission critical systems; however, from the looks of it, the Microsoft "shared source" program seems to offer all of the same freedoms as the GPL. As things stand now, I can understand using Linux in academia to compile simple "Hello World" style programs and learn C programming, but I'm afraid that for anything more than a hobby OS, Windows 98/NT/2K are your only choices.

Wha? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208277)

Tip: Use
to create blank lines in your post


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208310)

<BR />
Have a nice day.

What is <BR /> exactly? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208336)

What is <BR /> exactly? It's not HTML.

Re:What is exactly? (1, Offtopic)

theolein (316044) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208452)

welcome to xhtml.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208449)



have a nice day

Clue: Pull your head out and see the light (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208316)

Clue: Pull your head out and see the light. We don't need no stinkin' badges.


Damn funny! Mod the parrent UP! (1, Informative)

iamatlas (597477) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208360)

Damn Funny stuff here! I mean, come on:

from the looks of it, the Microsoft "shared source" program seems to offer all of the same freedoms as the GPL.

And, I think my personal fave:

VB can go just as low level as C and the newest VB compiler generates code that's every bit as fast

woooo!, oh man, I can't stop laughing. please, someone make it stop!

Re:Damn funny! Mod the parrent UP! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208531)

the newest VB compiler generates code that's every bit as fast

I can't stop laughing. please, someone make it stop!

Well, except that particular bit is true. A well done runtime environment like the Java VM and Microsoft's CLR are going to run pretty much as fast as natively compiled code. But then, if it all comes out the same in the end why would anyone want to subject themselves to VB? For your own sanity, at least learn C# instead.

Re:Don't stress (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208483)

"... Linux kernel itself lacks any support for any type of journaled filesystem, memory protection, SMP support..."

This guy has to be smoking smoking something and I am a believer in commercial software!!!

Go RedHat (5, Informative)

buchalka (416106) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208256)

Personally I'd recommend the RedHat training.

This will be more of benefit to you if you actually are going to use RedHat, but of course the general principles will apply.

If I were you, I'd also get Linux on a home machine and start "fiddling" to get up to speed.

Maybe install Vmware or a similar product so you can try different things.

Personally I took a leap and went from Windows to Gentoo [] linux and never looked back!

Good luck with it.

You could dual-boot an existing Windows machine or run VMWARE so you c

Re:Go RedHat (1)

Stevyn (691306) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208422)

I did the same thing with Gentoo. I went from windows to mandrake to gentoo. Gentoo is good because you have a little more control of what happens to your system. Some people say that they learned a ton from just installing, but I think they're a little mistaken. Installing Gentoo will give you more experience and knowledge than installing say Mandrake. This is probably because you'll have to fiddle and fudge it more, but it's worth it in the end. If you work for a big company, see if you can get an extra computer lying around. Install every distro you can. The best way to learn is to use because you'll hit a wall and need to figure out how to climb over it.

Re:Go RedHat (1)

buchalka (416106) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208513)

Yeah I totally agree with this.

Having used Redhat, Mandrake, Slackware I never really "got" linux.

Once I tried out gentoo I really started to understand how it hangs together.

Am I a linux guru now? Nope, But what I am is comfortable in a linux environment and happily pushing it to others like me.

Of course the other advantage of using gentoo is the "USE" flags where you can ensure that all programs on your system are completely configured for your hardware and setup.

End result for me was a much faster system containing only those programs/utilities I have decided to load, and not what a vendor has "decided" I need.

If you are struggling to make the "linux leap" look at gentoo (and be prepared to invest a bit of time) you won't look back.

Now if only I could get Quickbooks working in WINE I could remove my windows partition completely.

Online courses... (5, Informative)

chrispyman (710460) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208261)

If I were you I'd stay away from an online course. From what I've found, they usually aren't much better than just reading and doing reseach on your own, the only diffrence is that they have exams and it adds to your GPA. Perhaps you should find a real class of some type (perhaps one of those weekend campy type deals) and get some real world hands on experience.

1st post = awesome (1, Redundant)

bprice20 (709357) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208262)

I recommend installing a distro like fedora, debian, or slackware and just getting everyting to work... then you'll come up w/ other things to try, you learn as you go

Stick w/the books (2, Interesting)

RealBeanDip (26604) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208264)

I see you mentioned the O'reilly books - they are the best. I found Unix Power Tools and System Administration (Alein Frisch, sp?) to be the best books you can buy.

As far as online course, I haven't found any worth a sh*t.

just a thought (3, Insightful)

wrinkledshirt (228541) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208271)

In addition to whatever training you want to do, audit your office for its current tech needs. If time is short, you might not want to spend too much time studying minutiae unrelated to your future tasks -- some of that time can be put to better use preparing for the switch away from Windows.

Just a thought.

Are You Crazy!?! (5, Insightful)

eSims (723865) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208280)

Take the offsite training!

These days it is difficult enough to get training (at least in the corp America I work in) let alone offsite. A whole week to do nothing but dig in and learn. Take it... then on your own you can always do self paced work and such... it's a win-win.

Good Luck!

Re:Are You Crazy!?! (3, Funny)

barzok (26681) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208385)

Not only dig in & learn, you get to go on a trip on the company dime! Once class is over for the day, check out the city, meet up w/ friends for dinner, catch a baseball/basketball/hockey game, whatever. Turning a company-sponsored trip into a mini-vacation is what offsite training is all about!

No, seriously. If the class starts on a Monday, fly out Friday and stay with a friend for 2 nights. You'll actually save the company money on airfare by staying over a Saturday night.

Just a thought (3, Insightful)

drgonzo59 (747139) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208284)

Ask a friend o someone else you know that has some experience to share it. People who love linux often love it because they learned it as hobby and those are the people who usually like to share the knowledge and help others learn it. But if the company has the money to spend, give that a try. Also read through the HOWTOs those helped me.

Out of the frypan and into the FIRE ! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208286)

Out of the frypan and into the FIRE ! (Dummy)


Ummm, where do you work? (2, Insightful)

hendridm (302246) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208290)

...and are they hiring?

If I even mention "training" where I work the laughs can be heard clearly from the other side of the planet. Funny how an organization that is so gainst paying for anything is staunchly anti-Open Source.

Hands on experience (4, Funny)

penguinoid (724646) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208304)

It seems quite a few geeks are recommending hands on experience as the way to go for learning linux. At risk of sounding like an offtopic troll, I would also recommend hands on as a way to learn about girls. No, not hands on *that*! Hands on the girl!

I bet that I now lost my reputation for being a geek.

Re:Hands on experience (4, Funny)

Master of Transhuman (597628) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208448)

"I bet that I now lost my reputation for being a geek."

Why? Have you established you've ever had hands on a girl?

You have, however, established a reputation for being unable to communicate in correct English...:-) (Okay, it was a typo, relax.)

The kind they have in Hawaii (3, Informative)

Xoro (201854) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208305)

Seriously, get your co to pay for training in the most interesting setting they'll allow, where you can score a free lunch.

If you have time to "take your time", where you'll really learn is by installing at home. Have the co fork over for VMWare, and set yourself up with a nice virtual network on your home machine. You'll learn way more than through any online training course. You may even want to do this for a few weeks before starting the official training course.

This is a little off beat, but if you're totally new to unix, it might be helpful to nab a copy of Solaris x86 and put that in a vmware machine. I hate to admit this, but when I was starting I had a hard time understanding the linux man pages. The Solaris documentation was just luxurious, and the main options for commands pretty much the same. It used to be (maybe still is) free so you can probably get a copy someplace.

Good luck.

Read, Ask, and Use (1)

panth0r (722550) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208306)

First off, read on your own, somebody else teaching you is not comparible to you teaching yourself, so read, study, or do whatever you have to do to learn what you can about Linux, personally, it's how I did it. Secondly, ask, there are many easily-accessable forums out there to help you with the endevour that is Linux. Lastly, I fully agree with the person who said you should use Linux at home.

Best way to `learn` Linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208312)

Install gentoo. Seriously, it teaches you how everything works and plugs in together from the ground up.

Slashdot Training (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208313)

I recommend the Slashdot Training Course. Read every Slashdot article, including every comment, for a week. For your final exam, try to get mod points within 24 hours.

OT-Re:Slashdot Training (0, Offtopic)

v1 (525388) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208529)

The mod pts thing is easy, though I don't know why. I usually get them in waves... 5 on Monday, spent by Wednesday, 5 more on Thursday, repeat the pattern for about 2 wks straight, then quiet for 1-3 weeks and it starts all over again.

I dunno how I does it, I just does it. Maybe it's my post frequency, maybe my karma. *shrug*

prepare to READ (0)

Nate Fox (1271) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208315)

read howto's, read readme's, read INSTALL's, read everything. Linux, while being much more powerful and capable than windows, isn't all point and click. you'll have to change settings in files, and you'll have to read to know which settings to change

HOWTO's (1)

glrotate (300695) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208486)

Most Linux HOWTO's are horribly out of date. Many aren't even updated for 2.4. Not terribly usefull unless you want a historical perspective.

LPI: Far Better Than RedHat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208321)

RedHat is distro specific, while LPI is distro independent. LPI certs are more respected for this fact. The RHCE was only good for 2 major releases, don't know how it is now that there's no RedHat free distro.

Literature: sg/books/lpi-bo ok.html

There's also SAIR:

Get a laptop (1)

Nuclear Elephant (700938) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208322)

Get your boss to buy you a laptop and install Linux on it - the countless hours you spend up pulling your hair out at night will be the best training money can buy.

Re:Get a laptop (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208542)

Just not a centrino laptop ;)

hands on (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208328)

Online classes, books, tutorials are all very good. After going through all of that the best way to learn is by messing around with your companies distro of choice on generic x86 hardware to get a feel for Linux. The finaly step is to get your companies hardware of choice and play around with the distro on that.

online (1)

l33t m4st3r (672779) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208329)

personly i would not recomend an online corse. ive seen the online corse that i cant take at my school. not very good. but i guess it depends where you go. i know that i will be never take an online corse. it seems easier to talk to an actual person when learning. i guess im just rambling, but thats my $0.02

Geek Cruise... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208332)

Heh - if my company were footing the bill - I'd go for one of them Carribean geek-cruises. :)

Realistically - aside from the "install at home" and "online courses suck" and "go to TLDP" - find a local Linux Users Group. Nothing at all beats face to face and it's value is compounded by the fact that it's hard to come up with months of future questions in a 5 day class - having a group of people you can sit down with any time goes miles to improving your skills with Linux. They'll often see things you'll miss or not be taught.

Lucky (2, Funny)

dance2die (596340) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208333)

My company will pay for any Linux training I choose You are one of the Luckiest bastard I know...

what direction? (1)

cabodine (664424) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208334)

In what capacity are you to learn Linux? What does your company do? This needs to be answered before you can get a idea of what you will need. I my self was and am a Windows Admin, I also in the last year have started to learn linux. I feel the best way to learn is to jump in and start doing. But not knowing what you plan to do makes it hard to give any advice. I come from a art back ground and have supported art students in a educational enviroment, my current job is much the same. It breaks down to supporting the users apps and helping them over come problems and limitations. To try and go from know almost nothing about linux to where I am now It would be impossible. I have been slow to sit down and read any book from cover to cover about Linux. I have stumbled my way through most of it and have formed or understood why things must be done a certain way. This only comes from using it not reading about it and not from using it in a controlled enviroment. My suggestion is get you feet wet and then come back and request train in specific areas not in Linux in general. I am not sure it there is realy apoint here but that is 2 cents is.

Find a local consultancy... (1)

DragonWyatt (62035) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208335)

Find a local consultancy (ask around, get recommendations, and perform interviews, maybe start with your local sage group [] ) that's full of a bunch of Unix gurus, and contract one or two to act as mentors for about two weeks. Do not settle for anyone with less than about 7 years experience with Unix, and 5 years experience with Linux. Make sure and have a list of tasks (setup an email server, setup a webserver, configure backups, that kind of thing) that are indicative of your needs, as exercises which will help you learn the platform. These folks will be top-notch- do not expect to pay $40-60/hour "Windowz" type rates. For an 80 hour engagement, $12,000 per guru would not be unusual. Negotiate a money-back guarantee at least based on your task list as a set of deliverables. (We do this frequently).

After your two weeks, make sure you contract with either the same company, or RedHat (or whomever) for ongoing escalation support for when you get stuck.

I'm a strong proponent of the mentor approach. I've been on both sides and can attest to the success, IF you have a good mentor. Books are a good reference, and a class is a good generic 'crash approach', but consider how valuable it would be to have a guru or two immersed in your environment, with you and your staff present and participating.

This link [] might also help you find good mentors.

Good luck!

Vendor-specific vs. Vendor-neutral Training (4, Insightful)

base_chakra (230686) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208337)

If "someone" recommended Red Hat eLearning, I assume your company is adopting Red Hat? At the outset eLearning might be a reasonable choice, but if you really want to understand Linux, you'll probably want to laern more than just the Red Hat way of doing things. Experiment with Fedora or Red Hat 9 at home; then, after a few months, test a distribution that doesn't rely centrally on RPM and you'll gain a new, edifying perspective.

Install Gentoo (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208339)

I agree that installation and hands on is the best thing...You will blow up an install 20+ times before you get it down pat, but after that you can do it in your sleep.. The thing is that your a admin allready, meaning you know what you want to do just not how to do it. [] they have THE BEST INSTALL MANUAL and the BEST FORUMS I have ever seen for any OS. and right off the bat you are installing linux from scratch so you can get a real hands experience. After that you can tailor that experience to your linux installation of choice.

I liked O'Reilly training (1)

frankbaird (806080) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208342)

I have taken the first 2 O'Reilly courses. I liked them and learned a lot. I liked the free books too. I think I learned more than I would have at the local community college, and I have been able to apply what I learned at work. However, I'm sure that even these courses only scratch the surface. I would also recommend O'Reilly's Unix Power Tools book.

While we are recommending books: Systems Admin.... (1)

Fallen Kell (165468) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208534)

Go get the venerable "Red Book" (well now it is purple). Its the Unix Systems Admin book. A truely must have reference book if you are going to be dealing with Unix (Solaris, HP-UX), OS X, or Linux. It does a very good job covering most of the bases of running and configuring systems to do the most common business level jobs and applications (setting up hard drives, raid, networking, email, printing, network file sharing, account management, group management, backups, using tape drives, etc., basically just about all your day to day things that you will have to deal with).

It depends what you're working with (0, Redundant)

MysteriousMystery (708469) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208345)

It depends on what you're working with, a lot of the suggestions on installing it at home and messing around are quite frankly more effective than taking any class, provided it is for desktop use only. If you plan to learn Apache, or various mail system administration look into formal training like what is offered by the Linux Professional Instute at Red Hat offers nice training but in a lot of ways they teach skills that are related specificly to utilties used only or primarily by their distribution which can be a problem if you plan to use other products in the future.

Jump in with both feet! (1)

lesburn1 (93956) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208346)

Jump in with both feet. Uset it at home, make the switch at work on your desk top. Don't let them tell you that you still will need msOutLook.(lookOut)

Like anything worth doing.... it takes time. (2, Informative)

Neo-Rio-101 (700494) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208349)

I agree with everyone else who says that you need hands on starting in your own home and in your own time.

I found that the O'Reilly books are really good, but their LPI in a nutshell is not the be all and end all of LPI study materials at all (if you're interested in going for level 1 of that). Sometimes the man pages will do - but more often than not, they won't cut the mustard.

One by one you'll have to go through getting different Linux servers up and running... starting with the old faithful Apache, BIND, qmail, NTP, FTP, SSH, Samba, Net-SNMP, etc., and once you've done setting up all of those, try your hand and some of the other more obscure open source projects out there and get them compiled.
Stuff like Nagios, MRTG, Big Sister, IPsec tools (freeswan, KAME), learn how to craft a firewall with iptables, try encrypting a file system with dmsetup, etc.

Don't stick to one distribution. Try as many of the free ones as possible. Each has thier own strengths and weaknesses,... not to mention different locations for config files, and different methods of package installation.

Enlist to as many mailing lists and IRC groups as possible..., then unsubscribe when you're email box can't cope anymore.

Compiling the Linux kernel is a right of passage for all admins.

Leanr how to write a shell script, and don't be tempted to play with X windows or all of RedHat's easy to use configuration programs too much.

Finally, be patient - this takes time, and drink lots and lots of coffee and keep a supply of hair on your head for occasional ripping out. You'll need it.

Good results from Worcester Polytech (1)

jakedata (585566) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208352)

I had been administering Windows boxes since the first betas of NT, but I just couldn't wrap my head around Linux.

Concerned about my then-current job, I paid for this training out of my own pocket, and it was well worth it.

It is intense, 3 days a week for 6 months. There are 11 books, and multiple projects. And I got a lovely certificate at the end.

Novell. (1)

marcushnk (90744) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208362)

Novell's training is GOOD stuff... well worth looking their gear up.

do it yourself (1)

gsergiu (585096) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208365)

it's the only advice that i can give you. set yourself some goal (I want to be able to do this or that), search on google and do it.
every training that I saw (participated) taught me nothing that i couldn't found on google :) .

Junior colleges (1)

twigles (756194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208368)

I had a class at a local junior college that was really good. The department was using RH 7/8/9 (at the time no one really knew what was happening bc redhat fired out major release numbers so fast) but the instructor *made* us use the command line for everything. He taught basic scripting and vi, how to lock down the box, how to install things via source and rpm and keep them updated. I did the course on FBSD and someone the previous semester used Solaris, so the material largely transfered all over. Tons of stuff, and the kicker was the price - the course cost about $100 and was a semester long (3 hours/week).

So look around for junior colleges in your area, a lot of them are branching out from the "Get your MCSE in 90 days" crap and teaching all sorts of things like Oracle/SQL, Perl, Unix or whatever. The price is almost always better than what you'll find anywhere else too, although the pace may be a bit slower than what you want.

Oh yeah, the course was at Saddleback College in Orange County. The teacher was Jeff Dorsz (spelling?). I would recommend him to anyone.

Books are the best... (2, Informative)

tajmorton (806296) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208374)

Get the book Linux for Windows Administrators by Mark Minasi and Dan York. (Amazon [] )

It is really an exelent book with so-called "Cookbooks". They're step-by-step instructions on how to setup DHCP, DNS, Apache, Sendmail, FTP, WINS (I think), and some other stuff I forgot. Even I could figure it out! They were really simple instructions, and, better yet--they really worked!.

So, that's the book I learned from. It's based off RH 7.3, but the instructions worked fine also with Slackware (9-10) and RH 8.

[No I don't get kickbacks].

Hmm... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208378)

I've been a Windows admin the last 5 years and have been asked to learn Linux. [...] I'd like to take my time and really learn it.
Hmmm, posting this on Slashdot. You are looking for some friends aren't you?...

LFS is the best teacher out there (0, Redundant)

dsettanni (743420) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208380)

Install a linux system at home (I prefer SlackWare [] ), then perform an install of linux from scratch [] . I think its probably the best teacher out there as you actually see what components are getting installed on the system and get a little of the why. There will probably be some intricacies in whatever distro you pick but that will give you a very solid background. Also, pick up Unix power tools [] from somewhere - learning the tools inside that book is a better education then any class I ever took.

Re:LFS is the best teacher out there (1)

dsettanni (743420) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208413) [] - oops

Python (0, Offtopic)

mslinux (570958) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208388)

Learn Python. It works on Linux & Windows as well as Macs (if you have any). It's the best cross-platform scripting language out there and it makes automating common sys-admin tasks easy. We use it for generating reports and monitoring Lin & Win systems.

SANS (1)

smoon (16873) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208392)

Sans [] offers some great security training, which while not a general "Intro to Linux" does provide some very intensive insight into securing Unix/Linux.

Books can be good, but research them carefuly before you plop down $50 for "linux unleashed" or some other crap book.

Some good books to look at:
UNIX System Administration Handbook (3rd Edition)
by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Scott Seebass, Trent R. Hein [THE classic Unix admin book, this edition also has some Linux-specific stuff]

Linux Administration Handbook
by Evi Nemeth, Garth Snyder, Trent Hein, Trent R. Hein [Similar to the above, but all Linux specific. Get both if you can.]

Many (not all) OReilly books (especially older ones) tend to be excellent references, e.g. DNS and BIND, Learning the vi editor, Sendmail, Practical UNIX and Internet security, Programming Perl, etc.

One problem you may face is that "Linux" in the "I just installed Suse" sense, is much more than Windows. Where in Windows you'd need to cover basic setup, network config, active directory, basic security, and maybe web server config, in Linux you have all of that plus the functional equivalent of SQL server, Visual Studio, dozens of programming languages, Office, etc.

Good luck! It's a fun ride once you get the hang of it.

Re:SANS (1)

killergreen (686694) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208512)

I'm a networking instructor at a technical college. I was the primary instructor for our Linux/UNIX offering, and found the "...Linux Bible" series by Christopher Negus invaluable. A hands-on approach, coupled with a textbook that could double as a reference for years to come. I still highly recommend this series to anyone wanting to learn Linux.

change jobs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208404)

Set up a home network? Sure, if you want to spend all your free time essentially at work. Switch your friends and grandparents?? Any slashdotters here who'd rather slit their wrists than become their parents/granparents/friends sole support person? Go to school? What, a school without any chicks? or maybe one decent chick that's so tired of being hit on by geeks that she's switched teams?
You'll spend ALL your time learning this stuff and when people have problems, they'll ask you "What was it??" and you'll go "I dunno.. but I know how to fix it!" and they'll go "But *what* was it, so it doesn't happen again?" and then you'll be arrested for assault because that's the way you'll react after spending ALL your waking moments for the past 2 years stuffing your brain full of esoteric stuff.
Trust me. Change Careers. You'll thank me later.

At home with a good book (or books) (1)

JoeCommodore (567479) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208405)

I find the Red Hat Linux Bible to be a good crash course, everything on the book is in the distribution on the cover (except possibly sources which you can download). Does a general overview of all the aspects. Though like the others you sould take a few days hands-on which would get yourself quickly in sync with the system and make the reading less tedious.

Just do it (1)

Colonel Panic (15235) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208420)

Set up a Linux box at home. It can be an old machine that's not able to run WinXP.

As far as distros go, you could choose whichever distro they plan to run at work. If they haven't selected one yet you could try the Xandros Free version for now to get your feet wet - it's supposed to be quite easy to set up. Or you could try one of the liveCDs like Knoppix for a while. After that if you really want to learn all of the ins & outs I would suggest Gentoo - you'll learn a lot setting it up since they don't have much in the way of easy install tools yet. Gentoo makes you dig into a lot of stuff to get it installed. After you install Gentoo, you'll have learned a lot.

Set up a small net in your work lab (5, Informative)

SCHecklerX (229973) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208429)

As many others have suggested, you should play on your own. I'd still take the class though. Set up a small network BEFORE going to the class, though. Then you will have intelligent questions to ask, and you will have some goals in your training.

In your work lab get 2-3 computers. Set up a linux box as a DHCP and DNS server, then maybe add apache, samba, etc. These are the things that you'll likely be using linux for in the enterprise, right? You can play with firewalling and IPSec if that is your thing too.

After the initial install, go here to learn the rest:
The Linux Documentation Project []

The basic sysadmin guide there will give you the basics, and the specific howto's are great for setting up DHCP, DNS, etc.

Another good guide:
IBM Linux Newbie Guide []

Set up that small net, play, learn, then go to your class and learn a lot more.

Have fun!

LPI? (2, Insightful)

psyconaut (228947) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208451)

Might be a good career choice if certifaction rocks your (or your employers) boat.


Geek Cruises (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208461)

Their classes on a cruise ship. Seriously, Geek Cruises [] get some of the top people Larry W, etc. Check out their Convincing the boss [] section.

Be careful (1, Insightful)

hdparm (575302) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208464)

Admining Linux is not easy. Learning how to do it is, given you have plenty of time on your hands. You need to do huge amount of reading (howto_s, man pages, some good books) while actually DOING all that stuff on (at least) 2 connected computers. Once you're able to setup most common services without constantly refering to docos, you're well on your way.

I am not sure what distro is your company's choice but if you have an opportunity to do so, suggest Red Hat. Product is stable, support is unbelievably good, contains fair set of tools/facilities to ease sysadmin work, there are lots of resources around and there is a decent training/certificaton program available for it.

Whatever the choice though, make sure you do your advanced learning with the distro that will be installed at your place. And good luck.

Oooh so you wanna learn Linux huh? (1)

Cytlid (95255) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208471)


You get that 386 running, I don't care if it has 4 megs of ram, an ISA video card and 120 megs of hard drive space! I need it going PRONTO! Got it? Or yer butt is outta here!

And I don't want any whining, I want dual screen X11 running in 16 bit color, with apache and mysql and openldap, as well as samba.

And don't forget, no cdrom or network here, pal. WE'RE installing from floppies, and get plip going on your parallel port, real men don't have time for ethernet!

Oh and I also want it quad-booting ... 4 distributions, Fedora Core, Debian, Slackware and FreeBSD (make everyone happy).

That should do it.

Re:Oooh so you wanna learn Linux huh? (1)

chickenmonger (614989) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208528)

Oh and I also want it quad-booting ... 4 distributions, Fedora Core, Debian, Slackware and FreeBSD (make everyone happy).

So, effectively, you're suggesting that the poster attend multi-boot camp? (1)

junkwerks (586862) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208480)

Use it. I kinda like google/bsd nowadays.

Anything? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208485)

If they'll pay for anything, take one of those Geek Cruises where you find the likes of Torvalds and Wozniak. Or just hire somebody like Alan Cox or John "Maddog" Hall. If they say anything, surely that includes paying to have a guy named Maddog teach you...

John C. Dvorak, Dead at 52 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208487)


John C. Dvorak, dead at 52. Found at his home in Chula Vista, partially eaten. Gruesome.


Some Good Links (2, Informative)

teoryn (801633) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208490)

Here's a good online book: []

The best place for questions: []

More reading: []

You've seen the posts, now see the website! []

Dont learn Linux as such... (1)

carldot67 (678632) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208515)

Learn how to do your job first

There are several levels you will need to go through before you are proficient. Someone with unlimited time would do this:
a) Install Mandrake
b) Play a bit
c) get UNIX admin in a nutshell or some such
d) get tuition from a master sysadmin
e) learn
f) understand
g) gain enlightenment
h) install gentoo/bsd or something more server-y

UNfortunately time limitations mean you probably will need to do it this way around:
a) Install Fedora
b) Point a browser at localhost:10000 (webmin)
c) learn how to add/delete users
d) learn how to control samba (file shares)
e) learn how to control CUPS (printing)
f) learn how to configure networking, esp DHCP
g) learn how to run postfix and mysql

Learn how to replicate your current job functions using webmin. It's not too hard. There are other good management GUIS and such around. Once you can do your job then by all means get an old P90 and turn it into your personal plaything and gain true enlightenment via the command line.

It is always best that an engineer at any level UNDERSTANDS their systems. There is only one way to do that and it takes several years of practical experience and guidance. I think you will love Linux (and therefore *NIX) but it is fundamentally different to Windows so the UNDERSTANDING might take a while. In which case don't panic - UNIX is more logical IMHO.

Good luck and welcome to the party!

Prepare for emergencies (1)

mmmmmhotpants (800341) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208518)

Thinking proactively is the best quality in an administrator.

Learn to think like a hacker.

Learn about things you want to have during an emergency/failure (ghost, backups, knowing the hardware).

A proactively strong and robust system is the mark of a good administrator. If your system can survive and be revived when your companies need it most, everything else you can manage at your lesiure in the off-hours.

Invest in a LUG (1)

shuz (706678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10208519)

Most towns these days have at least one Linux users group. For learning I would A. Take a deep breathe, your entering a world that at times can have leetist s that would like no more then to see you fail so they can bring themselves up. With that in mind join the community and develop friendships with others that are both learning and those that are already experts. Remember that its always handy in a pinch to be able to reference a friend to see if they have had the same problem you are and often its more comfortable that way as well.
B. I would setup a computer has home that is a FULLTIME linux box. For the first time running linux your going to want to stick to something simple. My preference is Debian but Mandrake, fedora, and SuSE are all fairly easy to get into. If you are not familiar with programming,and extensible scripting then your in for an awakening and a treat.
C. Finally I would take a class from someone that is in the same room with you. Like a lot of other concepts Linux can have a lot of theory to learn without actually getting your feet wet. Unlike Microsoft products that you may be used to, there are a lot of hands-on techniques that I would venture to say can ONLY be learned by making a mistake and then seeing how you made the mistake. Trust me you learn so much more when you make a mistake and its better to make that mistake on a non-production machine(carefull with the command rm -rf).
With closing I'd like to remind you to never take the name of root in vain. Very much unlike Windows , root which is the same account as administrator, is often never used unless absolutely neccesary. Learn the command (su -), (pwd), and learn about sudo.
I wish you the very best of luck and please please please, HAVE FUN!

I'd find someone who knows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10208521)

Find someone who knows FreeBSD or Unix SysV. Dealing with a toy Un*x like Linux would be a piece of cake for him!
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