Windows Admin switching to *nix Admin

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The Lounge What is on Your Mind? Windows Admin switching to *nix Admin
# 1  
Old 02-23-2011
Windows Admin switching to *nix Admin

I'm currently a Windows admin and have wanted to jump ship to the *nix side for a while now. I've been studying both through an lpic level 1 manual as I have time (focusing on debian), and a solaris 10 cert book. The problem is I only have a handful of hours a week to study, and my current job offers no exposure to *nix. I guess my questions would be, what would be some small projects to work on at home (admin type, scripting, etc - I'm not really a programmer though) that would be similar to in a corporate environment (other than setting up a wordpress site, lamp environment, etc which is what other people have told me to do), and once I feel comfortable looking, what kind of a job would I look for? I'm in my mid 20's, have about 4 years of windows admin experience and 0 "real world" *nix measurable experience - would I just be looking for an intro *nix helpdesk/junior *nix role? Or should I be looking for a mixed Windows/*nix environment so I'm not restarting my career from scratch?

I figure there's a few people who have made a similar switch here. And I know there are similar forums, but there's always some new people willing to comment with ideas that haven't been posted before :-)
# 2  
Old 02-23-2011
One way would be courses and certifications of course, though my experience with them has been poor... Lots of canned problems and canned answers, sometimes some really distro-specific things not applicable anywhere else, and not a lot of help teaching you how to troubleshoot. You will need to learn the basics to make much sense of it of course; file permissions, users, ownership and groups, disks and partitions are radically different from Windows' organization.

Install a variety of UNIX or Linux on a computer of your own -- doesn't have to be on your 'good' computer, in fact, probably better it isn't in case something goes seriously wrong. Most any "throwaway" PIII/PIV with 512M of RAM or better is great for a home server. Linux technically isn't UNIX by the way -- in the strictest sense that means an OS literally descended from one of the original UNIX varieties, but Linux was made from scratch and distanced from UNIX for copyright reasons. FreeBSD, NetBSD, or OpenSolaris are open varieties of UNIX. Don't install one of the toy Linux varieties(Ubuntu, Knoppix, Mandriva, anything really graphically-oriented) -- the GUI pretty much takes over those and you won't learn a lot. Try Gentoo, or Debian, or Fedoracore.

And once you have it, seriously use it. Make a home webserver/fileserver, get SSH going for remote access, see what problems you have to fight through to make things work.

Last edited by Corona688; 02-23-2011 at 11:34 AM..
# 3  
Old 02-23-2011
About 10 years ago I was in a similar situation and age like you are, had 95% only worked with Windows servers and clients and had just made my MCSE. I switched my job to a AIX and Linux environment and dropped all that Windows experience at once and did not regret it at all.
I already liked to work typing in commands etc. in my little contact with Unix and Linux, instead of clicking around predefined options in some menues that just change names and places in new versions Smilie, waiting for patches to fix Blue Screens etc., rendering you somehow helpless (way back then).

Additionally to Corona's info, you might have a look at this:
The Linux System Administrator's Guide
About Debian Linux

In the second link there are some thingies on the left side which you could use as small projects.

Having a new job where your boss knows that your are somewhat new to the OS, letting you have some time to get familiar with it and some nice coworkers that are willing to show you things would be a good environment to get good skills. Having less of this and much preasure on you can work well to get you good skills, but you'll have a lot more stress and will often have to learn things the hard way.
This User Gave Thanks to zaxxon For This Post:
# 4  
Old 03-10-2011
all great suggestions but i would also like to add set up virtual machines with solaris and BSD. Also, some flavor of linux that you like. perhaps gentoo? that will keep you busy for a while.

then get them to do remote displays, ssh, learn the disk structures, useradd, usermod...etc. I switched a few years ago and love it. its quite the learning curve and fortunately i have a lot of unix machines here, especially Sun machines and a mock up of everything in a testbed. so i can break all i want and have to learn to fix it on my own. Its a hair pulling and frustrating event but the more you know the better off you are. it gets easier as you go along, what you thought was difficult a few weeks ago is now easy.

good luck!
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