Unix or Linux or CCNA?

13

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  • docricedocrice Member Posts: 1,706 ■■■■■■■■■■
    In response to the original post, if you're going to learn Unix or Linux, I'd suggest using a platform that's very common in the corporate enterprise. This will most likely be either Red Hat Enterprise Linux (you can use CentOS which is pretty much a binary replica of RHEL and it's free), or go OpenSolaris, although in general I've seen Solaris lose its popularity over the years, especially with the recent Oracle takeover.

    When installing Linux, don't even bother running a GUI. Unless you're going to be working in shops that run Linux on the desktop (not very common), most server installations will be command-line only with some exceptions such as Oracle installs. CLI takes a little getting used to if you come from the Windows world because of the way the directory structures are laid out, etc., but a little persistence at home pays off. I recall my experience with this switchover years ago when I first started dabbling in the *nix world trying to learn OpenBSD (which you can download the installer ISO free now, although I like supporting them by buying an actual copy of the official media since their code is so rock-solid and stable). Enterprise Linux deployments will typically be a minimized install meaning none of the extra fluff (no X environment for a GUI desktop, non-essential applications, etc.) so it's well-worth learning the command interface environment. I would hardly consider a candidate who wasn't versed in the CLI. Ubuntu's nice and has gotten more polished over the years, but most job descriptions I see refer to server management. This means manipulating services, editing configuration files, verifying current system resource usage, tailing logs, etc., all using typed commands.

    As for the CCNA track, a solid networking background is essential in *nix environments. You'll get some if that working with *nix in general, but nothing beats knowing how routers and switches work at a fundamental level. While you could in theory deploy Linux / iptables-based firewalls (or pf or whatever else), in reality I see most shops running dedicated appliances for network infrastructure functions. It's good to know iptables and the like to secure hosts themselves, however. Even though the CCNA is Cisco-centric, it still provides a lot of core fundamentals which make it well-worth it in my book as it emphasizes concepts like subnetting, OSI model, access lists, and basic protocols which can heavily relate to the *nix world.

    While GNS3 is great for CCNA studies (and you can simulate quite a few things such as frame-relay environments and routing scenarios with a dozen routers), sometimes you need to involve real switches which GNS3 can't really simulate. You can buy old Cisco gear (like 1700 and 2950 models) off eBay for relatively cheap ... and it's real working Cisco hardware that you can actually get hands-on with, console in, connect the wrong type of cables, etc.. Nothing beats that. I say this as someone who teaches a good majority of the same CCNA material to co-workers. I use both GNS3 and real gear in my training / mentoring sessions. If you can spare $100 or a bit more, then second-hand equipment is your friend (although you may need to watch your electricity bill).
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written: http://kimiushida.com/bitsandpieces/articles/
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    docrice wrote: »
    In response to the original post, if you're going to learn Unix or Linux, I'd suggest using a platform that's very common in the corporate enterprise. This will most likely be either Red Hat Enterprise Linux (you can use CentOS which is pretty much a binary replica of RHEL and it's free), or go OpenSolaris, although in general I've seen Solaris lose its popularity over the years, especially with the recent Oracle takeover.

    Side note:

    I have considered doing the SCSA(S). Do you think Solaris' popularity decline would lower the value of this cert (and the other Sun certs) significantly? I thought that being purchased by Oracle would help to boast Solaris' popularity. . .
  • docricedocrice Member Posts: 1,706 ■■■■■■■■■■
    I work in a corporation that is predominantly Solaris in-house, but I used to work in the company's support team that deployed our company's server software at customer sites. When I first started, there were a lot of Solaris installs. As the years went by, it became increasingly obvious that Linux was becoming a more common choice among our customers.

    That said, there are environments which I think Solaris is still a clear winner, depending on applications used, existing SPARC / Sun x86 hardware, etc.. I'm personally a little biased against Solaris however since I learned the *nix world through Linux and OpenBSD and the commands are slightly different between the two and doing some things in Solaris annoy me. They're just really minor points in the overall scheme of things though and it just makes me a platform fanboy. That doesn't make Solaris any less of an OS, but in my view I've seen less talk about Solaris over the years compared to Linux.

    I don't know how the future of Solaris may turn out. Oracle might champion it, or it may fizzle out. I think there are still a lot of Solaris shops out there and perhaps the SCSA may be worth it. ZFS is one feature that makes Solaris stand out a lot. I think I saw some news articles indicating that Oracle might put more investment into integrating the OS with their software, etc., so it might continue to grow.
    Hopefully-useful stuff I've written: http://kimiushida.com/bitsandpieces/articles/
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Interesting. Thanks for the follow up. How much *nix experience do you have by the way?
  • phoeneousphoeneous Go ping yourself... Member Posts: 2,333 ■■■■■■■□□□
    docrice wrote: »
    You can buy old Cisco gear (like 1700 and 2950 models) off eBay for relatively cheap ... and it's real working Cisco hardware that you can actually get hands-on with, console in, connect the wrong type of cables, etc.. Nothing beats that. I say this as someone who teaches a good majority of the same CCNA material to co-workers. I use both GNS3 and real gear in my training / mentoring sessions. If you can spare $100 or a bit more, then second-hand equipment is your friend (although you may need to watch your electricity bill).

    And for those with eBay-phobia, you can get a 2950G for $145. A bit pricey compared to eBay but working piece of mind is worth a few bucks. PM me if you want a link.
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    technique wrote: »
    Linux OR Unix would equip you with knowledge for becoming a system administration. CCNA is all about routers, switches and networks.


    I think you are generalizing it too much.
  • it_consultantit_consultant Member Posts: 1,903
    Not really. System Administration is really specific to the server platform you work with. CCNA does not help much with Windows Administration, which is my main role.

    I think its a good thing, to know 2 technologies. However, knowing cisco does not help with linux/unix/windows and vica versa.
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Not really. System Administration is really specific to the server platform you work with. CCNA does not help much with Windows Administration, which is my main role.

    I think its a good thing, to know 2 technologies. However, knowing cisco does not help with linux/unix/windows and vica versa.

    But the understanding of networking gained by studying for the CCNA is fundamental. A better networking understanding might make you a better admin.
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I disagree as well. I think having at least CCNA-level knowledge is very beneficial for systems administrators. Your servers don't communicate via hopes and dreams.
  • phantasmphantasm Member Posts: 995
    dynamik wrote: »
    I disagree as well. I think having at least CCNA-level knowledge is very beneficial for systems administrators. Your servers don't communicate via hopes and dreams.

    I would agree with that. Although at my last job the whole dang IT department ran on hopes and dreams. We hoped the servers wouldn't fail and we dreamed that if they did, we could replace with them something from this decade. meh.
    "No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man." -Heraclitus
  • it_consultantit_consultant Member Posts: 1,903
    Having more knowledge is preferable to having less. CCNA knowledge is good to have and will improve your career considerably. However, system administration and CCNA are fundamentally different skills.

    On the outset thinking "CCNA is really going to help me with systems admin" is just not correct IMO. CCNA will help with your job and making you a better employee but what we use in sysadmin roles is barely at the Network + level. In fact...I think the things that they teach in Network + is more applicable to sysadmins than CCNA is.

    Having said all that, getting the CCNA will never hurt you. If your going for a sysadmin job then taking the education track of the servers that are being used is step number one. I think the red hat professionals are in huge demand too, you may get more bang for your buck with that one.
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    Maybe I should have said systems engineering instead of systems administration to avoid a semantic argument. If you're doing design/planning, CCNA-level knowledge will make you better at your job.
  • it_consultantit_consultant Member Posts: 1,903
    I use sysadmin and sys-engineer interchangeably, so I am not going to argue semantics. Based on my experience, the Linux professionals I work with use very little CCNA knowledge. They absolutely understand the fundamentals of networking, but if you start rattling off terms specific to CCNA (VLANs, bridging, routing, etc) their eyes will glaze over.

    The original question was whether or not one should pursue network engineering (CCNA stuff) or linux / unix administration. In order to become a linux / unix administrator you really have to know sendmail, kerberos, apache, mySQL, etc. Absolutely nothing in the CCNA - CCIE will prepare you for those skills.

    I am not trying to devalue the CCNA, I hold it and it is helpful to me in my job which includes no only sysadmin roles (my specialty is exchange) but some network engineering where applicable.

    For *nix admins the focus of your education should be on those things that people utilize linux servers for.
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    They absolutely understand the fundamentals of networking, but if you start rattling off terms specific to CCNA (VLANs, bridging, routing, etc) their eyes will glaze over.

    Vlans aren't specific to the CCNA, neither is routing. I would consider that to be something universal. Maybe this is just a difference of experience but most of the *nix engineers I know seem to be very well verse in networking.
  • it_consultantit_consultant Member Posts: 1,903
    No, its specific to network engineering. The point is to actually do the job of a *nix admin there are far more important things to know than the CCNA curriculum. One would not be well served to learn CCNA to better themselves as a *nix admin. Instead, they would focus on Apache or mySQL.

    Many *nix guys know networking very well because they set up LANs in their house so they can practice their skills.
  • dynamikdynamik Banned Posts: 12,312 ■■■■■■■■■□
    I've repeatedly said CCNA-level. That can be referring to the equivalent level of knowledge with Juniper or whatever other vendor they're using. I'm really surprised to see you include VLANs in the unnecessary knowledge. Those are huge. Especially if you're working with ESX or another virtualization platform. Segregation is of paramount importance in those environments.

    I felt going through the CCNA along with Network Warrior made me a significantly better admin/engineer overall. I think it's obvious I'm not literally saying that by going through the CCNA you're going to get better at administering Exchange, shell scripting, or whatever. Also, just because something is working does not mean that it was set up optimally. I firmly believe that anyone responsible for any critical/high-performance servers should have that level of networking knowledge. They be able to alter their configurations that facilitate better performance, security, etc.

    Let me reiterate this though, I couldn't care less if they actually obtain a CCNA. In fact, I would prefer it if they didn't. That makes my resume look better icon_cool.gif
  • stuh84stuh84 Member Posts: 503
    For *nix admins the focus of your education should be on those things that people utilize linux servers for.

    I would have thought the focus for a professional would be to acquire whatever skills possible, that way you are never pidgeon-holed into one type of job, and are not limiting your options.
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  • HeeroHeero Member Posts: 486
    You can't learn everything, so focusing on things that people actually use is generally a good bet.
  • it_consultantit_consultant Member Posts: 1,903
    stuh84 wrote: »
    I would have thought the focus for a professional would be to acquire whatever skills possible, that way you are never pidgeon-holed into one type of job, and are not limiting your options.

    Normally I agree, however this is out of the scope of the original topic. The poster expressed an interest in Linux/Unix administration. I contend that to follow through with this goal you have to learn that platform. Professionally speaking its very good to have 2 skills, keeps you employable. However, since the original poster is not already a *nix admin, I feel he should focus on the education and training that will get him to that goal.
  • N2ITN2IT Inactive Imported Users Posts: 7,483 ■■■■■■■■■■
    phantasm wrote: »
    I know a CCNA who didn't know what telnet was. icon_rolleyes.gif


    Hahaha

    I suppose you didn't automatically assume he dumped or anything. icon_redface.gificon_lol.gif
  • Paul BozPaul Boz Member Posts: 2,620 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I was working pretty hard on the LPIC exams before I got my current job. I pretty much stopped because we're a 100% windows shop. I would definitely encourage you to develop Linux skills, because many of the best network management solutions are on Unix/Linux. I've noticed that networking and Linux go hand in hand. Many of the network engineers that I know somewhat resent MS (as petty as that is) so much of the networking space is populated by Unix admins.
    CCNP | CCIP | CCDP | CCNA, CCDA
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  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    Paul Boz wrote: »
    I've noticed that networking and Linux go hand in hand. Many of the network engineers that I know somewhat resent MS (as petty as that is) so much of the networking space is populated by Unix admins.

    What I am wondering is how long it takes to go from User to Helpdesk to Admin level in *nix and how to make sure employers know that. I am looking to get into the *nix administration and security but it seems like many employers want 5+ years of Linux/Unix/AIX/Solaros before they would even consider you. I have considered dropping my LPIC-1 studies and focusing on picking up the MCSA this year (since I am already going to do a MCP). My current job is like 99% percent windows and it is discouraging for someone who wants to go the other route. I am happy to be working though lol.

    I don't know. I think that in the short term I won't see the benefits (no one is going to jump to hire me for a linux job because of the LPIC-1) but as I progress further I might see the reward. We will see icon_thumright.gif
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,744 ■■■■■■■■■■
    knwminus wrote: »
    What I am wondering is how long it takes to go from User to Helpdesk to Admin level in *nix and how to make sure employers know that. I am looking to get into the *nix administration and security but it seems like many employers want 5+ years of Linux/Unix/AIX/Solaros before they would even consider you.

    I've wondered about this as well. What constitutes Admin level knowledge of Linux/Unix?

    For this reason I figure I should study for LPIC or Redhat so that I at least have a path that I can follow.
  • networker050184networker050184 Mod Posts: 11,962 Mod
    I've wondered about this as well. What constitutes Admin level knowledge of Linux/Unix?

    For this reason I figure I should study for LPIC or Redhat so that I at least have a path that I can follow.

    You know Greenville Tech gives RHCE courses right? They have the big Redhat sign on the technology building. I've been thinking about putting my GI Bill to use a few nights a week there (probably not the Redhat courses though).
    An expert is a man who has made all the mistakes which can be made.
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    I've wondered about this as well. What constitutes Admin level knowledge of Linux/Unix?

    You know, that is the million dollar (or at least several thousand question). With MS there is a clear path, MCITP:EST/EDST for desktop admin level, MCITP:SA/EA for server level and various other MCTS and MCITPs for speciality technologies. With the LPIC it basically goes, JR, Mid and SR making it (IMO) much more difficult to show your skillset and knowledge level. Red Hat finally released more certs but for the longest time it was basically JR and SR. So I am not sure exactly how to show recruiters/hiring managers that I want to be a linux admin. I know I will at least work up to LPIC-2 level before I am finished with school and try to get as hands on as possible with the technologies. I also know I want to play with various OSes (solaris, *bsd, Cent, Debian, etc) as well as technologies (sendmail, mysql, iptables, etc) so I can broaden my knowledge. Who knows, I might end up going for a basic solaris cert before its all said and done (assuming Oracle doesn't kill it lol).
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,744 ■■■■■■■■■■
    You know Greenville Tech gives RHCE courses right? They have the big Redhat sign on the technology building. I've been thinking about putting my GI Bill to use a few nights a week there (probably not the Redhat courses though).

    You had me going there for a few seconds... icon_lol.gif

    I have considered doing their Cisco academy but it's stretched out over two years (because I would have to take night classes.) Two years seems a little ridiculous for the CCNA.
  • veritas_libertasveritas_libertas CISSP, GIAC x5, CompTIA x5 Greenville, SC USAMember Posts: 5,744 ■■■■■■■■■■
    knwminus wrote: »
    You know, that is the million dollar (or at least several thousand question). With MS there is a clear path, MCITP:EST/EDST for desktop admin level, MCITP:SA/EA for server level and various other MCTS and MCITPs for speciality technologies. With the LPIC it basically goes, JR, Mid and SR making it (IMO) much more difficult to show your skillset and knowledge level. Red Hat finally released more certs but for the longest time it was basically JR and SR. So I am not sure exactly how to show recruiters/hiring managers that I want to be a linux admin. I know I will at least work up to LPIC-2 level before I am finished with school and try to get as hands on as possible with the technologies. I also know I want to play with various OSes (solaris, *bsd, Cent, Debian, etc) as well as technologies (sendmail, mysql, iptables, etc) so I can broaden my knowledge. Who knows, I might end up going for a basic solaris cert before its all said and done (assuming Oracle doesn't kill it lol).

    Yeah I am sure what to pursue as well. I'm hoping that the SysAdmin job I am able to obtain in the future will have some Linux/Unix servers mixed in. That would at least give me some experience and maybe direction on what to do.
  • NightShade03NightShade03 Member Posts: 1,383 ■■■■■■■□□□
    It is worth noting that Red Hat only heavily advertises their RHCT / RHCE exams so to anyone inquiring you'd think Jr / Sr level. Actually the RHCE, even at an engineer level is at the bottom of their cert tree. After the RHCE there are tons of advanced certifications to build onto as well as their RHCA (which is true SR level).

    I'm just saying that RHCE may Sr level, but there is so much more beyond that.
  • varelgvarelg Banned Posts: 790
    knwminus wrote: »
    ... I also know I want to play with various OSes (solaris, *bsd, Cent, Debian, etc) as well as technologies (sendmail, mysql, iptables, etc) so I can broaden my knowledge. Who knows, I might end up going for a basic solaris cert before its all said and done (assuming Oracle doesn't kill it lol).
    Oracle hasn't killed it yet, but is surely loading the gun. OpenSolaris project is disbanded after months of serious disinterest demonstrated by Oracle. Of course, developers that donated their code (while Oracle is cashing in on it now without paying a dime and it's completely legal) will fork that project under different name but it won't be the OpenSolaris that enthusiasts knew. Play with ZFS while you can. Oh, and you mentioned MySQL, another technology acquired by Oracle, for now it's open source but that may easily change.
    Sendmail is to mail applications what Galileo Galilei is to the modern astronomy. But you'll probably still find companies seriously relying on it.
    And to answer the question in the title of this topic, it's neither Unix or Linux or CCNA. If you solely chase certifications to hit keywords on HR's drones' list and land a job, you will never complete a single certification and never attain any expertise at any given technology. Stick with what you think would be a great skill to develop and what constantly attracts your curiosity.
    Sadly, I am yet to see a sysadmin ad that explicitly or only requires Linux cert , although some of those prospective employers clearly state that their resources are partly run by Linux. At least at the area where I live. Windows admin certs are on the other hand mentioned in almost all of those job ads.
  • Bl8ckr0uterBl8ckr0uter Inactive Imported Users Posts: 5,031 ■■■■■■■■□□
    varelg wrote: »
    Oracle hasn't killed it yet, but is surely loading the gun. OpenSolaris project is disbanded after months of serious disinterest demonstrated by Oracle. Of course, developers that donated their code (while Oracle is cashing in on it now without paying a dime and it's completely legal) will fork that project under different name but it won't be the OpenSolaris that enthusiasts knew. Play with ZFS while you can. Oh, and you mentioned MySQL, another technology acquired by Oracle, for now it's open source but that may easily change.
    Sendmail is to mail applications what Galileo Galilei is to the modern astronomy. But you'll probably still find companies seriously relying on it.
    And to answer the question in the title of this topic, it's neither Unix or Linux or CCNA. If you solely chase certifications to hit keywords on HR's drones' list and land a job, you will never complete a single certification and never attain any expertise at any given technology. Stick with what you think would be a great skill to develop and what constantly attracts your curiosity.
    Sadly, I am yet to see a sysadmin ad that explicitly or only requires Linux cert , although some of those prospective employers clearly state that their resources are partly run by Linux. At least at the area where I live. Windows admin certs are on the other hand mentioned in almost all of those job ads.

    I thought they spun off mysql because of antitrust (from the EU)?


    But yea I know exactly what you mean as far as *nix to windows ratio in terms of jobs. I have seen a few that require RHCE (and even a few for RHCSS, SCSA,SCNA and GCUX) but most of these want 5-10 years of exp. Sadly I almost feel like I am going to waste my time and money on the LPIC-1. But it is what I want to do so I am going to stick to it. I will probably pick up an Oracle (OCA) cert as I have to do an oracle class anyway. Oh well, maybe that will help although I doubt it. I wish I had a freaking mentor around these parts icon_sad.gif oh well.
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