Linux is hot right now. Everybody is looking for Linux talent. Recruiters are knocking down the doors of anybody with Linux experience, and there are tens of thousands of jobs waiting to be filled. But what if you want to take advantage of this trend and you’re new to Linux? How do you get started?
It should almost go without saying, but the first key to learning Linux is to install Linux. Both the LFS101x and the LFS201 courses include detailed sections on installing and configuring Linux for the first time.
If you are completely new to Linux, the best place to start is our free LFS101x Introduction to Linux course. This online course is hosted by edX.org, and explores the various tools and techniques commonly used by Linux system administrators and end users to achieve their day-to-day work in a Linux environment. It is designed for experienced computer users who have limited or no previous exposure to Linux, whether they are working in an individual or enterprise environment. This course will give you a good working knowledge of Linux from both a graphical and command line perspective, allowing you to easily navigate through any of the major Linux distributions.
Look into LFS201
Once you’ve completed LFS101x, you’re ready to start diving into the more complicated tasks in Linux that will be required of you as a professional sysadmin. To gain those skills, you’ll want to take LFS201 Essentials of Linux System Administration. The course gives you in-depth explanations and instructions for each topic, along with plenty of exercises and labs to help you get real, hands-on experience with the subject matter.
If you would rather have a live instructor teach you or you have an employer who is interested in helping you become a Linux sysadmin, you might also be interested in LFS220 Linux System Administration. This course includes all the same topics as the LFS201 course, but is taught by an expert instructor who can guide you through the labs and answer any questions you have on the topics covered in the course.
Practice makes perfect, and that’s as true for Linux as it is for any musical instrument or sport. Once you’ve installed Linux, use it regularly. Perform key tasks over and over again until you can do them easily without reference material. Learn the ins and outs of the command line as well as the GUI. This practice will ensure that you’ve got the skills and knowledge to be successful as a professional Linux sysadmin.
After you’ve taken LFS201 or LFS220 and you’ve gotten some practice, you are now ready to get certified as a system administrator. You’ll need this certification because this is how you will prove to employers that you have the necessary skills to be a professional Linux sysadmin.
There are several Linux certifications on the market today, and all of them have their place. However, most of these certifications are either centered on a specific distro (like Red Hat) or are purely knowledge-based and don’t demonstrate actual skill with Linux. The Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator certification is an excellent alternative for someone looking for a flexible, meaningful entry-level certification.
At this point you may also want to consider joining up with a local Linux Users Group (or LUG), if there’s one in your area. These groups are usually composed of people of all ages and experience levels, so regardless of where you are at with your Linux experience, you can find people with similar skill levels to bond with, or more advanced Linux users who can help answer questions and point you towards helpful resources. To find out if there’s a LUG near you, try looking on meetup.com, check with a nearby university, or just do a simple Internet search.
There are also many online communities available to you as you learn Linux. These sites and communities provide help and support to both individuals new to Linux or experienced administrators:
7. Learn To Love The Documentation
Last but not least, if you ever get stuck on something within Linux, don’t forget about Linux’s included documentation. Using the commands man (for manual), info and help, you can find information on virtually every aspect of Linux, right from within the operating system. The usefulness of these built-in resources cannot be overstated, and you’ll find yourself using them throughout your career, so you might as well get familiar with them early on.
Interested in learning more about a career in system administration? Check out our free ebook “Future Proof Your SysAdmin Career.”