Recently, I met a new IT Administrator getting started in the field and we started comparing  notes.  We found out quickly that he is rather new to the field and at this point while I am rather ‘seasoned’ from his point of view.  We spent about one hour just visiting, sharing stories, and getting to know each other.  When I was done, I realized that I have a similar conversation about once per month for the past 15 years at least.  This is fine with me, I enjoy talking shop and getting to know others in my industry regardless of experience.  I always assume that I don’t know everything, and that others have a method or idea which I have not considered.

What is your favorite Operating System?

Short Answer, I don’t have one.  Over the years I have owned and worked on Windows, Apple, Amiga and Linux products.   They are all their positive and negative points which I will not bother to spell our here.  However, my laptop is running Windows 7.  Since I am rather agnostic when it comes to the operating system, I am indifferent.  However, most places that I work use Microsoft products.  So, this is the reason I am running windows.

Another big reason, is how I work.  When I am working on Windows servers, I can use the  Remote Desktop Feature from Microsoft.  Since most of my servers are Linux-based, it is a simple matter of using putty and ssh to get connected.


What is your preferred Linux Distribution?

Other the years, I have used, very familiar with, and familiar with Redhat, CentOS, Fedora, Suse, Ubuntu, Gentoo and FreeBSD.  My default preferred distribution is Suse.  The primary reason of my use of Suse, is because Suse offers Yast for system management.  In Yast you can do most system administration tasks.  However, you still can compile everything from source code. everything.  All of the other distributions of Linux have something similar, I just prefer Suse.


How can I get started?

Often, I will hear ‘I really want to play with linux or windows, but the place I shop doesn’t use it.’

Well, that is fine and dandy, but what about your house?  I am always shocked to hear from IT people that they don’t practice their craft at home.  If you want to use Linux, get an old computer, download a copy of Linux and play.  Linux offers endless possibilities but you need to get started somewhere.  If you want to learn how to set up an email server, buy a domain, and setup your email server.  There is no better way than to learn by doing.

For me, my knowledge base and power exploded when I setup a Linux server at home.  At first it was a router for my home DSL line.  I was one of the first people in my town to have DSL at home.  This was before you could go my a router for $35.  Rather than expose my home computer to the Internet, I built a linux router out of an older computer and spare parts which ran iptables and NAT.

Even if you have never had a job as an IT person, when you apply for a job you can honestly that you have experience with your home network.  Once you get started there are a variety of options for you.  A working home network, also shows that you have initiative and curiosity.  Two very valuable commodities in a person, which are not easily demonstrable in a resume.


Other Advice?

Be organized!

I have hired many IT people and interviewed hundreds of them.    Every time that person maintains an organized desk and workplace, they do a great job.  Every time their work area is a mess, it is effected in the quality of their work.  Being busy is no excuse, every good IT person is busy.  If your work requires a lab or testing area that is fine, just keep it organized.

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