Learn Linux for 2013
2013 has arrived and you may be wondering what to do with the new year that many said would never arrive – well what better than to learn linux now and finally make that break from Windows you’ve long been promising yourself?
Linux on the desktop has come a long way in recent years with trendy distros such as Ubuntu blazing a trail and making linux seem almost simple – in fact it has done the job quite well and just about every corner of the world now you can find a granny surfing the web on a Ubuntu desktop! Of course said granny may not know Ubuntu from the Shopping Channel but that doesn’t matter, in fact it is a good thing – granny doesn’t want or need to know such technicalities, she just wants to get online and do the facebook thing or buy knitting books from amazon.
Of course the desktop is not all there is and in fact Linux is perhaps best known and most widely used on servers of various kinds and is probably what you would get if you were renting a server from a web hosting company these days. Having said that there are compelling reasons for using Windows Server (which has also improved over the years) or even some other type of operating system and many web hosting providers will offer a range of OS’s to suit all tastes.
But getting back on track – this post is about learning linux so, moving swiftly on.. you may be wondering how to go about learning linux, should you do a course? Buy a book? Vulcan mind meld perhaps? The answer is YES to all the aforementioned (particularly to the last one if you can find a willing Vulcan) and more besides.
As far as books are concerned I highly recommend UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook which is a hefty tome if ever there was one but it covers so much material while remaining surprisingly readable and will show you how to do various tasks on several linux and unix distros so you will have a great reference which will serve you well for years to come. Given that it is so large I also recommend you get the (slightly cheaper) kindle version and if you don’t yet have a Kindle then get one – it is the bees knees! If you really don’t want to buy a Kindle you could always just install the free Kindle Cloud app in your laptop/netbook/tablet web browser instead or even just use the Kindle app on your smartphone. Personally I would go for the real deal Kindle Paperwhite.
Beyond books you may want to have a go at some Linux courses and there are quite a few of those to choose from these days as well and they can even be done in some quite exotic locations such as Goa or the Himalayas which would be a cool place to do any course while also having a holiday. Among the most useful linux courses are those created by Red Hat which have a reputation for being tough and well respected in the industry – becoming a Red Hat Certified Engineer (or above) is a good for anyone looking to work with Linux. Sadly they cost rather a lot of money and ideally you’d want to get an employer to pay unless you have deep pockets. Alternatively you can do the same courses with ‘offshore’ training providers such as the one in India which is linked above and pay considerably less while even getting one to one training!
Additionally you could (and indeed should) also setup your own test lab at home to mess about with linux on servers and networks as mentioned in our earlier article on How to Become a System Administrator as this is a great way to learn linux without breaking anything that might get you fired.. 😉