Inspired by Reddit:

How do I learn to be a Linux sysadmin?

  1. Install Linux on a computer and get KVM up and going
  2. Setup a VM to do NAT, DNS, DHCP, and TFTP for a private VM network/bridge
  3. Install another VM as a Puppet Master with your Puppet code in git
  4. Use your new netboot and configuration management VM to automatically install two VMs for LDAP hosting (use Cobbler or Kickstart or your distro’s method for network installs)
  5. Configure an OpenLDAP user tree with a backup replica and populate it with your user information
  6. Create two more VMs which use the LDAP tree for authentication and host a replicated PostgreSQL database
  7. Deploy an NFS server VM
  8. Deploy another VM to run Bakula using NFS as the target and your PostgreSQL as the inventory - start backing up your VM’s
  9. Install NGINX on two VM’s and share an IP using keepalived or ucarp
  10. Install Tomcat and JBoss Wiki on a VM and use your NGINX VM’s as load balancers
  11. Install a VM for Postfix using a gmail account for sending mail
  12. Setup a Nagios instance to monitor and alert on your new infrastructure
  13. Install a VM as a Syslog server with ELK or Splunk for log searching
  14. Comment your Puppet code and document your designs in the Wiki
  15. Destroy your VM’s.. Practice reinstalling just using Puppet and restoring data and/or whole machines from Bakula

Do these things and you will be fully exposed to every aspect of Linux Enterprise systems administration. Do them well and you will have the technical expertise required to seek “Senior” roles. If you go whole-hog crash-course full-time it with no other means of income, I would expect it would take between 3 and 6 months to go from “I think I’m good with computers” to achieving all of these – assuming you’re not afraid of IRC and google (and have neither friends nor family …).

Sage wisdom from prettybunnys:

I was once a Linux SysAdmin for a fortune 1000 company, thats where I come from with this:

  • IF you don’t have a relevant degree, work experience, or certs to back up your knowledge then as far as anyone is concerned you don’t have the knowledge.
  • So, assuming you do have the know how you need to be able to prove it. Certificates with no experience is more likely to land you a tier 1 helpdesk position. If you get this, then you’ve done it. You’re now in position to move your way up, to learn and prove and move.
  • Work experience with no certificates is better than certificates with no experience. So I would first focus on finding something in the sphere of helpdesk, even if it is just “geek squad” for now. I mean this in all seriousness. I’ve no degree, limited certs, and moved my way from retail support to fortune 1000 Linux SA in ~5 years time. It may not come quick, but it can be significantly quicker to go from 0 to where you want to be than you think.
  • Linux+ will help you past the HR barrier, but it won’t save you in the interview. Learn best practices and be able to speak to them:
    • Learn what a standard backup schedule is
    • learn about DAC (discretionary access control) and be able to speak to it.
    • Learn about MAC (Mandatory access control) and be able to speak to it.
    • Know what SELinux is, know more than setenforce 0.
    • Know how to integrate a server to AD.
    • Understand the boot process, runlevels, difference between kernel and userspace, etc.
  • IF you want to go the cert route I’d recommend the following together:
    • A+ (worthless on it’s own, but having it WITH other certs is a good indicator of rounded knowledge)
    • Sec+
    • Linux+

Most importantly, set your expectations for yourself. 10 years of being a poweruser is not enough, simply put. However, 10 years of being a poweruser may help you on your path to knowledge and proof, which is what you need.

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