Friday, June 26, 2009

Windows to Linux - where to start?

I'm studying Linux further than I've studied it before. I've taken classes for the Linux certification path but only a select few classes and not the complete course. So far my only experience in the Linux world is installing and playing with various versions, but nothing as in depth or real world as I done in the Windows world.

So how do I get started?

The first is basically understanding how Linux works. This is not as easy as just reading a book since you would need to really understand what to do when things go wrong. What are the commands from Windows that will work in Linux?

An easy step to try Linux is finding an old notebook or workstation and installing any popular version, such as Ubuntu or Fedora. You can download these versions directly from the links or you can also order a CD or DVD if your Internet connection is slow. Average sizes range from 700MB for a CD and about 2GB for a DVD version, but highly depends upon the Linux version. Some versions such as PuppyLinux take up only a few megs.

The installation process is much easier than before, you should expect to have a seamless install. Even on older systems the install process is easy and not as involved as with Windows XP or Vista.

For reference here are some articles that help get you started.

Linux Newbie Guide
Linux Newbie (this is geared for an admin view so it has more details

Once you have Linux installed on your computer you can understand the basics of using the tools from the regular Windows method of using the mouse. But as you grow with your Linux skills there are some function that are best done from command prompt or by editing files.

At this point you should start reading more technical documents about Linux, from an administration point of view.

Here's some links to get started.

Rute User's Guide to Linux (a great more in depth guide)

From here there's plenty to learn.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Career path change, with certification

After loosing my job from my employment for almost 9 years I have been taking some time off to research where I want to go next. For the past few years I've been loosing interest in my job, where I was a Windows system administrator. Day in and day out, I felt like I was stuck in the same job functions, not learning anything new, while I was just called upon when things went south.

Once I was let go, I started to deeply think what was wrong with my old job and what did I want to change to. It's such an easy question, most people would say that they don't like their managers, co-workers, job functions, etc. When I started to write the list of what I don't like about my current job, and what I do like.

Below was my list.

Dislikes -
Being called at all hours
Working with non-team players
Limited growth

Likes -
Helping people
Working in a team
Able to move towards different teams or departments

After thinking about the jobs available I realized that I could move to any career I wanted but the first step is learning and getting the experience. I do enjoy working in the IT field, but wanted to do more than stay on the Windows side. My first choice was to look at the Linux administration, I always felt that when I was working on Windows there was so many functions "hidden" from an admin view. When I would call Microsoft for help they only offered more cryptic answers which really bothered me. It was as if I bought a car but couldn't open the engine hood to see what was wrong but had to take it to the dealership.

Then I was thinking that I do like security, on Windows but any other OS in general. I liked the research I did for Windows and see how I could apply security in order to keep a system safe from harmful users. While I would need to understand the Windows world even further, there is also a matter of learning new security information.

Down the longer 1 year path I might still make a serious change in my career but I first need to find a job again, and make the best of it.

Where I want to go is first get a certification, which will allow me to further sell myself as a more successful administrator. The choice on which certification is pretty basic, I'm mostly thinking of the Microsoft Windows MCITP Administrator, but at the same time I am also interested in the Redhat Linux RHCE which is also a great selling point.

Which will I finally go for? I have much more experience on Windows so I will go for the MCITP first, but until I have a full time job, I have the time to explore the two.

Will see just where I land, I'm currently looking for a job and hope I can get employed shortly.
Ham Radio Field Day

Next weekend is the ham radio field day. During June 27th to 28th all amateur radio operators are encouraged to bring out their radios into the outdoors and operate with other amateur radio operators. This is also a great time to view how ham radio works and ask the operators questions.

My friend and I are planning to visit the local ham radio club to see their field day setup. Not only will we get to ask some questions and see a full radio operation, but also get more ideas of how we want to pursue ham radio further. While exploring ham radio there are some great areas to learn about it's much easier to just ask someone in person than read a book.

Will report how this turns out, but I think this will be a good experience.

Also I am hoping to get more information about the amateur radio ARES. ARES is Amateur Radio Emergency Services, a volunteer program that gathers ham radio operators in need of emergency communications.

Recently in Santa Cruz county a major communication line was cut. This in turn stopped almost all communications between the Santa Cruz area to the South Bay. Thanks to the ham community who helped out as line communication was down, but radio is always available.

Since I have a C.E.R.T. certification already I could be more helpful.

Will report back. :)

Monday, June 01, 2009

Amateur Radio HF

For the past few years I had my Technician class license for ham radio. Basically you are limited to transmitting on the UHF and VHF frequencies. After searching around I found that it's more interesting to find contacts in distance areas instead of local. So now I'm studying for my General class license which will give me access to the HF frequencies and able to talk much further than with VHF or UHF.

Here's a link with more details of each license and their benefits.

What do I want to do once I receive the General class license?

Basically have a HF radio set up were I can go anywhere and talk with people from longer distances, without the use of a repeater (a device that repeats a VHF or UHF radio signal to have further range). Such as this example of a hiker taking out his radio during a day on a local trail.

If you are interested in learning how to pass your amateur license tests I highly recommend going to this site which offers great practice tests.