JP Vossen on 4 Apr 2008 17:38:52 -0700

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: [PLUG] Suggested reading

> Date: Thu, 3 Apr 2008 19:44:09 -0400
> From: "David A. Harding" <>
> On Thu, Apr 03, 2008 at 02:23:56PM -0400, william antill wrote:
>> I run linux as my main machine, [and I'd] really like to [...] do more
>> with it. Any suggestions?
> I think books are the worst way to learn a totally new subject. They
> create no commitment. When the going gets tough, the book gets put down.

I have to disagree with that, I think it depends on the person.  I agree 
that finding a project and committing to doing it will force you to 
learn a heck of a lot.  But rather than waste a lot of time at the 
beginning getting pissed that things aren't working (and possibly just 
giving up), I'd rather get the "jump start" that a good book will 
provide.  Nothing can match real-world experience in *doing* something, 
but there is a lot to be said for learning from other's experience and 
knowledge too.

Also, there often really are right and wrong ways to do something, and 
if you get into bad habits from the very start, they are awfully hard to 
break.  Perhaps my favorite example of this is the idiotic 
first-initial/last name user name convention that Windows/Exchange have 
created.  Unless you are trying to be obscure, I can't think of a more 
stupid way to do this, but most new sysadmins who don't know any better 
will just take that default.  (For the record, IMO user IDs should be 
{first 6 letters of last name}{FI}{MI} or {first 5 letters of last 
name}{FI}{MI}{#} as needed.)  Just about anything having to do with 
setting up an SMTP server properly is another example.

(Actually, as a sidebar, I think this all illustrates a major failing of 
IT.  No one takes a doctor, cop, fireman or even engineer and just 
tosses them into the deep end--or even *allows* them into the deep end 
alone.  They are partnered or mentored by someone who knows what they 
are doing; sometimes for years.  We don't do that in IT, and we should. 
  Pick anything, security, programming, support, sys/net admin; all 
would be improved and we'd have a lot less idiocy and reinventing the 
wheel if we mentored.  This is not a new idea, but every so often it 
bugs me.)

> Make a commitment to learn GNU+Linux, figure out what you can on your
> own, and ask this mailing list for specific help on everything else.
> So, instead of finding the right book, you need to find the right
> commitment.  Some colleges teach GNU+Linux courses; signing up for one
> of those courses creates commitment.

I dunno, "I run linux as my main machine" sounds like a really good 
start to me.

> But I think the best commitment is like the best software: free. Send
> an email to Liz Bevilacqua and tell her you want to lecture about the
> 100 most awesome shell commands (or any topic) at a PLUG meeting in a
> few months. Liz will schedule your lecture, and by that date, you'll be
> an expert.

That would take a lot of guts, but would certainly work.  I got talked 
into writing a book by basically that same argument and that turned out 
OK...  :-)

JP Vossen, CISSP            |:::======|        jp{at}jpsdomain{dot}org
My Account, My Opinions     |=========|
"Microsoft Tax" = the additional hardware & yearly fees for the add-on
software required to protect Windows from its own poorly designed and
implemented self, while the overhead incidentally flattens Moore's Law.
Philadelphia Linux Users Group         --
Announcements -
General Discussion  --