Linux, Mac and/or WIndows? And where?

by Tom Adelstein

Linux system administrators should consider getting their MCSE. What? That's correct. You might also consider buying a Mac Mini desktop and practice with it at home. I'm serious, so take this recommendation to heart.

In the past, I have written about the crazy job market for Linux system administrators and help desk professionals. Hiring managers have problems with hiring pure Linux professionals. It might fall into the area of myth, but hiring managers believe those myhts. They believe Linux guys who say they don't mind working with Windows will then turn around and leave within a short time frame. Secondly, Linux technologists with previous experience with Microsoft will find hiring managers leery of their Windows skills. Those hiring managers probably have a point.

Wanna eat? Here's a email I wrote after a client wrote and said they would pay me for some Linux work I did:

That's OK. I found a trash can with some cat food in it still in the
can. Though it was past the expiration date, it didn't make me sick.
It was tasty too. I'm heading over to the shelter now. I have several
friends over there who are also contractors. We play dominoes
when we haven't got work. Thank goodness we aren't busy
at the same time cause only one terminal is in reserve for us at the
public library. But, I found a church where they let me use their
computer when the accountant goes to lunch or meets the minister at
some hotel for a conference where they can get away from the other
staff members and confessors.

I appreciate you keeping me up to date on the check thing. Wow. I'll
get half a thousand within a week. I can go down to the thrift shop
and look for my fall wardrobe.

That was the 14th email in the thread. Tongue-in-cheek? Who knows?

So, here's my recommendation: Go to a community college and take some flex courses and get your MCSE. That's seven tests you have to take and you already know much of what they teach. You'll need the jargon, of course.

Doing that will give your resume a fresh look and give hiring managers and recruiters a reason to look at your resume. Most Linux jobs require you to fit into a Microsoft infrastructure. It's a fact many people I speak to will confirm.

Now, a note about comments. I've seen a lot of comments where people deny my observations. I don't mind that if the person has a legitimate case. I've tracked down enough comment makers to find that they are not who and what they say. One so called Tech manager attends college in Australia and doesn't have a job. Many comments come from the college crowd. Others have personal web pages and blogs and they do not have any experience in the areas they claim. I have emailed others.

So, read comments on sites with some skepticism. I learned to ignore many even though some have legitimacy.


2006-10-05 09:40:45
I agree with your general idea but my past expirience with MCSE is that it is too easy to pass these exams and they don't indicate a real knowledge of Microsoft systems.
Michael Gorsuch
2006-10-05 15:06:09
I can confirm this, at least from my own experience. I've been a sysadmin for 10 years, and nearly ever single position has required me to work w/ Windows systems or take over them completely.

It's not as bad as you'd think: a Unix sysadmin tends to have a different viewpoint on sysadmining in general. We are used to working very close with our systems, and understanding what is actually going on inside them. If you can apply this to the Windows world, you'll find yourself surpassing many of the Windows admins out there.

2006-10-05 16:10:04
I totally agree. By having a creditable understanding of Windows a Unix admin can better put forward a case for moving away from it that goes beyond the usual "it just sucks."