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From 0 to Sysadmin

Join me as I go from surviving a challenging professional setback to becoming an established Linux Sysadmin and beyond.

Learning Linux:

Get Started with Linux

Regardless of whether you’re installing Linux on a desktop or running it as the server, getting familiar with this operating system can be critical. Today, there are several ways to learn about Linux. But which way is the best way?

Three Important things for me are:

Cutting down the time to learn Linux.

Being able to go deep into a topic. e.g. Learn everything you need to know about the command line.

Practicing: It will save you a lot of time as soon as you're done with your learning.

Linux doesn't have to be hard

If you're a beginner with Linux, you may think that it's a hard subject to learn. In fact, the more you know about it, the easier it gets. This article provides an overview that can help clarify some of the skills and tasks needed to get started with Linux.

It’s true, Linux had sort of had a bad reputation of being unfriendly to new users. I’ve found this to be the case many times in the past which is why I want to show you how you can learn Linux easily.

In fact with Linux distributions like Linux Mint and Pop!_OS you may never have to use the command line. But that’s not you. You want to become a power Linux user.

Learn the lingo

The best way to learn Linux is by example. If you don't know what the Linux lingo is, you can't benefit from the best books, message boards, and tutorials.

So here are the top 10 Linux terms.

  1. kernel. This is the core of the operating system. It acts as the brain of the system.
  2. shell. This is the program that gives you access to the operating system. You interact with it by typing commands.
  3. terminal. This is the program you use to enter the shell. It is what lets you type commands into the system.
  4. terminal emulator. This is what lets you type commands into the terminal.
  5. bash. This is the shell that comes on most Linux systems.
  6. cron. This is the program that runs commands at certain times.
  7. daemon. This is the program that runs in the background.
  8. crontab. This is the file that tells the cron program when to run certain programs.
  9. root. This is a special user who has great power. You should almost never be running as root, but sometimes you have to do it.
  10. sysadmin. This is a term for people who administer computer systems.

When you first start to learn Linux, you may fall into the trap of trying everything at once. This is tempting, because Linux has a lot of great, new things, and because Linux is more open than Windows or MacOS. It makes you wonder: if you can't do everything, why bother learning Linux at all?

But learning Linux is not about doing as much stuff as possible. It is about doing just the right stuff, and doing it right.

Because Linux is open source, there are many tools that can do almost everything. So when you want to learn Linux, the first thing you should do is learn one tool and use it.

Then when you're comfortable with that, you can expand your knowledge by learning another tool.

Keep it simple

Linux newbies sometimes have a problem getting started. Figuring out how to do everything at once can be overwhelming.

You start out reading hundreds of tutorials. Then you spend weeks learning one little part of it, then all the pieces, then more. Eventually you understand everything. But it takes forever.

Your problem is not with Linux, but with the way you are learning.

Instead of learning the commands one at a time, try learning one command at a time. Instead of following hundreds of tutorials, try starting with one.

Here are three things to try if you are starting with a command line:

  1. Separate things into little pieces. If you only understand one thing at a time, you will gradually understand everything else.
  2. Try one tutorial first. You don't have to read every word. Just read it until you understand the basic idea. Then try the next one.
  3. You don't have to understand everything. You don't have to get every command to work perfectly. Just get things to work.

Learning Linux this way takes a lot longer, but it's easier. After a couple of weeks of this way, you will look back and laugh at how long you used to take to learn new things.

My favorite resource is Youtube. Caleb Curry has a complete Beginners guide to Linux.

I like Caleb’s videos. He keeps things light and funny. You’ll learn a lot from him.

Takeaway

Even if you're a computer newbie, you don't have to feel locked out of the Linux community. There's a way for absolutely everyone to learn Linux, you just need to find what works for you.

When I was learning, I kept a list of linux topics and lingo that I wasn’t familiar with. I take one of those topics and search Youtube. After a few tutorials it would start to sink it.

For me, this has been the best way for me to learn.

Advice for My Son

Rolling updates on a range of topics. My advice is short and clear.

I am not expert. I only know what has worked for me. Often, the simplest solution is the best solution.

I didn't know my father. In my late teens and early 20s I spent my free time at the library. Reading nonfiction, self help, business and biographies.

This reference was created on August 29th, 2020. It's my 43rd birthday. My son is one year and 8 months old. These notes are my advice to him.

If you are interested in supporting this page. You'll find some affiliate links below.


Life

Archive Your Life

I video record everything that my son does.

Everything is recorded in 4K. The highest setting on my phone. I have all his first. Rolling-over, crawling, walking and first words.


Limit Social Media

Social media isn't real. Don't compare your life to others.


Write It Down

You will forget.

Use both paper and a note app. Write with Uni-ball Jetstream pens. They are comfortable, fast drying and water resistant. Make your writing short and clear. Use HemingwayApp.com to edit your writing.

Use Standard Notes. Your notes are 100% encrypted and they sync to all your devices.


You Only Need Black Crew Socks

Black crew socks work for everything, even with a suit. It's a minimalist secret hack.


Give Great Gifts

Use the MoMA design store. One of the world's greatest museum curated this store. No one will out-gift you. You'll find something at every budget.


Minimal

If you have an option. Pick the minimal option. Minimal things have less parts to break or fail.

Minimal doesn't mean subpar. Many of the best designed items are minimal. They remove everything that is not needed.


Learn to Code

FreeCodeCamp.org is a fantastic resources. Also subscript to their YouTube channel.

FreeCodeCamp is self paced. Take your time, and understand what you are doing. At the end you'll get a FREE certificate that is respected industry wide.

Start with Responsive Web Design. Go from there.


Start A Business

Start a business or service. You don't need to Millions. If you can. Make that business run itself.

It is the hardest thing to do. But a business that runs itself is freedom.


Eyeware

Buy eyeglasses and sunglasses from Warby Parker.

Starting at $95 Warby Parker makes fantastic eyewear. Take your Warby Parker frames to a local Optometrist for make prescription lenses and sunglasses.

I've owned over 10 Warby Parker pairs. More often than not the prescription was incorrect.


Minimal

Learn how to edit, remove excess. Focus on quality over quantity. When you keep things minimal. You have less chances for something to go wrong.


Podcasts

Listen to podcast. They are great for keeping up with current events, learning and discovering. Keep your subscriptions manageable. Limit yourself to 10. Pick podcast on different topics to well-round your knowledge.

Listen to podcast on your commute and long drives. I also listen during my morning routine.


Trust Your Instincts

"Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell has case studies supporting this.

  • Believe in yourself.

Affordable Quality Brands

For the office get a pair of Dr. Martens 1461 Mono. The Dr. Martens Archie II is a great formal upgrade.

You do have to break them in. But they will outlast other brands. Dr. Martens aren't made in half sizes. Size up, not down. Dr. Martens are always on sale. Search, you'll find a deal online.

Regardless of your personal style. Dr. Martens makes a shoe for you.

Everlane makes modern upscale basics clothing. The quality is fantastic. They could charge more. But don't. Take advantage of that.

Get a tailored look by taking your Dickies to a suit tailor. A suit tailor is more expensive, but they have the skill to make your Dickies fit perfect. Dickies 874 will outlast all other pants.

If you want a wrist watch get a Timex Weekender. They are affordable, and look great.

Upgrade to a Seiko 5. The Seiko will last a lifetime.


Read

Use your library card. Your card now gives you access to ebooks, audio books and magazines. You can even download them to a Kindle, tablet for phone.

The way I see it. Articles will scratch the surface on a topic. Books will take you deep into that topic.

Be a lifelong learner.


Buy Quality

Quality doesn't have to be expensive. Research all buys with Consumer Reports and Wirecutter.


NEVER buy something from someone on the street. Scammers will show you fake receipts. They will rush you to buy. They willl tell you that you aren't getting a deal.

This is a scam.

DO:


Finance

  • Use Nerd Wallet to track your credit score for FREE. Nerd Wallet has advice on credit cards, student loans, mortgages and more.

  • Get a Robinhood account. First see if a friend already has an account. Ask them to send you a referral link. You'll both get a free stock. When you can sell that free stock, then buy your ETF of choice. Setup automatic deposits. Enable DRIP (automatic dividend reinvestment).

  • Invest monthly in an S&P 500 Index Fund or A total US Stock Market Fund. You only need ONE ETF. VTI is a great option. Don't buy the flavor of the month stock. Reinvest your dividends back into the ETF. You will retire a millionaire.

  • Buy don't lease. Use CarFox.com. Get a Toyota. Make sure that it has a great service record on CarFax. Upgrade to a used Lexus if you like. A car's engine is the most important factor. Always do your cars maintenance on time. V6 engines will out last V4 engines. V8 engines are not worth it.


Technology

  • Install mobile apps from F-Droid. Apps on the F-Droid app store focus on your privacy.

  • Use Signal as your texting / messaging app. Signal protects your conversations with end-to-end encryption.

  • Use Spotify to stream music. If you have a premium account set your streaming quality to Very High. Turn on the Crossfade option. Set it to 12 seconds.

  • On video conference calls use Krisp for free noise cancelling. When you can, upgrade your microphone to a Blue USB microphone.

  • On your phone use the DuckDuckGo browser. It's a simple way to block ads trackers and malware on your mobile browser.

  • Use the Open Sans font from fonts.google.com on your documents and computer. This font is clear and has excellent readability at any size.

  • Buy used / last model FLAGSHIP phones. You will save hundreds of dollars, with no compromise in quality.

  • Buy a bargain Ultrabook laptop. Use an external computer monitor at home.

  • Use Linux (Pop-OS, it works!) If you need to use a windows program use wine, but install it with PlayOnLinux. Linux will add extend the life of your computer.

  • Don't buy video games or gaming consoles. Don't waste hours playing video games. If you want to enjoy a game from time to time. Use a free account from GeForce Now. Get free games by opening a Steam account. Geforce Now streams your games. It works on every platform, mobile, desktop, including Chromebooks. Install Geforce Now on Linux by installing an app called Lutris. Lutris will automate the entire installation process.

  • Install Blokada from F-Droid on your phone to block ads, trackers and malware.

  • Install Ublock Origin to block ads, trackers and malware on your browser.

  • Install Bitwarden to store your online passwrods. Bitwarden works on your browser and phone. Never reuse passwords. Make a new password for every website.

  • Use Protonmail for your email. Keep your Gmail address for your Google needs. Don't use your Gmail address for emails.

  • Create 2 email address. 1st for professional / banking use (your.name@protonmail.com). 2nd for services / online accounts (dont.use.your.name@protonmail.com).

  • Sign-up to websites using a temporary email addresses to limit spam. If you like the service. Create an account with your 2nd email.

  • Buy a Brother Laser printer over a Jet printer. Make sure that your laser printer has a Wi-Fi option.


Health


Target

Get a Target DEBIT RedCard. NOT the credit card.

Link your checking account to the RedCard. You'll get a %5 discount, free shipping and more.

Make all your target purchases on this card. In 2015 Target created a one year return policy for most Target brands items.

The RedCard is the best way to keep track of your purchases. You won't have to keep your recipe. They make NO exceptions without a recipe. Your Target RedCard keeps all your purchases on record.

One use is for baby clothing. Babies outgrow clothes in weeks. Exchange the item for a larger size when it no longer fits.

Target offers this amazing return policy for your loyalty. Take advantage of this.

From 0 to Sysadmin

From 0 to Sysadmin


Ubuntu

I've been a Linux user since 2009. Ubuntu was my introduction to Linux. At that time I had grown tired of Mac OS and Windows was not cutting it for me.

Enough Is Enough

After loosing my business for the 3rd time (natural disaster, fire and the pandemic) since 2017.

Enough was enough, I needed a change. The strain that this brought to my family was massive.

Flashing Linux

I needed to re-find myself. I needed a rebirth. Something to reboot my brain. To start to think outside the box. To have me think again in ways I never thought to before. And so it was that one day I decided to install Pop!_OS.

I hadn’t touched Linux in years. I ran my business on a Chromebook.

At first it was terribly frustrating, but slowly something started to happen to me, something that hadn't happened since my early days as an entrepreneur.

I was hooked.

Learning Everyday

Linux was a refuge for me. I was reading Slashdot, which used to be all tech news. But now it was Linux news, so it became my main source of news. And my quest to understand Linux lead me to more and more tech stuff.

I was doing things by SSHing into some private servers that I had set up. I was using some shell scripts that I had created for some of the stuff. I was on github day and night. Just reading and learning. Most of it was beyond me.

So you can imagine my dilemma. I had the beginnings of a spark but no way of nurturing it.

I was fascinated with Linux and I'd always loved working with computers. But I'd never considered making Linux my own career...

Not My First Rodeo

As a younger man I had worked at a few start-ups. Mostly Ad Tech. But the crash of 2008 almost killed the company that I had been working for. The day that Lehman Brothers went under, was the day that they were going to file our IPO.

At that time I was jobless. Too young to retire, too old for Tech. (Funny, I'm nearly fourteen years older.)

Entrepreneur

So I had pivoted into starting my own business. My business was successful.Three natural disasters was too much for me.

For the last year, I've been teaching myself Linux. It's amazing how much there is to learn. In the next year, I'm going to take my LPI exams. My goal is to apply for a junior Linux system administrator position and eventually grow my career.

Summing Up

I'm going to be creating a journal here. I'm going to be very open with this journal. I'll write down things I'm proud of, what I've learned, my struggles, anxiety , successes, failures ... I want it to be an account of someone trying to also become a Linux Sysadmin.

I haven't decided if I'll make it anonymous or not. We'll see how it goes.