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I mostly use RedHat derived distributions like Fedora for the simple following reasons:
  • they are not bad in themselves
  • what you know is usefull when supporting commercial RedHat distributions
  • you don' t have to chose between bleeding edge (Fedora) and boring stability (RedHat Servers): both are very similar and it's easy to switch.
  • I'm not anal about Linux distributions and this one works well for me and does what I want it to.

Each Linux distribution has its own way of doing things, storing config files or administering the system. Differences are only skin-deep though and while it gets a bit of effort to go from one distribution to another, it's usually not dificult.

RedHat is popular in North America and in Asia mostly. SuSE is better known in Europe but is making its way into the US market since it has been bought by Novell.

In any case, a Linux system can be quite daunting to approach: it's made of hundred of bits that work together but require you to have a broad and sometimes fairly deep knowledge to truly become productive.
I'm not talking about setting a simple desktop system and using a GUI to check your emails but rather of using a Linux System in more advanced environments, as servers.

Linux is wonderful for that very task: building plenty of small low-cost servers for what usually requires larger budgets and entails licensing headaches. Plus *nix allows a fair dose of flexibility that other systems usually don't offer unless you purchase the specialized software that someone else's thought you would need.

To make sense of the jungle of options, services, configuration files, issues that every system administrator is faced with, I decided to get a solid background in Linux systems and get a RHCE, following the Red Hat Certified Engineer curriculum.

I took it easy and paced myself over a rather long period of time, passing first the intermediate RHCT (for Technician) certification.
The thing that is different and tends to make RedHat Certifications difficult is that they do not rely on brute-force knowledge: you need to learn and practice in a real environment for a while.
This is really where the difference is made: for someone with a very basic knowledge of Linux, it would take about 6 months of practical experience before being able to attempt the exam. This of course varies a lot depending on your own experience and capabilities and doesn't mean much, I agree.

The Certification Exams are practical only (read: no paper, no writting) and take half a day for the RHCT and a full day for the RHCE. They are divided in different sections, such as troubleshooting and Installation/Configuration.
While the basic tasks are simple, you're not allowed to fail them. Then come a large number of small tasks that touch almost all aspects of the system. you need to be very quick and you've barely got enough time to check your system.

NadaFriday 21 June 2013, at 17:21 GMT+8 [X]
This type of comparison isn't very useufl. Red Hat is a commercial distribution. Distros like Ubuntu are not. This is the same mistake Mark Shuttleworth made when he originally made a blog post claiming that Ubuntu had overtaken Red Hat in server usage. This figure is lumping together enterprise-grade corporate websites and someone who wants to put their baby's first Christmas pictures on the Internet for grandma and uses a free copy of Ubuntu to do it. When pressed, Shuttleworth admitted that the Ubuntu figures included non-paid versions and Red Hat issued a comment saying that there's been no confirmation Canonical has ever had even one corporate paid-support customer. :-) As such, there's no way from this single figure to conclude that Red Hat is dying (their financials say otherwise anyway). The pie (websites) may simply be growing larger. If Red Hat were to die, we'd lose a major source of innovation and financial support in the Linux community. Losing them or IBM or SUSE would seriously hurt the kernel, LibreOffice, etc. Losing Canonical, sadly, wouldn't affect things at all since they give back barely anything to the community.
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