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  1. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #1

    Default Microsoft vs Linux

    How do you decide whether to go down the Microsoft or Linux route?

    I just accepted a position in a company that uses nothing but linux machines. I've always played with the idea of learning Linux, and this gives me reason to further realize that idea. However, I originally was planning on going the MCITP route - regardless of whether 7 or Server 2008. Honestly, I intended to blitz through the certs so that I'd be able to put both MCITP and MCSA on my resume. (Sorta an immature goal, isn't it? haha)

    Regardless of how my current conditions are, I'm curious as to what would cause one person to go one route or the other. Also how hard would it be well versed in BOTH? (And is there actually a reason to be?)

    I'm interested in networking and want to eventually gravitate towards that section of the field. Should that affect one's decision?
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  3. 1337sauce
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    #2
    I went down the linux route because similar to the position you're in, I took a job in a mostly linux shop. I am beyond happy I took the plunge and it has greatly expanded my skillset and employment opportunities, in addition to my own confidence. It's daunting at first but TBH I now prefer working with linux and can't see myself working without it. Also I feel it has made me a better Windows admin in that I understand how the OS stack works much better, CLI is a breeze, and things are just more intuitive.

    I recommend you check out that job, if the money is right (among other things) it could do wonders for your career, I know it did for mine.
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  4. Self-Described Huguenot blargoe's Avatar
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    #3
    I agree with lsud00d. Most of my career has been working in Microsoft infrastructure, but the first job that had me working with servers was primarily Linux. If you simply want to set up a DNS server, or a Web server, install Microsoft. If you want to know how they work, then install Linux. At the end of the day, it's good to be good at both, and excel at one or the other.
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  5. Chasing Life Xyro's Avatar
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    #4
    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNNs View Post
    I just accepted a position in a company that uses nothing but linux machines.
    Here is your opportunity to learn Linux hands-on... luck is on your side

    Like Nike... "Just Do It"

    Good luck!
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  6. Junior Starcraft Engineer
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    #5
    Blargoe, if you're implying that you don't need to understand how web or DNS servers work to effectively administrate them in a Microsoft environment, I'm going to have to disagree strongly. If you're just saying that configuring them on Linux is a better (or more forceful and faster) way, then I can get on that train. You can definitely install most server roles on a Windows server without actually knowing that much about they underlying workings, but you're going to be limited in your ability to support them or to design them effectively.

    Anyway, I've said this for almost any "this for this" specialization conversation, and the NIX vs. MS topic is the best example: Do what you want. There are lots of jobs in either realm. You can go deeply technical, managerial, or somewhere in between in either. You can branch out into other areas in either. Frankly, you can implement almost any solution on either, but most will agree that each has strengths in some areas and weaknesses in others (though what those are and how big the differences are can certainly be debated).

    I have generally done mostly MS-platform work, especially with core infrastructure (AD, Exchange, et. al.), but I've had few opportunities for deep dives into specific Linux needs, and I'm probably at or above a Linux+ level on what I haven't forgotten alone. All I can say is every time I go Linux, I realize I could easily make a career of it, but that I don't really see a compelling reason to switch. They're both equally enjoyable to me, but I'm so invested into Microsoft platform it would be hard to switch away without taking a pay cut. That being said, I suspect it will always have some role in my life.

    But to reiterate, it comes down to what you enjoy. Do that, unless it's Netware or something dying or dead. Microsoft, Cisco, VMware, Linux, database administration, security, or even combinations. If you want to do both, do both. I tend to believe arguments that true specialization leads to more money, but there are plenty of positions that want both high-level *nix and Windows skills and will pay for it, and I don't think getting really good at both is an impossible feat. There's always an opportunity cost, and in this case it's specializing in a subset of one area.
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  7. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #6
    It is reassuring that people believe that learning to excel at both NIX and WIN is a good idea.

    But right now, I'm just starting out in IT. I don't have much experience or skills. At least for now I have to make a conscious decision on which path to go down, even if in the future I learn to be a ninja at using and administering both. What are the pros and cons of learning either platform 1st? It seems like knowing Microsoft would give me a lot more opportunities in the future, although learning Linux could help me mold my CLI skills, which could be applied to networking.
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  8. Junior Starcraft Engineer
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    #7
    Frankly, I don't think you have a decision to make at this time.

    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNNs
    I just accepted a position in a company that uses nothing but linux machines.
    See how you like this work. Take a peek at Server 2012 and/or 2008 R2 on your own time. You may decide Windows interests you or would be preferable to work with over Linux. You might decide you're content going all Linux.
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  9. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #8
    I'm working a tier 1 position which is practically all customer service. And they mostly use Ubuntu with the GUI.

    But it is true that the more I learn the easier/faster I'll be able to move up in the company. Tier 2 is a lot more technical that tier 1 and any little bit I learn would help me progress and allow me to take on more responsibilities.

    I start the positon next week. I actually have to call the manager back tomorrow to make my schedule. I guess I'll see how the first week goes and then start thinking about creating a home lab and looking into the Linux+ materials.

    And I'll hold off on racing to put MCITP/MCSA onto my resume. lol
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  10. Senior Member W Stewart's Avatar
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    #9
    What caused me to go down the linux route was actually using it and seeing the amount of flexibility, control and transparency Linux has over Windows. It seems like you can do just about anything with Linux once you learn it well enough. I started out at a shop supporting point of sales systems and learned from some very intelligent people. They pay was crap and most Linux admin jobs want at least 3-5 years of experience but once you've built up enough experience you'll be a very valuable asset to any company you work for. I'd say just learn as much as you can and in about a year or two, those man pages will become your best friend.
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  11. Member
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNNs View Post
    It seems like knowing Microsoft would give me a lot more opportunities in the future, although learning Linux could help me mold my CLI skills, which could be applied to networking.
    Actually not entirely true, linux server administration is a growing market.
    OnT: Go linux if you want to know how things actually work, go m$ is you want to reboot machines. But on a serious note tho, it will probably be easier to transition from *nix if you want to go down the networking route. As bash/python/perl scripting skills are very desirable in networking.
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  12. Delivering
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    #11
    For print servers Linux all the way! We recently migrated 9 MS boxes over to one Linux box and it has been beautiful.
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  13. Senior Member
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    #12
    I wish I had more Linux skillz but my jobs are centered around MS and networking. If you get the opportunity to gain some *nix experience early in your career then it is a no brainer. My cousin is a consultant for Red Hat (not a consultant who knows red hat but he actually works for the company) which pays him very well. However, having worked with him and with MS consultants I can say that their skillz in their respective areas are competitive. MS admins get a lot of heck because it is pretty easy to administer a generic wintel environment. Having said that, it is not enormously difficult to set up a linux network, heck, all the documentation is available on the web. However, when you get to a level [I call it 'beyond technet'] on either platform you can truly make those things [*nix or wintel] sing. This is beyond the boilerplate discussions on which OS is more secure [apache is compromised regularly] or which one performs better under 100% load. Get the experience, but respect both OS' for their capabilities.
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  14. Self-Described Huguenot blargoe's Avatar
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    #13
    Quote Originally Posted by ptilsen View Post
    Blargoe, if you're implying that you don't need to understand how web or DNS servers work to effectively administrate them in a Microsoft environment, I'm going to have to disagree strongly. If you're just saying that configuring them on Linux is a better (or more forceful and faster) way, then I can get on that train. You can definitely install most server roles on a Windows server without actually knowing that much about they underlying workings, but you're going to be limited in your ability to support them or to design them effectively.
    This is really what I had in mind when I said that. I wasn't really trying to say that you don't need to understand how name resolution works to be effective in an Microsoft environment, but I have encountered many "Windows Admins" who were charged with DNS administration, but have no idea what to do with DNS other than right click -> add (A) record... "effective" Windows admins are becoming few and far between. Using Linux requires you to learn more about the underlying technology, whether it's a DNS server, a Web server, or whatever.

    Also not saying that either Microsoft or Linux is better or worse than the other as an operating system, or as a career path. Become elite at either one, and you will do very, very well.
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    #14
    I would look at what jobs are in your area. We have a good mix of Linux and Windows jobs here. But beyond that ask your-self. How much time and effortt do you want to put into either platform or do you want to learn both. Its all up to you.
    "A lot of fellows nowadays have a B.A., M.D., or Ph.D. Unfortunately, they don't have a J.O.B."

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  16. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #15
    Ultimately I think I want to get into networking. Just started working on my CCENT - currently on like chpt 4/20 in the for Dummies book, and still plan to go thru the Odom book after that.

    Because of my intended direction towards networking I don't exactly know how much time and effort I want to/should spend learning the intricacies of different OSes. And I feel like Linus has a steep learning curve, esp compared to the other platforms. Personally, I think it's a necessity to be extremely comfortable troubleshooting and configing whatever OS your org uses when starting out in IT, even if not so well-versed to become certified in it. But beyond that, I'm too much of a noob to know what would be a valuable skill and what's extraneous.

    I thought learning Linux/MS would be a great skill, but just yest I talked to a Networking Manager and he essentially claimed it to be a waste of time. I'm pretty confused at the moment.
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  17. Senior Junior linuxlover's Avatar
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    #16
    Join the club. I'm also lost in the win/linux/networking triangle and can't really decide which path to take. I've been exploring Payscale.com today to see how the salaries compare but it's all relative.
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  18. Chasing Life Xyro's Avatar
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    #17
    Quote Originally Posted by DoubleNNs View Post
    ...yest I talked to a Networking Manager and he essentially claimed it to be a waste of time. I'm pretty confused at the moment.
    All one need do is spend about 30 min. looking through job postings to realize this must be untrue.
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  19. Livin is ez w/ I's closed
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    #18
    This should spread some insight

    High demand pushes Linux salaries higher
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  20. Senior Member rsutton's Avatar
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    #19
    Don't base your decision on salary. You will make the most money working with the technology you enjoy - and you probably wont know what that is until you get a chance to get your feet wet. Follow your passion.
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  21. Senior Member W Stewart's Avatar
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    #20
    It's a waste of time if you have no intentions of working with linux in your career and plan on avoiding it. Any competent network admin is at least going to know the basics of the OS his organization uses like you said. He seems like one of those guys who hates on linux because of the learning curve. The last two jobs I interviewed for pretty much jumped at the opportunity to hire me because I knew linux. One of them was at an ISP but I'm not looking to go the networking route myself.
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  22. Senior Member DoubleNNs's Avatar
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    #21
    In his defense I think he's just one of those minimalist guys - he wanted to do Networking specifically and so he only got certed in Networking. He focused on that part of the field and made sure he knew the ins and outs of it.

    Then he turned into a manager, and although he knows the technical side, he no longer has to use it in his job.

    I don't think I want to follow what he did exactly, but it's an example that being highly specializing and cutting out the extraneous info works.
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  23. Senior Member
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    #22
    I started my career in Linux and work in at the enterprise level with Windows Server. I use Linux on my laptop (currently Fedora with KDE). A career in Linux is definitely viable. Once you've reached the intermediate or advanced level of administration, it's very likely you'll ever be unemployed. Replacing a good *Nix guy takes MONTHS and there are few candidates. That said, the learning curve is long and the time to get to mastery is longer than Windows. FYI, to clarify, becoming a Windows master is no small feat either.

    The major difference is that when working with Linux it's highly likely you'll work in an Enterprise or for a consulting firm. It's unlikely you'll work in the small or medium business realm.

    The major difference in using Linux and Windows is that Linux demands you fully understand the process. Windows not so much. Adding IIS to Windows Server is much easier than Apache on Linux. The configuration of Apache is more complex than IIS.

    Like an above poster said, please follow your passion. When you like something you'll do great at it. If you just do it for a job you likely wont.
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  24. Virtual Member undomiel's Avatar
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    #23
    Quote Originally Posted by antielvis View Post
    The major difference in using Linux and Windows is that Linux demands you fully understand the process. Windows not so much. Adding IIS to Windows Server is much easier than Apache on Linux. The configuration of Apache is more complex than IIS.
    I would completely disagree with this.
    Windows - Add IIS role, make sure you have the management tools selected as well, install, open up port in firewall
    Linux - yum install httpd, chkconfig httpd on, service httpd start, open port in firewall (yes I understand the process is different based on distribution)

    Neither require an indepth understanding of how the applications work or how Windows or Linux work. A quick google will get you step by step instructions and you're none the wiser.

    If you're doing something complex with either then you'll need a deeper understanding of both IIS and Apache. Apache config files can get pretty hairy and IIS *.config files with their "human readable" XML are no piece of cake either.

    I've personally found it pretty difficulty to find networking, virtualization, Linux or Windows masters. It seems people achieve a certain level of skill and are content to stagnate there, without ever wanting to understand the underlying processes. I know people that go straight through checklists on Exchange migrations, in which each task's steps are spelled out, and they will complete the entire migration as per the checklist without understanding how any of it really works. So then I have to come in behind and fix the things that don't entirely match the checklist such as queues building up with public folder replication messages, which the guy doesn't recognize because it doesn't match his checklist. It is pretty frustrating.
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  25. Senior Member
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    #24
    @Undomiel:

    I disagree. Working in a command line you are more likely to understand exactly what the command does & why. Clicking on a button or a drop down menu and you are not. Take the average user and have them attempt it, 99% o the time they'd say "its' easier on Windows". That's why a GUI was created.

    For basic to junior administration, in Linux you its how and why. In Windows it's how.
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