Is Linux education more valuable for a career in IT?

I keep getting the impression that it would be (if not now than probably in the near future), because running a bussiness on windows requires that you buy a license for every copy of the software, where as with Linux (afaik) you only pay for support, and that’s only if you need it. (like if you work for a small business, or something like that)

Therefore, I wonder, would knowing how to set up and maintain a Linux network be a more valuable skill in the near future, just on the merrit of saving thousands of dollars in doing so?

My own deduction is “yes”, but not being a profesional IT guy (yet), I can’t really be sure, so I am asking someone who is already working in IT with Linux to give me a clear picture of the actual market reality as it stands now.


as from what i can understand fairly much only the governments use windows nextworks (such as normal school and office’s) so if you manage to get contracted by them you need to know windows systems.

From what i see also is that private companies prefer to use linux but it isnt necessarily free. Linux red hat which is a distro for use in servers but it has a hefty price tag as well… that is issued per computer…

so depending on how your career sets up id suggest learning both…

Every place is different, so there is no one answer that covers everything. As soon as you’re prepared for it being one particular way, you’ll find yourself in the place that is contrary to the rule.

These are my experiences (based on time up until now) - depending on how many years before you expect to find yourself in the workforce, things may change some between now and then.

In general, you can count on just about all desktops being (some version of) Windows. Usually, one version behind “current” as most companies like to have them all the same, and you don’t just upgrade because something is new - you need to make sure it works with the infrastructure you have in-house.

I’ve been involved with server-side Java development off and on for the last seven years at various locations. Before that, some Perl and ColdFusion, so I’ve gotten to work on a variety of server architectures. Most of the organizations I’ve been involved with are running on some flavor of *nix. Sometimes Linux, quite often Solaris. There’s some Windows in there as well, and an occasional z/OS.

Depending on what part of IT you are involved with, it may not matter. For example, WebSphere is pretty much the same across platforms - so if you find yourself as an application developer, you may not care. Administering the server is another thing. Recovering from a failure, upgrading hardware, or patching the OS is usually not in the domain of the application developer, and most places have dedicated people that are responsible for the well-being of the systems. Those people (usually) know one system or the other. There’s Windows admins, Linux admins, Solaris admins, etc. Sometimes (depending on the size of the company) they’ll do more than one - but quite often they are totally focused on their one platform.

For me, it has been helpful to know my way around both Windows and *nix systems. I tend to develop on Windows (desktop) but deploy to *nix servers. My preference is for servers to be *nix, simply because I like the remote administration better. I find it easier to work over an SSH connection, rather than have to use remote desktop. But you’ll probably find that in every shop of any considerable size, there is at least one server that is running the contrary platform simply to support some application that doesn’t run on whatever they’re running as mainstream.

If you find yourself less on the server side, but more on the desktop side - as I said, you’ll currently find almost entirely Windows systems. That may change some, but the Windows licensing costs are really not significant when compared to employee salaries, so if there is any lost time due to learning a new system - a company just will not “switch”.

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Sure… I’ve been a professional programmer for 25 years so-far and I’ve been in a lot of places. Let me try to give you “the low-down” as I see it.

The computer industry sees … has always seen … a fairly constant progression of hardware and software. And that stuff sometimes has an amazingly long lifespan, because the businesses that run it run their businesses on it. So, even to this day, you’ll find … IBM computers with (real!) core memories … DEC Vax … Data General … the still-alive-and-well descendents of the IBM System/360 … good ol’ Unix (Linux, Macintosh OS/X, BSD, UTS, and so-on) … and “new kids” like Microsoft Windows (based on DEC RSTS-E) and Microsoft Windows NT (based on DEC Vax/VMS). {And I’ve written professional programs for every single one of ‘em … tho’ not always willingly.}

In other words … diversity.

So, if you try to approach this strange and marvelous industry from the point-of-view of “trying to find the one thing that will be used forever,” I’d frankly say that you are missing the point. There will never be a “one thing,” because both the hardware and the software are in a constant state of flux. Companies are always simultaneously “pushing the envelope” for competitive advantage, and seeking to preserve the utility of what they already have.

Therefore, a seasoned computer professional needs to be flexible. Like any good cat, fall down any way you like, but always land on all four paws.

The one thing that was true in 1950 is still true today … companies still run their businesses on this stuff! Computers are never “the end unto itself,” but always “the means to an end.” Pixar/Disney doesn’t make computer-goodies… it makes movies, which is “stuff to watch while you’re making-out and/or eating popcorn (depending on your age and luck).” [That, I assure you, hasn’t changed in eighty years! :smiley: ]

Your true job, therefore, is to help your employer “run the business” in the most expedient way possible, using the (constantly changing) “hardware of the day.”

Believe it or not, “the computers of today” will, fifteen years from now, be seen as laughable. But they will still be in service! Because the companies that run them will still be in business.

Remember this: if you work for a company that sells popcorn, then your ultimate job is “to help the company sell more popcorn, X-er,” where “X” is {cheap, fast, bett} and so-on. You use the computer to supply the appropriate superlative. You’re not in the computer business; you’re in the popcorn business. A business that exists to sell popcorn is always in the popcorn business, and therefore never in the computer business.

And that is a simple business reality. For desktops in the corporate world, Windows is actually cheaper than Linux. Remember that a Windows lisence is actually pretty cheap and just about everyone already knows how to operate a Windows pc. The cost of the os is really negligible. The cost of switching to a new os for any business is very high.

Good input everyone. This is exactly the kind of information I was looking for.

Yes, that is true. Actually, at the last place I worked part time, they still ran some old IBM “AS400” app server.

Ok, so “diversity” seems to be the going consensus here. Yea, it makes sense.

Thanks guys.

One thing I forgot to mention. The idea that businesses only pay for Linux if they require support (and therefore it is cheaper). That’s not entirely true. In fact, most places that pay for RedHat Enterprise aren’t really paying for RedHat support - they’re paying to run an OS that their application vendor has “blessed” so that when they have a problem with the application they aren’t simply told “you’re running an unsupported OS.”

So, in general, companies pay for the commercial versions of Linux not as much because they need the OS support, but because they are the ones ‘certified’ by most of the commercial application developers. (Most apps target RHEL or Suse).

I spent three months this year working in Vancouver (in Canada) as an I.T. support guy for a company that does tech support for small business. Our clients consisted of realtors, insurance, a local airport, private clients with lots of money, etc. All of our clients (except for one) ran windows server 2003 and either windows 2000 or windows xp professional.

The small business market in Vancouver (I can’t speak for anywhere else) is almost %100 windows server 2003 based.

A friend of mine got an internal promotion for knowing Linux. He works for a major Telephone company here in Australia. He said mainly they want backend stuff like Mysql, crypto, VNC on a Linux enviroment. But Mysql was the big one.

And how many of those do we have?