Is there a Linux skills shortage? Not from where I'm sitting.

Not to beat the topic to death, but I wanted to chime in on this story about a perceived Linux skills shortage. Two points I'd like to make.

Not to beat the topic to death, but I wanted to chime in on this story about a perceived Linux skills shortage.

Two points I'd like to make. First, from where I'm sitting, there's no shortage of skilled Linux admins in the market looking for jobs. I participate in the Colorado Linux Users and Enthusiasts (CLUE) mailing lists, and don't see much evidence that my fellow Linux geeks are finding the job market any more hospitable than other folks in the IT industry. Linux skills are certainly a plus, and a skilled Linux admin is likely to be able to find a job without resorting to a position in the fast food industry -- but there's no evidence of a drastic shortage of Linux skills. (Much to my dismay, at times...)

Also, as the article points out, schools are churning out Linux-friendly graduates at a brisk pace. Many universities are including Linux in the curriculum for IT students, and many IT students take an interest in Linux on their own before they reach university.

Second, I'm not sure I agree with Dana's position that "If you're a capable computer manager, even a Windows geek, you can pick up Linux pretty quickly." Windows skills don't translate well to Linux or other UNIX-type operating systems, and vice-versa.

Sure, your average Windows user can comfortably make the transition to using a distribution like SUSE or Fedora on their desktop with relative ease. There's little need to know the array of command-line utilities that a nix admin needs to be familiar with to run a Linux desktop. If you can point and click, the install for SUSE, Mandrake Linux, Fedora Core and Xandros (just to name a few) is just as easy as installing Windows XP.

But there's a huge difference between administering services on a Windows 2003 server and administering the same services on a Linux machine. With a decent training program, a savvy MSCE could be competent on Linux within a few months, but they're not going to pick those skills up on the fly just by sitting down at a Linux system and poking around. It's a completely different environment, and requires a set of skills that your average Windows admin has not needed to develop.

However, companies should not let training costs dissuade them from exploring Linux. Windows admins worth their salt can be trained to administer Linux systems, and they just might find that there are some serious advantages to the Linux environment.


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