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The truth about Linux – Robots vs Passion

By Coman Doyle

I’ve been a Linux user since I started with Knoppix ‘on the fly’ in 2002. I remember I then tried to install either Fedora or Mandrake… I think Fedora on my old Acer Aspire but it “couldn’t load X”. I then finally migrated from Windows to Linux around 2007 with Feisty Fawn…  and let me tell you that it’s been a steep learning curve since, and still is. Between learning how to make sure X is found or at doesn’t crash (usually due to driver conflicts with Compiz) or settings user permissions so VirtualBox can capture the USB devices, or making changes with gEdit so you can get wireless working on your Broadcom chip – it’s all been a steep but very rewarding learning curve.

So what’s my point?

I make these points because I think businesses still have a steep learning curve to experience with Linux. You see, Windows is a professional industry – as in an industry that is designed to make money and nothing else.

Microsoft have a litany of certificates that you can get to distinguish yourself from the next person; they have an army of sales agents, a market cornered with their OS, headquarters all over the world, and 3 founding members that are among the richest men on earth. Linux on the other hand was designed as a hobbyists outlet.

Linux was released into the wild as a project… not a business plan. That’s what businesses don’t seem to understand. Yes, 9 / 10 of the worlds most powerful servers run Linux, and yes you can now get RedHat or CentOS certified, and Ubuntu and Mint are trying to take over the desktops, but it’s still a hobbyists game.

This is what hiring managers have to learn.

A RHEL certificate doesn’t mean the engineer is good, it just means the engineer learned to pass an exam… it doesn’t reflect a real interest or passion for the Kernel.

The real people that hiring managers need to look for are the guys, or girls, that are passionate about Linux. People that install Linux so they can write scripts or compile Kernels; people that use Arch because it offers them more flexibility and freedom; people that contribute to writing or testing code for free in their own spare time. Businesses want certified candidates in a certain Kernel; they don’t want passion, they want certificates; they don’t want the hobbyist that really knows the nitty-gritty of Linux; they want certifications and more experience then they can realistically expect… and they won’t it cheap. They want robots, not passion!

The unfortunate reality is this: as Linux grows and becomes more popular and ubiquitous, more and more certs are going to be needed to distinguish between the hobbyist and the professionals because hiring managers just see Linux as another ‘thing’, another tech they’ve never used or will ever use. What hiring managers should be concentrating on is their learning curve and the reward it has at the end for them and their business.

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