If you’re as comfortable with NetWare services as you are in your favorite old jeans, we’ve got good news: the NetWare services you’ve grown to know and love are also available on Novell Open Enterprise Server for Linux. The arguably better news is that getting and keeping Open Enterprise Server for Linux up and running is easier than you might think—and this series intends to prove it to you.
This is the last article in a nine-part series designed to help bridge your existing NetWare skill base to Open Enterprise Server for Linux. Like Novell's free training program upon which it was based, this series worked to demystify the process of deploying and managing Open Enterprise Server for Linux. (See novell.com/products/openenterpriseserver/migrate.html. For information about and links to previous articles in this series, see Blasts from the Past Eight.)
If you've read the series, you now have a basic understanding of the notable similarities and few differences between managing Open Enterprise Server for Linux and managing NetWare. So now what? What are the next steps you should take along the Linux learning path? This article offers pointers about what you can do and to what or whom you can turn to increase your improved but still nascent understanding of Linux.
> Jump In (With Both Hands)
The old adage you've heard applied to learning a language applies to learning Linux as well: if you want to learn quickly, jump in. Assuming that you have worked through this nine-part series or through the training program upon which it based, the time is right for you to stop reading about Linux and start using it.
The good news is, you don't have to pay a dime for your trouble. From download.novell.com, you can download evaluation copies of the following Linux software:
- Novell Linux Desktop 9 SP1(recommended for work use)
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop 10 (recommended for work or home and ideal for the new Linux user)
- SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9
- Open Enterprise Server for Linux
When you are getting started with the Linux desktop, make a list of the applications you use at work and home. Armed with your list, start searching for Linux alternatives (preferably the free, open source variety). (For a partial listing of hundreds of Linux apps that were available even two years ago, see Full Steam Ahead in the September/October 2004 issue at novell.com/connectionmagazine/2004/09/tech_talk_4.html.)
And if you have used Google or another comparable search engine once or twice, searching for alternatives on the Internet shouldn't be a problem, either. For example, try searching for "open source alternatives to Adobe" in Google, and you'll get literally millions of hits, including a link to onenw.org/toolkit/alternatives-to-adobe.
Of course, you won't have to find alternatives to every application you use. Novell helps on this front. For example, out of the box, the Linux desktops you can get from Novell enable you to browse the Web, send e-mail, chat with friends and create documents, spreadsheets and presentations. (See Figure 1.) Incidentally, you create documents, spreadsheets and presentations using an open source alternative to Microsoft Word called OpenOffice.org that you can download for free from the site with the same name. Stay tuned for the upcoming series on this subject.
If you come across applications for which you are unable to find a Linux equivalent, don't despair. Instead, check out CodeWeavers' CrossOver Linux (codeweavers.com/site/products/cxoffice). As evidence of its mission to transform Mac OS and Linux into Windows-compatible operating systems, CodeWeaver offers CrossOver Linux. CrossOver Linux provides an easy-to-use interface that enables you to quickly install on Linux your favorite Windows applications, plugins and games–without a Microsoft Operating System license.
You also can use Wine to run many of your Win32, Win16 and DOS applications on Linux. Wine comes preinstalled on Novell SUSE Linux products. You'll find Wine in a hidden directory (.wine) in the user's Home directory. For details on Wine, see the Cool Solutions article on the subject: Running Existing Win32 Applications on SUSE Linux (novell.com/coolsolutions/feature/11224.html).
When you're ready to test the Linux server, consider starting with the projects outlined in the Novell white paper, Where to Start: Novell Open Enterprise Server. This white paper outlines the gist of the steps required to complete six projects that involve making use of your new Linux server. If you prefer more detail than just the "gist" this white paper provides, see these three Novell Connection magazine articles, inspired by the aforementioned white paper:
> Find a Linux Guru
When you want to master a subject, what better, easier way than to find and keep on a short leash your own personal guru. That sounds great, but where can you find a Linux veteran?
You are likely to find Linux experts kicking around the most ordinary places: your office, your neighborhood, your church or any other turf you frequent. Just pay attention and ask around.
Whether or not you find a local guru, you'll also want access to online user groups and forums.
- To find a Linux user group, start by checking out the Novell Web site where you'll find links to several lists of international Linux user groups: novell.com/products/suselinux/links/#lugs.
- To find a Linux forum, start by Googling "public Linux forums for newbies."
> Ask Questions that Get Answers
Whether you have a local Linux hero at your disposal or can access only the experts online, you need to learn to pose the right type of question to get the answers you need. As authors Eric Raymond and Rick Moen say in How to Ask Questions the Smart Way, the way you ask technical questions is as important to obtaining a satisfactory answer as the difficulty of developing the answer. (You can find this article at catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html.)
What's the smart way to ask a question? Well, if how not to ask helps you better understand, then you should know that that particular question is a stupid one because it has an obvious answer: read the article by self-proclaimed hackers Raymond and Moen. The list below is only a book-flap summary of the smart-question article.
- Research the problem before asking the question. For example, before you waste a guru's precious time, see if you can find the answer for yourself by searching the Web, reading the manual, perusing subject-specific FAQs, and inspecting the problem and experimenting with solutions. (For more pointers on where to look for help, see Finding a Linux Guru and Building a Linux Library.)
- "Groveling is not a substitute for doing your homework," Raymond and Moen point out. "Some people who get that they shouldn't behave rudely or arrogantly ... retreat to ... groveling," the authors say, speaking from experience. "The 'I know I'm just a pathetic newbie loser, but...' [approach] is distracting...unhelpful...[and] annoying."
- When you ask your question, let your Zen master know all the myriad resources and methods you have already tried in search of an answer. If you really want to impress the master, tell him or her what you have learned from your search.
- Take the time to create a hard, thought-provoking question. Technical gurus not only appreciate but actually thrive on challenges. Among the technically elite, note Raymond and Moen, "'Good question!' is a strong and sincere compliment." People who ask uninteresting, thoughtless questions are "lusers" in their book.
- Never ask a yes-no question if you want more than "Yes" or "No" for an answer. (See Figure 2.)
When You Ask
- Choose your target carefully. Technical experts are likely to ignore questions that are directed to the wrong person, forum or newsgroup. (See Finding a Linux Guru.)
- Web forums for newbies are good first places to ask your question, particularly if you suspect that you have a relatively simple or common problem.
- Check the project's documentation and homepage and, if the project has a development mailing list, write to the mailing list (as opposed to individual developers).
- Use meaningful subject headers and, whatever you do, don't get dramatic. For example, don't cry, "Help me!...I'm m-e-l-t-i-n-g!" Instead, get to the point. "One good convention," Raymond and Moen offer helpfully, "is object-deviation," where "object" specifies what thing or group of things is causing you difficulty and "deviation" describes what is different from the behavior you would expect.
- While finding an answer to your problem seems "urgent" to you, resist the temptation to flag your question as such. The technically gifted fielding your question are likely to be annoyed by such a flag and dismiss it as a rude attempt to get special attention.
- Just because you're having problems, do not assume–and don't claim–that you have found a bug, unless you are positive.
- Be precise and explicit in describing your problem.
- Use grammatically correct language–with no spelling errors.
- Mind your manners. "Please" and "thank you" are polite, appropriate, and appreciated in any arena.
After You Ask
- If the "answer" you receive appears to be an arcane abbreviation, such as RTFM or STFW, then you will know that you have not asked a smart question. Your expert has just told you to Read the Manual or Search the Web, with the expert's added emphasis deleted here.
- If you don't understand the answer, don't demand clarification. Instead, begin again at the beginning: that is, search manuals, FAQs and the Web.
- Don't expect the answer to make you feel warm and fuzzy. Gear up for what may seem like a curt response–and deal with it. These are busy people whose problem-solving skills are frequently better than their social skills.
For a rather lengthy list of examples of both smart and stupid questions, scroll through to the end of Raymond and Moen's conversational, amusing article.
> Build a Linux Library
Before you can ask a smart question, you need to do a lot of research. Here are just a few of the physical and digital resources you might want to keep as staples in your Linux library (See Figure 3.):
- The Joy of Linux: A Gourmet Guide to Open Source (Muska & Lipman Publishing) by Michael Hall and Brian Proffitt.
- Linux Desktop Garage (Novell Press) by Susan Matteson.
- Linux Network Architecture (Novell Press) by Klaus Wehrle, Frank Pahlke, Hartmut Ritter, Daniel Muller and Marc Bechler.
- Linux Quick Fix Notebook (Prentice Hall PTR) by Peter Harrison.
- Moving to Linux: Kiss the Blue Screen of Death Goodbye! (Novell Press) by Marcel Gagne.
- Novell Certified Linux 9 (CLE 9) Study Guide (Novell Press) by Robb H. Tracey.
- Open Sources–Voices from the Open Source Revolution (O'Reilly) by Chris DiBona, Sam Ockman and Mark Stone.
- Running Linux (O'Reilly) by Matt Welsh, Matthias Kalle Dalheimer and Lar Kaufman.
> Go for the Gold
When you find yourself helping other Linux newbies and saying things like, "Yes, I'm quite familiar with Linux," it's probably time to seek the certification that will give your claim some clout. (See Figure 4.) Novell offers the following Linux certifications:
Listed among the CertCities.com "10 Hottest Certifications for 2005," the Certified Linux Professional certification is geared toward new Linux administrators. Stepping stones on the path to this certificate are as follows:
- SUSE Linux Fundamentals (Course 3036) or Getting Started with Linux (Course 3060)
- SUSE Linux Administration (Course 3037)
- Advanced SUSE Linux Administration (Course 3038)
- Novell CLP Required Practical Exam, Novell Practicum: 050-689
Those seeking the Certified SUSE Linux Engineer 9 certification have to satisfy these criteria:
- Novell Certified Linux Professional certification
- Fundamentals of Networking (Course 3003) or equivalent knowledge or experience suggested (solid understanding of networking required)
- SUSE Linux Network Services (Course 3057)
- SUSE Linux Security (Course 3058)
- Novell CLE Required Practical Exam, Novell Practicum: 050-693
> Get to the Point
If it all sounds like a lot of work, you might be left asking, "Why bother bridging my skills from NetWare to Linux?" For one thing, Linux is hot–really hot. Learning Linux makes you more marketable. If you don't care about marketability, think about your own network. Learning Linux opens the door to flexibility–and the potential for cost savings–you've never before experienced, particularly when you run Open Enterprise Server.
So join hands with Linux and make a new friend, but, by all means, keep your old friend NetWare. One is silver, the other gold–and only time can tell for you which is which.