Career question - UNIX - will it be in demand in 10 + years / what traits do you need to be good at it?

fcek used Ask the Experts™
Is unix very difficult?
Will it be in demand in a few years?
Is it in demand now?
Do you have to be  a whiz at maths?
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Is unix very difficult?
Depends upon your aptitude and understanding.  Although GUI is available, it is mostly command line which makes it kind of unfriendly and has a steep learning curve.

Will it be in demand in a few years?
Sure.  If you add Linux in the same category, then even more so.

Is it in demand now?
Where do you live?  It is very relative.  In general yes.

Do you have to be  a whiz at maths?
No, not at all
Distinguished Expert 2017
Managing any system, you need analytical, troubleshooting and problem solving skills.
It depends what you think you will be doing.
Unix is a platform.
Are you thinking of administering systems, programming, application specific functionality?
Top Expert 2007
This question is there since 70s :)

UNIX has many flavors like Solaris, AIX, HP-UX, etc. plus linux and its own flavors.

I expect that UNIX / Linux will continue to be the choice for more than 10 years :)

Difficulty comes from having different management tools / commands on different versions of it. This is not a problem since there are manuals and guides for each.
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Apple's iOS is a Unix-based operating system, and they've sold almost a half-billion iOS devices. A solid understanding of Unix is likely to serve you well far into the future, because the principles have been adopted by so many platforms.


I used command line on Digital Vax in the late 80s for a few months.  I was just a user.
I have a limited knowledge of DOS but not scared of command line.

Ive good skills troubleshooting HW / SW issues on PCs and have for the last 10 years PC repair business but its not making enough money now.  As a one man show I stayed away from servers and worked on workgroups in very small companies and home offices etc.
Im self trained learning to task.  Ive no courses behind me but have natural aptitude for computers.   I want to work for a company again (the man - if he will have me!)

Im need to get skilled up in something thats in demand and will be for a considerable amount of time.  Kid to feed now :-)

Ive a feeling too many people are going the Cisco / Microsoft Sys admin role.  Im wondering would a UNIX / Linux direction be better?  What aspect of UNIX to learn? How easily this could lead to a job?  What course to do?

Your thoughts anyone?
Distinguished Expert 2017
If your aptitude is in troubleshooting, problem, solving, you should maintain and build on your existing knowledge and possibly expand into AD using your .
Get VMWARE ESXi server and build yourself VMs using centos which is a derivative from redHat.

Depending on your existing client base, you could look into adding network/wiring.


Thanks arnold.

Im tired of supporting people Solo.  I havnt had a holiday in 10 years that the phone doesnt ring and someone needs help somewhere and Ive to remote and/or phone support.  Its no way to live.  Im not interested in taking on employees.  I want to move away from self employment to working for the man.  

Organic growth - building on what you know already is perhaps the way to go but change could also be good.

What ever I choose it needs to be a path to employment relatively soon and something there is demand for in the future.

Ive got a bit lazy as well fixing the same old same old op sys.

The positive thing is that a % drop in business gives me an opportunity to look at a new direction. So many times Ive been like a headless chicken with so much solo work.

So AD - Active Directory. OK I will have a look as I have always shy away from servers.

> VMWARE ESXi server and build yourself VMs using centos which is a derivative from redHat.

Will have a look at that.

Anyone any other suggestions?

Re UNIX - is it difficult to get employment or is experience required generally before any employer would let you loose on their systems. Is it very high end?
Distinguished Expert 2017
You could use your existing client base in pursuit of employment with a larger firm that offers these service while your position with the firm will allow you the space to grow.
Learn additional/acquire additional skills.
Understand, your dilemma.

Linux as well as VMware/virtualization/cloud will continue to be in demand.
Elevating from hardware/OS troubleshooting to application level servers, database, web, mail, etc.
Top Expert 2015
Being 20 years or so in this trade - it is not difficult, nor time consuming.
Boiggest problem is to convince headhunting agents that 20 years of UNIX exceeds knowledge of 1 year old mickey mouse linux certification.
Distinguished Expert 2017
Loose on the system? Your current background of trouble shooting, HW fixes shows aptitude, the remaining item whether those skills translate to the different platforms which involves having a familiarity with how the other system works in terms of what to expect.
First thing to always remember the log files are a huge resource for information which is located in /var/log.
Configuration files are generally in /etc.

There are some variations among the different Linux/unix OSs. Dealing with certain application. Naming of application I.e. some have the web server referenced as httpd vs apache or apache2 and the configuration directory in /etc/ to match as are the log naming convention in /var/log.

Linux is just the OS, unless all you want to do is installs and OS maintenance.

Do you have individuals such as yourself in your area, combining might be.....

Aptitude to move with what comes up, I.e. having the ability to quickly learn the OS/applications as new ones come out.


Im self taught to date but Im going to need some certs and more luck it seems.
Better to be talented/have an instinct than only to be good at multiple choice questions.

I still have enough funds coming in but I need to have some sort of elevation plan in the next 6 mths.

I have been working solo (responsibility wise) for so long I feel almost institutionalised and might have a bit of adjusting to working within a team and having management over my head.  I work hard so I should be able to please.  The upside will be 5PM friday clock out.  

Onwards and upwards.

Thanks all for the insights ideas people.
Distinguished Expert 2017
Do you have an option/consideration to join forces with someone in your area that provide similar services?
Expanding by combining may do what you are looking for. I.e. have an additional person who would enable you to take the vacation you haven't. The combination depending on the other person's revenue stream will either decrease or increase yours. It might be that in the long run it could expand the combined that could not occur as each can only do so much in the same hour.

You seem to have a solid client base that rely on you.  Unfortunately, because of current economic conditions, they are cutting back. Are there consulting firms in your area who cater to firms such as you serve?
 Because you are a sole proprietor, expanding your own offerings sounds as out of the question at this time given that taking on additional expenses where a stream of revenue is not guaranteed.

Installing Linux/unix is not that different than installing any other software.
It does not take that long and you can learn to your knowledge in short order with no additional expense.
1) pick a Linux distribution and install it.
2) create/add users (useradd), remove a user userdel
3) setup DNS server with one authoritative domain(mydomain.local) bind has many examples.
4) configure a mail server to handle emails for mydomain.local ( for simplicity/ease of use I suggest you consider using postfix rather than sendmail.)
5) configure pop/imap services on the system so that you can retrieve emails
6) configure a web server
7) configure a database server (mysql)
8) setup a web based access to email (squirlemail, etc)

There are many resources available that can be found to guide you through each step, including existing articles here dealing with difficulties some have run into.
Going through this will get you familiar with the processors.

Most enterprises use RedHat distribution for their Linux systems as the vendor provides for a update path that maintains existing major.minor version while releasing security updates as a micro version revision which eliminates the likelihood that an update of the OS or vendor provided services will break an application that relies on them. Other distributions have update/upgrade paths that advanced with newer versions.  Those require that the admin be familiar with what the application relies on and then checking the change report from the version that will be installed to make sure it does not take away a resource/functionality on which an existing application relies.

The steps above will help you add to your understanding of how each service works and what needs to be considered if something does not work, how to get it to work.

LDAP/NIS/directory services are something you could consider down the line LDAP is the basis on which AD is "constructed".

Oracle, and RedHat have certification.
Top Expert 2015
Just keep to yourself what you said against teamwork, and you will be fine without certificates.


Posted on another forum ..........

Also consider Citrix certification. A big player in many markets, and there's a SEVERE lack of expertise in the country. You seem to be more comfortable on the windows side, so that might assist with that.

I would agree with this. As said earlier in this thread cloud and virtualization technology is growing every day and there is a lack of skills.
Look at Vmware, Citrix or Microsoft Hyper-v

Best of luck


Hi, Thanks for all the advice, I will report back soon.


Thanks everyone

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