April 27, 2016
by Brent Marinaccio

System Administrator vs DevOps engineer As we go through life, things are always evolving. We may have come to know of something by one name, only to find out later in life we call it something else. Change is always on the horizon. Therefore, one must keep up to not fall behind. In one area of technical jobs, this seems to be the case over the last couple of years. For a long time, we would get calls from companies searching for system administrators. Now, the calls revolve around the need these companies have for a DevOps engineer. So, what is the difference? Is there any? There seems to varying opinions on this, but a consensus seems to be coming into focus.

Earlier this month, Red Hat announced that they now have a certification program with DevOps as a focal point. As you read their announcement, the stress is on the need for these individuals to validate their skill levels in the areas of containers, OpenShift, Ansible, Puppet, etc. Ok, seems to make sense. But, aren't these the skills that a lot of companies required by the previously called “system administrators”? Surely they are, depending on how old the technology. Before the name shift, we had plenty of positions for Linux system administrators that included bullet points about the need for experience with Chef, Puppet, etc. Thus, many are left scratching their head. One might be thinking, if I always considered myself a system administrator, am I now a DevOps engineer? The more than likely answer is yes, but not always.

As I scoured many different platforms discussing this particular question, the most highly credited answers seem to be aligning themselves. More often than not, it is not necessarily about a particular skill one must learn. Instead, the core behind the name change seems to revolve around a company's work flow. As Ken Goetz, Vice President of Training at Red Hat states, “DevOps isn't a product but rather a culture and process”. Before, one may have looked at the system administrator role as one of a protector, spending time making sure the business didn't suffer from developers mistakes. Now, the focus seems to have shifted to one of collaboration. The DevOps engineer has a goal of communicating with the developers and allow them to build the business in a safe manner that benefits all.

To conclude, one must not necessarily worry about learning new technologies to consider themselves a DevOps engineer. Instead, one must make sure that they are employed at a company that is moving the process in which they work forward. It seems to make sense that DevOps engineers and developers are in constant communication, and this is just a byproduct of that. Did this change in culture deserve a change in the name of a particular position? That can be argued. But, at the end of the day, just as corporations are constantly evolving their processes, one must do the same to stay ahead of the pack. Just make sure you are with a company that has moved or is moving in this direction.

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Jan 26, 2016
by Brent Marinaccio

how to become a linux kernel developer In any walk of life, communication is a crucial component to success. Whether it be verbal or written, it is essential to proceed forward in a relationship, project, etc. One might be asking, what does this have to do with open source development. You did not come here to read about some Dear Abby situation. However, communication is the lifeblood of any successful open source project. If everyone turned a blind eye toward Linus' post way back when, Linux would never be what it is today. Of course the code is paramount as well, but it all starts with communication. The collaborative process hinges itself on human interaction.

By now you might be thinking, I get what you are saying, but why the need to write about it. Well, in the last couple of months it has reached a near fever pitch that I had not seen in some time, maybe ever. There has always been your one-off complaints here and there about the “directness” of some of the kernel developers when responding about ones code. But, it usually makes a headline for a day and everyone seems to move on. That was not the case recently. A few months back, two notable kernel developers decided that they were going to no longer dedicate time to the Linux kernel project based on the treatment they received from other developers. Whatever side of the fence you are on in this debate, the fact of the matter is the kernel project lost some brain power.

Therefore, should the kernel project continue in the same manner it has operated throughout its history? Should changes be made as a result of these recent developments? That is a question that will be answered as time moves on. It goes without saying, historically speaking, one needs to have fairly thick skin to be successful in the Linux kernel development process. One better be ready for constructive criticism, and it might not come back in the manner in which you prefer. Does this need to change? I do not know. But, I do know that the current environment is much different than the one I grew up with. Some might say it is a softer society. Others might say it is a kinder society. Whatever the case might be, it is different. And, I will leave it at that.

At the end of the day, in order for the Linux kernel to be the best it can be, it needs to have interested developers providing the best code possible. And, that means all developers. Too many times in life, something does not reach its full potential due to a breakdown in communication. The Linux kernel has excelled due to an innate ability of developers making sure that the sum is greater than the parts. It has happened through successful communication. I am confident whatever changes will be made, if any, will continue to result in the Linux kernel being the most successful open source project to date.

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October 28, 2015
by Brent Marinaccio

how to become a linux kernel developer It is a great position to aspire to become. Even more so, it is a noble feat once it is realized. But, how does one get from point A to Z? As with many things in life, there are a number of different ways to achieve that goal. I will address some rudimentary steps that should help point an interested person in the right direction. Just remember that it is a journey; one that differs based on the individual.

Kernel code is written in C. I know most reading this column are thinking to themselves, well duh? And, your reaction is warranted. But, believe it or not, I speak to candidates that stress their desire to become a kernel developer. Yet, they have barely ever written a line of C code. Well, that is step one. You need to have fluency in that language to have any chance of realizing your dream.

Monitor the Linux Kernel Mailing List (the famous lkml). One needs to be aware of the way the developers communicate, and the process of introducing a new batch of code. The only way that is going to be accomplished is if you take the time to familiarize yourself with the process. There has been a lot made of the “way” developers communicate on that list, and I will address that in a future column. But, for the time being, just make sure you take the time to go through various lkml threads.

You know C, and you have spent time monitoring the lkml. What's next? Find a need. There is always something that needs to be done. Do not decide to go too big too soon. That can derail your journey and lead to frustration. Instead, start small and build on it. For instance, there always seems to be the need for more testers in the kernel arena. Thus, put on your quality assurance hat and get to work. This is one of the best ways to get your feet wet.

Perhaps you have advanced to the point where you have written a patch for the kernel, but you are still apprehensive about submitting it to the community. One avenue you can take is addressing your concerns on another very helpful mailing list. It is the kernel mentors list (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.). Over the course of time, this list has provided very useful tips to individuals new to the kernel world. And, your question will more than likely be answered by a notable kernel developer. I have seen this time and time again. And, it is great to see that they are willing to take time out of their hectic schedule to address developers concerns. Therefore, I would make sure that you use this resource.

As with many things in the open source community, there is always help around every corner. Make sure that you utilize all the resources at your disposal, and you will have an above average chance of succeeding in this environment. Even if you initially do not get the answer you are looking for, do not let that sidetrack your progress. As with many things in life, be persistent, and you should eventually get to the place you are looking for.

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July 28, 2015
by Brent Marinaccio

don't pretend skills Job descriptions can be very puzzling. Are they looking for strictly a developer, or do they want someone that can develop but also maintain their systems? Sometimes it can be very tricky to separate the wheat from the chaff. Corporations have their marketing and human resource teams come up with, what they deem to be, snazzy ways to attract top talent. Such terms as “rock star” and “guru” are a few that are frequently used. For some rhyme or reason, it is their belief this is an effective recruiting strategy. And, it may be. I do not have all the analytics to know one way or the other. But, at the end of the day, what is paramount is describing the type of person they are actually looking for. Preferably, without all the glitz and glamour that confuses potential candidates. The end result being they end up missing ones they are actually trying to attract. Even after being in the recruiting industry for nearly 20 years, more often than not, I have a handful of questions for corporations after reviewing a job description to try to pinpoint what they are really looking for.

The obvious question then becomes, how does a candidate know which positions are applicable to him/her? That is a very tough question to answer. Some descriptions can be a little clearer, thus easier to navigate, to determine if they are suitable. To those, I encourage candidates to submit their resume. On the other hand, as stated above, there are a large number that can be downright confusing. If one finds themselves in that predicament, I still encourage them to apply. If the corporation is inundated with a large number of resumes, perhaps it is their fault for not being more clear with their words. The downside is it is more likely your resume just gets lost in the shuffle with all the resumes they are receiving. Unfortunately, there is no way around this scenario. It is an adverse part of the process.

Even with many job descriptions being convoluted, do not try to pretend to be someone you are not. Many times, corporations appear to be looking for someone that has utilized every programming language known to man. It can be maddening. You are thinking to yourself, who has had time to perfect their skills with that many languages? As a result, I have had candidates ask me if they should just add a couple, given the fact they may have seven out of the ten requirements. I highly encourage you not to do this. Is it possible by doing so, you increase your chances of getting an interview? Probably. Is it possible you are able to get through the interview process and be offered the job without anyone picking up on your indiscretion? It is possible. But, at some point, more than likely someone in the engineering department is going to catch on. And, that can have a detrimental effect on your career. You have more than likely spent a lot of time getting to the point of your career where you are at. And, you do not want all that hard work to go to waste over adding a few buzzwords to attract a company's attention. Stay ethical, as hard as it may be at times, and your career will have a greater chance to flourish.

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April 28, 2015
by Brent Marinaccio

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hot linux jobs The world of open source software is an ever-changing landscape. What appears to be the next big thing may fall by the wayside by some new development tool. The pace is fast and furious, and it does not look like it is going to slow down any time soon. In order to position yourself to be successful in the open source software arena, you must stay on top of the trends. If you reach a plateau and fail to constantly evolve your skill set, you are at risk of being left behind.

How do you prevent yourself from falling behind? There are a number of ways to make sure you stay on top of the trends, and thus make yourself a viable candidate for open positions. First, make media (whether it be traditional or social) work for you. Follow certain Twitter feeds that will give you insight to market trends. Read articles from some of the leading open source software web sites. Put out alerts on Google or other search engines around topics that peak your interest. These are just a few of the measures you can take in this area. Luckily in the present, you can do all of this with very minimal effort.

However, you need to go beyond that to see how you stack up against your peers. Do searches in Github to find out where developers are spending their time relative to where you are spending yours. Is there more activity in another open source project than what you are working on? If so, would it make career sense to delve into that project? These are items you need to weigh in order to keep your skills relevant. Time permitting, attend meetup groups in your area that involve a topic of your liking. This will give you the ability to network and make sure the direction you are headed is one of possible prosperity. Even do periodic searches in some of the leading job web sites to see how the number of open positions that are available with your skill set compare to another area. Are your skills in high demand? This will help answer that question for you.

Much like many other facets of life, you are going to constantly be surrounded by competition. To make sure you come out on top, you must do your best to stay ahead of your peers. One way to do that is by making sure your passion meshes with opportunities being offered by companies that peak your interest. As I have mentioned countless times, the most successful engineers that I run into are the ones that are passionate about their craft. By the same token, their craft is also something that intrigues some of the leading corporations in the world.

January 27, 2015
by Brent Marinaccio

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hot linux jobsWe get asked about Linux certification frequently. Candidates generally want to know if it is worth their time and effort to pursue a certification. In my opinion, the answer changes on a case-by-case basis. Overall, the tendency of the answer is largely derived by experience. For individuals that are either early in their career or new to Linux, it is likely to be more beneficial to attain a recognized certification than to not have one. Without having prior professional experience to rely on, one can show their knowledge level with a certification in hand. This assists these individuals greatly in their search for new employment or advancement in their careers.

For individuals that do have prior professional experience, the benefits of a recognized certification dwindle based on the amount of experience an individual has. As I have always stated, any education is good education. Therefore, even if you are a very experienced administrator, it is not going to hurt you in either your current role or positioning yourself for future employment elsewhere. But, do not count on it being a difference maker for you, at least in comparison to individuals with less experience than you possess. Ultimately, if you are a person that is in a continuous quest for knowledge and feel a certification demonstrates that knowledge, by all means pursue it.

At this point, the obvious question becomes what certification is best for you to pursue. In a nutshell, it all depends. From our experience, this largely hinges on your location globally and becoming knowledgeable about your employment marketplace. For instance, for us here in the United States, Red Hat and Red Hat derived offshoots (CentOS among others) make the Red Hat program a viable one, due to their dominant position in the corporate install base. Perhaps in the European Union, Suse is more applicable, so you may want to lean in that direction. If you are interested in covering all of your bases, LPI offers something very intriguing. They have fostered partnerships with both CompTIA and Suse. Thus, as the old adage goes, “you can kill a couple of birds with one stone”, applies directly to pursuing this certification. They have been very wise to form these partnerships and provide strong competition to what has historically been a Red Hat driven marketplace.

All in all, Linux certification is an extremely viable and beneficial addition to ones knowledge base and resume. It is highly noticeable, and can only assist you in your career. Therefore, if you are at a point where you feel there is a need to provide a boost to your career possibilities, it very well might be worthwhile to pursue a certification in Linux.

* Due to the brevity of this article, I did not go into details on each of the leading certifications, with the exception of mentioning them. But, a simple search can provide you with all the specifics on each one, including cost, test format, etc.

October 28, 2014
by Brent Marinaccio

Do you desire a role where you can contribute code to an open source project as part of your daily responsibilities? During work hours and not in your spare time? It goes without saying that a lot of developers dream of such a scenario. These opportunities exist more and more each day. But, one must not assume they will be able to take part in such an activity based upon initial rhetoric. Instead, you must research a company to its core if you are presented with such a proposition.

Corporations love to provide “promises”. They even love it more when these “promises” are not in written form. It is easy for them to spew out grandiose plans on the ways in which they are going to utilize your talents. It is a natural way to recruit individuals, albeit, a borderline unethical one. This is no different in the world of open source software. There have been numerous instances where I have seen a candidate that has been “promised” to be able to either continue to work on open source software work that he/she has been doing, or get involved with open source development that the company is doing. Unfortunately, that is not the way it has turned out for some individuals. Luckily, it is a strong minority, but it is still a sliver of the pie.

Therefore, before you are on top of the world thinking you just landed the perfect position, please do some research. Even if you feel you are 100% sure that they are telling the truth, it does not hurt to dig a little deeper into the situation. One might say, “How do I do that?” There is no foolproof way to get complete accuracy, but there surely are some steps you can take. For instance, look into their contributions in the open source space. Are they really as active as they say they are? It is easy to find out that answer. Also, ask if they mind if you speak with some of the engineers on the team. Sometimes you are able to find out their involvement during the interview process, but it also not a bad idea to follow up with them outside of that regimented form.

It is an exciting time to be involved with open source software. Each and every day, more opportunities arise for engineers to make a name for themselves as a result of their contributions. Just make sure you do the necessary due diligence to be part of this growing crowd.

July issue of the IT Skills watch update is out and is revealing some interesting facts regarding the demand for programming skills, certifications and operating systems.

Sprinkling your professional resume with Redhat skills seems to be a great idea

high demand for redhat skills RedHat solidifies its position as the Linux operating system for the corporate deployments. The demand for Rehat skills and certifications is steadily increasing with every IT Skills Watch update. The deal to take CentOS under Redhat’s roof made earlier this year seems to be making CentOS also more appealing.

Last month Red Hat, Inc. also announced an expansion of its already ongoing partnership with SAP AG the German multinational software corporation that makes enterprise software to manage business operations and customer relations. For example, SAP HANA database was previously only supported on SUSE Linux. This deal was an excellent strategic step on Redhat’s part which will most likely further widen an already noticeable gap between these two open source rivals. Needless to say, having some sort of RedHat Certification today or in the future will definitely make anyone’s resume more attractive.

Development vs system administration

Are you a developer or system administrator? If you do not know the answer to this question yet, you are most likely on a good career path. The days that system administrators concentrated on system administration and developers concentrated on development are becoming forgotten. DevOps is the current trend of how things are done today. Demand for this methodology is expeditiously increasing. According to our Skills Watch update the demand for DevOps was increased by 43.46% in the past 3 months. Furthermore, another indication based on our Skills Watch update suggests that combination of system administration and Python programming skills is becoming a great combo to have on your CV. This notion had already been indicated by our previous Skills Watch updates and as a result the increasing demand for Python programming language is far from being stagnant.

Soaring Demand for Configuration Management ( CM ) skills

Increased virtualization is resulting in a growing demand for CM skills like Puppet or Chef. This trend is unlikely to stop in upcoming years. The demand for both skills Puppet and Chef had risen for about 30% in the last three months. If you do not know anything about puppet yet, is recommended to start with same basics today.

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July 29, 2014
by Brent Marinaccio

Should I get involved with open source software? Is it worth the time and effort to develop code for an open source software project in my spare time? These are just a few of the questions I hear from candidates on a daily basis. The people asking these questions must come to a conclusion on their own. I can only offer up my advice based on what I have seen happen to others in this field. In most cases, open source software involvement can have a meaningful impact on an individual's career. However, the ones that have gained the most, both personally and professionally, are the ones that have a genuine fondness for the open source software concept. Their passion leads to their success.

To help explain the possibilities that exist, I will provide a concise tale of ones success as a result of his engagement in open source software development. For the sake of this column, I will call him Adam. Adam was an application developer in the Midwest of the United States. He was in the midst of a nice career, but it was lacking fulfillment for him. In his spare time, he was the maintainer of a subsystem of the mainline Linux kernel. He started small, but was able to progress to this level through his dedication in his spare time. Since he did not have the ability to allot for much time in this endeavor, he was unsure if it would be enough to realize his goal of becoming a full-time kernel developer. Due to the high demand for individuals with this experience, I knew this would not be a problem for him. He has since gone on to expand his role in the Linux kernel community, all while doing this work on a full-time basis for one of the leading virtualization companies in the world.

Time and again, I have seen engineers that have decided to get involved with open source software transform their careers. The success stories are endless. And, they come from all parts of the world, from different age groups, and different genders. The beauty of open source software is that it does not discriminate. If your code is that good, there is no denying its entrance into the development cycle. Each individual controls their own destiny. If you have a desire to be a part of the open source software revolution, there is nothing that can hold you back.

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About Author

Brent Marinaccio helped found HotLinuxJobs back in 2000. HotLinuxJobs was the first recruiting firm specializing in the placement of Linux / Open Source professionals.

Brent Marinaccio from HotLinuxJobs talks about Linux recruitment

LinuxCareer.com asked Brent Marinaccio, the HotLinuxJobs Director, to express his opinion on the Linux recruitment market and to provide some hints on how to land a Linux Job:

Read more: HotLinuxJobs: The demand has always outstripped the supply for Linux professionals

In our last article, Recruiter's advice and tips: What is a behavioral interview?, we spoke about behavioral based questions in interviews. As already mentioned, we will now look at how to prepare for this kind of interview.

Think of six to eight examples of situations from your past experiences that demonstrate your skills and abilities. Make sure that at least half of your examples are positive (meeting deadlines, expectations and accomplishing goals). Try to take examples from various areas of your life, the rest can be scenarios that started negatively, but ended positively due to your due diligence.

Read more: Recruiter's advice and tips: How to prepare for behavior-based interviews?

I have been specializing in IT Recruitment for the past few years. It has been a very interesting and challenging journey, which allowed me to meet many professionals at various stages of their careers. In the past few years, I noticed that recruitment for IT professionals has changed. Our clients were no longer interested only in IT skills and the technical abilities of our candidates, but also their personalities and social skills (particularly for client facing positions).

This, I realized, presented a problem for some of my technically minded candidates. Although they fulfilled all the technical requirements and flew through the IT interview, they often failed the HR interview. From a personal point of view, this was very frustrating as many candidate and client efforts were wasted due to this fact.

Read more: Recruiter's advice and tips: What is a behavioral interview?

We have reopened the discussion about Unix to Linux migration with respect to careers of Unix and Linux professionals and its impact on organizations and the entire FOSS community. Kerry Kim, Director of Solutions Marketing for SUSE, has shared with us his insights regarding the continuing effort in migration from proprietary software.

Read more: Increasing interest in Linux technologies continues to drive Unix to Linux migration

SUSE’s global HR talks about employing Linux talent

LinuxCareer.com asked Marie Louise van Deutekom, the SUSE’s Global HR Director, to elaborate on the international recruitment process at SUSE. Marie Louise van Deutekom discussed with LinuxCareer.com topics relevant to SUSE’s search for Linux talent, interviewing process employed at SUSE and SUSE’s working environment. Marie Louise describes SUSE's business approach as follows:

As a company, we have a strong belief in Open Source as the model to develop good software. But it’s also important to effectively have a commercial model around it. We have an enterprise focus – we make a difference to the largest companies in this world. That matters to me.
Read more: An inside look at SUSE’s recruitment process

volunteer writing linux careerThe World Wide Web has become an extremely strong source of information. Job seekers search for jobs on online job boards, while recruiters search for potential employees by listing their Web profiles. Such head hunting is, in particular, common when looking for a Linux professional.

Numerous ways are available for an IT professional to establish their Web presence. One of them is writing about GNU/Linux or, in general, free or open source software. It is extremely beneficial for your IT career to publish on Linux related websites as a volunteer writer and, at the same time, enhance your Web presence. Jason Hibbets, a project manager at Red Hat and the lead administrator for opensource.com, in the interview for LinuxCareer.com underlines how opensource.com helps its authors in promotion of their articles, which, at the same time, promotes their name:

Before an article is published on the site, new volunteers work with our editors to finalize their article. After we collaborate on an article with our contributors, we optimize articles for search engine optimization (SEO) and then our team does a lot of work to promote the story after it's been published. (...) We try to do our part to make sure that the content we spend so much time creating with our volunteer writers gets promoted appropriately.
Read more: How writing about Linux boosts your IT career. Interview with Jason Hibbets, Red Hat

volunteer free software open source linux careerIf you are fresh out of uni with a degree in IT or even currently studying, it is the best time to become a free software or open source developer (F/OS) and gain Linux experience. In this article we will talk about what is a free software and open source software and what are the benefits of becoming a F/OS developer. Note however, that we are not taking sides and not saying what is better free software or open source software. We would like to simply underline the benefits coming from participation in such projects. We will also advice how to engage yourself in a F/OS project, what kind of projects are out there for you and what steps you need to take in order to become a F/OS developer. Besides the experience with Linux, you can gain experience in variety of programming languages. Check out our Linux skills on demand as a guide to what kind of IT skills are currently required by employers and, therefore, what you should study to have a best chance to succeed in your career.

Read more: Start your Linux career by becoming a free software or open source developer

Although it’s hard to pre-empt what you’ll be asked in an interview, most interview panels dedicate a portion of the questions in order to better understand facets of your character, your general skills and your ability to work with other people. Below is a sample of such questions with some thoughts to consider as you formulate your responses.job interview questions

Tell us a bit about yourself. The interviewer isn’t seeking a life story here. Try to be positive, specific and stick to information about you that’s relevant to the job or the company’s goals.

What do you know about our company? This is your opportunity to show your initiative and establish your enthusiasm for both the job and the company for which you want to work. You can share what you’ve researched about the organisation and talk meaningfully about why you think you would be a good addition to the team.

Read more: Standard Job Interview Questions to Expect

When setting out to write your resume, it’s always tricky to decide what information to ensure your resume is highly relevant to the job you’re applying for. Another factor to consider is the best way to present your information on your resume. After all, it’s your personalbest format for it resume marketing tool and it’s important that it’s an attractive document to the reader and can set your application in the best possible light for the IT or Linux job for which you’re applying.

According to research, a recruiter or employer will spend approximately 20 seconds scanning your resume for incentive to further investigate your fitness for their IT employment prospects. Your resume therefore needs to be formatted in a way that clearly conveys the essential criteria for the IT positions you’re applying for in unambiguous terms.

Read more: Which resume formats are effective for IT jobs and why

Your resume is your opportunity to market yourself as a commodity to a recruiter or perspective employer, so it’s important that it represents you in such a way that the reader is intrigued and wants to invite you for an interview. A recruiter may receive hundreds of applicants for an IT job they are trying to fill and research shows that sometimes only one out of 200 applicants is short listed for an interview. Employers scan a potential resume or CV in about 20 seconds before they make the toss or decide to short list. This article gives you tips and pointers about making your resume a keeper.

No two resumes will ever be the same, and your resume should be as unique as you are as an individual, so it’s probably not wise to apply a cookie cutter approach to drafting your resume. That being said, there are some key factors you should keep in mind when drafting your resume to ensure it stands out in the crowd.

Read more: What makes your IT resume stand out in the crowd?

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