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The People Who Support Linux: Systems Engineer Teaching Himself Python

Renault EllisSystems engineer Renault Ellis started using Linux five years ago when he was enrolled in a security and forensics program. He was studying IP tables and read the C Programming Language manual by Ken Thompson and Dennis Ritchie along with Cliff Stoll’s The Cuckoo’s Egg.

“I was hooked,” Ellis said via email. “I knew then I wanted to be a Linux Engineer.”

Ellis is now a Senior Linux and Unix Engineer at electronics distributor Premier Farnell in Chicago, Illinois, where he creates, tests and deploys scripts in an eCommerce environment. He works with Apache and several different monitoring tools, both open source and commercial, and leads a lot of the DR (disaster recovery) and PCI (payment card industry) processes in their Unix environment.

He uses Linux for everything, he says, including middleware architecture, web development and support, virtualization, cloud support and security technologies. He also attends several Linux user group meetings and teaches classes demonstrating Linux processes that perform the same tasks that any Windows admin may use.

Adding to his open source bona fides, Ellis says he also met Richard Stallman two years ago.

“It was a humbling experience,” he said.

Learning Python

Lately Ellis has been teaching himself Python to automate Linux tasks and system processes. For this he's turned to reading books and searching for information on Google and YouTube, attending Python and Unix user groups, and taking a free class on Cousera.org. He aims to develop and automate efficient tools for monitoring, logging and gathering system performance statistics, which he can use to create daily page views for his teams.

The extra effort has already paid off, he says. He's created and improved on some scripts to look at logs for errors in certain applications that they use. He's also written scripts to test and record his configuration and deployment processes.

“My next step is to use tools to help get students and hobbyists I am involved with to learn Linux|Unix,” he said. “Plus pick up a good programming language.”

Ellis also recently joined The Linux Foundation as a new individual member.

“I wanted to support the foundation,” he said. “It has truly been good to me.”

Learn more about becoming an individual member of The Linux Foundation. The foundation will donate $25 to Code.org for every new individual member who joins during June.

 

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