This month marks my two-year anniversary of working for the Linux Foundation as the digital content editor for Linux.com. It's been an amazing two years and I've learned a lot about Linux and the open source community. But I still have a long way to go, especially in my technical know-how.
I'm continually amazed by the depth of knowledge and skill of the people I meet at Linux Foundation events – not to mention the talented professionals I work with here on staff. They've inspired me to learn more and this year I resolved to take some formal training, starting with our Intro to Linux online course earlier this year.
Now offered for free as a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), Intro to Linux is aimed at enterprise users and covers everything from Linux philosophy and history to the boot process, command-line operations and networking. In the class I took, my fellow trainees ranged in skills and experience from total Linux beginners who were interested in starting IT careers to seasoned systems managers who were switching from Windows to Linux.
My goal was to gain a deeper understanding of the operating system, demystify the command line and maybe find some new ways of using the software that I hadn't thought of before.
I'll admit it was an intense class. The instructor covered a lot of ground at a fairly rapid pace, but I never felt overwhelmed. He regaled us with fun and interesting tidbits of Linux trivia as well as useful tips, such as why you should be very careful not to accidentally add a space after the / when you use rm -rf to remove a directory (it will erase everything and the system will crash.)
The benefit of training was immediate for me. I learned many practical skills including how to navigate the filesystem, manage users and permissions, package and compress files, and even write a basic shell script. But even more important to me was coming away with a sense of how I might better optimize my setup for both work and home life, with more practice and experience.
I've begun to prefer using the command line for simple things like installing applications and reading files. And I find myself daydreaming of setting up my own home network and web server. Or more simply, searching my files for specific snippets of text. (I'm an editor, after all!)
The class also gave me an appreciation for the differences and similarities between distributions. Our instructor moved seamlessly between OpenSUSE, CentOS and Ubuntu and demonstrated how to accomplish many of the tasks in all three distros.
I'd highly recommend taking the introductory course to anyone, hobbyist or professional, who wants to quickly gain a more technical understanding of Linux and become more adept at using the command line. And with the Linux Foundation's recently announced partnership with edX, everyone has free access to the course and training materials through the MOOC. There's no excuse not to try it!
Now that I've finished the class (and proudly printed my certificate of completion) I find myself asking: “what will I do next?” The possibilities are endless.
For answers to your quesitons on the free Intro to Linux course from edX, see the summary of our recent Twitter chat with Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin and edX CEO and MIT professor Anant Agarwal.