March 21, 2001

Ex-Linuxgruven employees start new company

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
LinuxIsland is a new Linux services company in Chicago, Illinois, that provides certified network administrators and engineers to support businesses migrating to Linux IT. The outfit also provides training classes for SAIR LCA hopefuls. And yes, the CEO and the president are former employees of Linuxgruven. But, they say, they want everyone to know that LinuxIsland is a completely above-board operation.
Ted Petersen used to be the regional director of sales for Linuxgruven. "They fired me in January of 2001," because Linuxgruven was having trouble making payroll even back then, he says. He's partnering with another former Linuxgruven staffer, LinuxIsland president Robb Walther, who was the office manager for LG's Chicago location. Walther walked away from Linuxgruven, seeing the writing on the wall when Petersen got the ax.

They decided to start LinuxIsland because of their belief that, despite Linuxgruven's problems, "there's such a huge need for service and support here. IBM just put $1.3 billion into Linux development, and that says a great deal about the availability of work." Together, they have a staff of seven, and have contracts with six clients, all in the Chicago area. "We're going to stay local and not go nationwide," says Petersen.

But according to the LinuxIsland CEO, demand for LCAs in his neck of the woods is outpacing the manpower available. That's why LinuxIsland sees a market for the training course as well. "With the contracts we've got," he says, "we'll need at least 75 LCAs just to complete them. I can pick up maybe 12 to 18 (LCAs) from Linuxgruven, but that's about it for Chicago."

SAIR, a company that provides testing and certification for those interested in becoming an LCA (Sair Linux and GNU Certified Administrator) has listed LinuxIsland as an Accredited Center for Education (ACE). A spokeperson for SAIR confirmed that LinuxIsland is in good standing with SAIR, that as far as SAIR knows, LinuxIsland is not affiliated with Linuxgruven, and that its training classes are recommended by the organization.

Petersen pointed out that LinuxIsland's training classes are not a requirement for employment at LinuxIsland. While Linuxgruven did state on its Web site that its training course was not mandatory, several ex-students maintain that phone salespeople told them it was. "We'll take any LCA. Nobody is required to take our training [as condition for hiring]," says Petersen. Prospective staffers still must pass a comprehensive, hands-on evaluation of their skills before LinuxIsland will hire them. "We just want to check their abilities."

Those who decide to take the training class will find that all course materials are straight from SAIR, unlike Linuxgruven's staff-created course. "We have 120-plus hours of training, including two 12-hour labs. In fact, we're the longest LCA course in the nation." Not only that, but LinuxIsland is hoping to give jobs to some of the Linuxgruven castoffs. "We're trying to help them out," says Petersen. They're looking to fill several positions within the company. Slots remain open for the LCAs mentioned above, a database manager, and a chief financial officer.

There have been rumors that LinuxIsland has less than noble intentions, and is simply a reincarnation of Linuxgruven. Petersen and Walther aren't pulling any punches with those who are posting those rumors in public message boards. There's already been an incident in which a former Linuxgruven student was asked to withdraw what Petersen called false statements about LinuxIsland. "We gave him the chance to retract his statements before we brought our attorney in. He did, and we're no longer proceeding with legal action," says Petersen.

Former Linuxgruven CEO Matthew Porter, rumored to have left Linuxgruven to start a new company, is in no way involved with LinuxIsland, Petersen added.

LinuxIsland guarantees a six-month internship to those who go through the training and pass the LCA certification exams. In addition, LinuxIsland provides interns with six months of SAIR-approved SAIR Linux and GNU Certified Engineer (LCE) training, at no cost. All interns are in the running for possible fulltime employment.

LinuxIsland's training course costs $2,995. Classes begin April 2 at the company's center, located at 477 Butterfield Rd. STE 307, Lombard, IL. The phone number is 630-724-9210, and the contact email is babgerob@hotmail.com.

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