January 21, 2003

Intensive BSD sysadmin training is available, but no certs

- by Tina Gasperson -
If you're interested in learning more about the "other" Free Operating System,
BSD, you can get training at a relatively low cost. You just might have to
travel thousands of miles to get to it.The former editor of BSDToday is still heavily involved in BSD advocacy and
education. Jeremy C. Reed runs Puget Sound Technology in Marysville, Washington.
It's an open source shop that does consulting and outsourced administration
services for businesses across the Pacific northwest.

Reed offers frequent workshops, seminars, and classes in BSD and Linux. The
workshops run three hours and are $35. Coming up March 4-6, Reed is conducting a
system administration course based on NetBSD. It's a hands on class that focuses
on basics like installation, system services and user administration, as well as
other essentials skills like customizing the kernel and network administration.
The class is three full days of hands-on instruction at a cost of $1,170.
According to Reed, the course will also cover "important Unix security
concepts including basic system hardening and auditing techniques, file
integrity checking, and how to clean up unneeded services and secure required
services."

Reed says that response to the steady stream of classes is regrettably slow.
"Sometimes the response has been OK, but usually there is very little," he says.
The problem is a lack of knowledge about Open Source. "I've had good response
for a Samba workshop, and some Apache workshops - I don't think [BSD] gets
enough attention, mostly because big companies don't publically announce that
they support it and because there is very little commercial backing of the BSD
operating systems."

Not only is there not enough enterprise attention paid to BSD, but there is not
one certification program directed at BSD experts. Reed says the main reason is
that nobody has put forth the effort it takes to make a certification program
happen. "I made several contacts with Sylvan Prometric, CAT, and VUE," says
Reed. "It is expensive: for example, to break even with one company, they would
have to sell 50 tests at $100 per month just to break even."

Chris Coleman, one of the founders of DaemonNews.org, wrote about the lack of
certification in the BSD world back in May 2002. He listed that as one of the
elements missing in BSD's quest to be fully ready for enterprise computing,
along with marketing, support contracts, training, pre-installed systems,
documentation, a "print magazine," and reseller channels.

Reed is certainly doing his part to contribute to the availability of training,
but at this point it feels like a drop in the (empty) bucket. Reed doesn't seem
to mind the plink, plink, plink sound. "As far as I know, nobody in our county
does Linux or open source training (other than community colleges). In the state
of Washington, there are probably less than three companies offering Linux
classes. As far as I know: there are no companies providing BSD training in
Washington state. And only a couple companies or individuals anywhere for BSD."

This week, Reed is presenting sysadmin training on FreeBSD, a strong OS for networking, and
Reed says he wants to continue adding more training, not only for BSD but for Apache and Linux. "Puget Sound technology is
hoping to offer open source
training in Phoenix (Arizona)
every couple months," he says.

Reed says Puget Sound is about to release its own Linux distribution. The beta is already in use, and Reed says he has been in talks with some hardware manufacturers to provide the
distro pre-installed, similar to computers sold by Wal-Mart that come pre-loaded with Lindows or Mandrake Linux.

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