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What Now?


Have you noticed anything? Probably not. If you've gone through all the guide pages your old system is probably performing the same as it did right after you finished the installation (except for starting more daemons at bootup). The difference is that now it's acting like 10 different servers simultaneously. Granted it's not under much of load but try installing 10 different Microsoft server apps on an old Windows server and see how it acts - if it acts at all. One thing you should have noticed though, is that since following along configuring your own system you're probably pretty comfortable operating at that same shell prompt that likely puzzled you when you first started. By now you should have a pretty good feel for some of the things Linux can do. So what do you do next?
  • PLAY AROUND!
  • Read books
  • Take (Linux or UNIX) classes
  • Browse all the applications and utilities available to you using dselect (as covered on the Packages page)
  • Install and run modconf and check out all the kernel modules drivers available for hardware devices you can play around with
  • Use the HOWTOs and other instructional resources available on the Web (see the Resources page)
  • Use the man pages when trying out different commands or utilities (not everything you install will have a man page but most will)
There are many more aspects of Linux that we have not addressed on these pages. We've only scratched the surface when it comes to commands. (O'Reilly has an on-line Linux command reference listing 379 of them.) File/directory permissions, user account administration, and a lot of other "basic" things are yet to be explored. We didn't cover shell scripting much which is where the real power of Linux/UNIX lies. If you want to learn more about scripting and the automation aspects of Linux, pick up a copy of Linux Server Hacks for starters, and then graduate to the mother of all references, O'Reilly's 53-chapter, 1,200-page Unix Power Tools.

If your goal is to set up a real (production) server, you'll want to start over reinstalling the OS from scratch. This is especially true for any server that will be connected to the Internet. The Maximum Linux Security book featured on this site (see the Books page) has a chapter devoted to partitioning hard-drives and partitioning considerations related to installation and security.

Once you've got a little more knowledge (particularly in the way of file permissions and security) try getting some "real world" experience with Linux. Volunteer to set up a server (Samba or Web server for example) at a local non-profit agency, church, or club. These types of operations typically don't have the money for high-powered hardware and expensive commercial server software (not to mention paying high-priced consultants to set it all up). It's a win-win situation. You get some valuable experience and they get a powerful network with a minimal investment in used hardware.

If you're a network or systems administrator stuck in a Windows and/or Novell environment with no opportunity to use Linux, come up with a way to use Linux for network monitoring and security testing. We mentioned how to do this back on the Linux Basics page.

You can set up quite a home network to play around on for very little investment by buying used hardware. Our home network was used in preparing the guide pages and most of it was gotten off of sites like eBay.

Home Network

Here are some of the prices we paid for the above:


The KVM didn't include the cable sets (one needed for each PC) but provantage.com has them for around $10. That's over $110 for the KVM setup but that's a lot cheaper than buying three additional monitors. Some KVMs only support PS/2 connections so if you have an older Pentium or 486 system, be sure to get a KVM that supports the larger DIN keyboard and serial mouse connections as well as PS/2. The cable kits with these older types of connectors are referred to as "AT" cable kits.

Since most of the above equipment was gotten quite awhile back you could probably get similar items even cheaper now. You can get Solaris 8 for x86 UNIX directly from Sun Microsystem's Web site for around $45. See our Trying Sun Solaris page for more information.

Get clone PCs whenever possible. Name brand systems typically integrate a lot of things like video, sound, and a NIC into the motherboard. These integrated components often use drivers that can only be obtained from the motherboard manufacturer and they may not support Linux. Note that it's not easy to find clone systems on eBay. You have to wade through tons of postings for name-brand systems. However, since the less-enlightened prefer name-brand systems, your searching will often pay off in the way of a good price. When looking at the specs, look for systems that list a separate video card. This indicates a system that doesn't have everything but the kitchen sink integrated into the motherboard.

Get Certified

Once you've played around with Debian some you may want to pursue a Linux certification. This will not only enhance your credentials but preparing for a certification exam will help you learn more about the Linux operating system. The CompTIA folks have a Linux+ certification that is non-specific to any one distribution.



The best of our bookshelves:

Linux+ Exam Cram
More info...
    We passed the Linux+ exam with an 825 (out of 900) using only the Linux+ Exam Cram for preparation (along with getting on a system and trying the commands as they were covered in the book). This book adequately covers the material which is addressed by the questions on the exam. If you followed along with the guide pages on this site you'll find that most of the material covered in the first half of the book will be things you already know. It does a good job of covering the A+-type hardware questions that are found on the Linux+ exam as well.
This book is now out of print and used copies are hard to find so you'll need to search for other Linux+ titles.



Promote Debian

Last, but not least, promote Debian !  Linux was founded on the concept of non-commercial free software and Debian is the only major distribution that adheres to this. The corps of volunteer C programmers who make Debian possible deserve our support. If you're an accomplished C programmer, consider volunteering to work on the Debian Project. If not, even something as simple as putting a Debian link graphic on your Web page or wearing a T-shirt will help (not to mention that Debian's undeserved reputation as being only for Linux gurus will have you being held in awe by friends and family ;^) ).

Onward and upward !
Keith Parkansky, CCDA CCNA CNA MCP Linux+ Security+





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