a file on changing the OS of instruction at the ngNOG workshops

the following is an email in a thread at http://abuja.forum.org.ng/mailman/private/ngnog-discuss/2010-April/002212.html about changing the OS of instruction at a national Unix network training workshop. as usual, people have talked and talked about making a change without preparing a roadmap. in the attached email, i make some suggestions
but i don’t think i got a response from the proponents of the change.

— On Mon, 4/5/10, &#39;Dewole Ajao <dewole10@yahoo.com> wrote:

From: ‘Dewole Ajao <dewole10@yahoo.com>
Subject: Re: [NgNOG-discuss] OS for NGNOG workshops
To: “Data Communications and Infrastructure SIG” <ngnog-discuss@abuja.forum.org.ng>, gogwim@unijos.edu.ng
Cc: kodion@gmail.com
Date: Monday, April 5, 2010, 10:21 AM

Happy Easter, folks!

Let’s not miss the point, please. The main reason why the quality of ‘techies’ we have around these days keeps dropping is because people don’t want to take time to learn the basics. (yeah, instant gratification is the norm)

If a *nix newbie can purge his/her mind of the assumption that he/she is a guru and just try to understand a few key things, life will be a lot easier for us all.
* filesystem types
* working within a shell (sh, csh, bash etc)
* package management (installation, removal, upgrade) options
* control options for daemons (and tools)

there’s very little evidence to prove that the use of one OS over the other will make everyone happy or better.

If today the OS of instruction is changed to “RedHat”, someone is going to prefer RHEL because that’s what his company pays for; another will prefer CentOS because it’s free; another will say Fedora Core because they have a server installed in their data center. Not to mention the Ubuntu, SUSE and other prophets who’ll also come screaming with statistics of how this or that is the most popular and is going to rule the world.

AFAIK, we go to these workshops every year to learn how to be better network operators using a handful of applications whose configuration files hardly differ across operating systems so what’s the problem? Like I stated above, all you need do is start by learning a couple of commands that would help you navigate the file system, pick up sytem documentation for you preferred OS so you know the easiest way to manage packages on it, and learn how to control the installed services.

If you’re coming to the workshops to learn how to be a desktop *nix user, for now you might be out of luck there especially if you’re coming to the Internet Services track; I remember also that the Infrastructure track is OS-agnostic and even used M$ one year. However, if it is the desire of the community to change the Sys Admin track into a desktop Linux track then it should be put to a vote and work should start on drawing up the new curriculum.

Two votes, in fact; one vote to start a desktop Linux track and another vote for what to use as OS of instruction. To do it right, the votes for OS of instruction should be accompanied by a few paragraphs introducing the OS and why it would be better for instruction. A committee should evaluate these entries to identify valid points and then compare the valid points of each OS before presenting the most popular (based on reasonable arguments) to the community. Resources for drawing up the new curriculum will most likely be provided by the proponents of the change :-) and as November is just around the corner, the earliest this will happen is 2011 unless some of us take up full time employment with ngNOG. After a particular OS is chosen, that OS must run a term spanning a certain number of years before another vote is held 😀 I will however advise that we maintain the practice of teaching basics which are universal across operating systems so we don’t end up with yet another generation of copy-and-paste-point-and-click-only techies who are helpless if you so much as change the theme of the OS or programming IDE they are familiar with.

Just to point out something… In this day and age, your administrative skills (can you do shell control or do you need GUI?), user environment (what do your users really need?) and budget (how much are the bosses willing to pay for that cool feature?) usually determines the applications you use; whatever application you choose should then run on whatever OS platform the developers say is best for it (unless you’re a masochist and just like to do things the hard way).

Ask me what my favorite OS is and I’ll tell you it depends on what I’m doing. I could favour a SysV-based OS (RHEL, FC, CEnt) if it installs the service I want right out of the box (and because I started out using Redhat); I could favour FreeBSD if I think I need more security or ports installation of dependencies is going to save me time; and of course you’re going to have to try veeeery hard to convert me from my Windows XP PC which I use to SSH into a myriad of servers.


--  Dewole Ajao ICT Consultant Tinitop Technologies Ltd Blog: http://dewole10.tinitop.com Featured: http://www.tinitext.com

One thought on “a file on changing the OS of instruction at the ngNOG workshops”

  1. No comments? Maybe because you got it wrong from the beginning. I was following this thread too and believe the choice of OS was really in relation to the Sysadmin Track – E0. The point of the track in question is to introduce folks who might have some experience in using Microsoft Windows OS’s but for all purposes are absolute beginners to the world of UNIX

    The contention was that Linux was more suitable than FreeBSD in this regard and a few reasons why this was the case was forwarded including the prevalence of Linux in the target population, similarity of platforms for the purpose in question and ease of use which is a significant factor in getting beginners to practice what they learn in these 4-day workshops.

    Your suggestions did not contend with these but implied what these reasons were incorrectly and proceeded to provide alternatives to your deductions

    I do not know why your e-mail got no responses from the others but I felt that you exhibited a bit of techie arrogance in the general tone of your e-mail and refused to engage on that basis.

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