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Poof! You're also a Linux administrator. Now what?

Linux has crept into data centers where Windows was once the sole operating system. If you're a budding Linux admin, here's a guide to help get you started.

Where there was once a chill in the data center, there is a slight thaw in the air, as more organizations have begun to embrace Linux in previously Windows-only environments.

Running Linux in the enterprise often meant little more than an experiment that was sequestered in a lab environment, far away from the production side. But this former interloper is now inching across networks, as it has matured and has become more accepted due to its prominence in established cloud platforms and emerging container technologies. Even Microsoft has dropped its campaign against the open source operating system and has gone so far as to develop its own version of Linux to run part of the Azure cloud platform.

As paradigms continue to change in the tech world, the Windows administrators also must evolve and accept the growing presence of Linux servers in their environment. This guide, consisting of information about various distributions and how to manage them, can help get sys admins get on the fast track to learning how to be a Linux administrator.

The basics behind Linux distributions

When starting with Linux, you'll need a basic understanding of the operating system starting with the terminology. There are a number of different versions of Linux called distributions. Despite all these permutations, many of these distributions have the same common foundation and won't require extra expertise to administer them.

Basic commands for handling services

Our expert says the first task for a new Linux administrator is to see what processes are running on the server by running the ps command from the root shell. There are ways to show whether a specific process is running and, if it isn't, how to get it started manually.

How to halt a service

When the inevitable happens, and a service teeters on the edge of productivity, then it's time for the administrator to step in to terminate the service as gracefully as possible. Learn the many levels available to shut down a service with the kill command.

Selecting the right Linux distribution

After building familiarity with Linux, you may find that the existing distribution may not be the best fit for your company. Depending on the version, there may be a short maintenance period that could leave the server vulnerable when a security hole has been discovered, but no patch is in the offing. If timely support is necessary, then it may be time to step up to a different distribution. This tip details a few of the more popular enterprise Linux distributions.

Bridging the gap with System Center

It takes a little bit of doing, but Windows administrators can use the familiar backdrop of Systems Center Operations Manager to monitor the Linux servers. With some PowerShell expertise, the sys admin can put together scripts that perform tasks such as performance collection and monitoring.

Working with Linux VMs under Hyper-V

Microsoft's hypervisor has support for Linux VMs, but getting these workloads to perform at their utmost might require some adjustments. This tip explains some of the potential dynamic memory issues that will require some attention to ensure VMs aren't starved of the memory they require.

Next Steps

How to choose the best OS for your environment

Tips to keep in mind when looking for an administrator position

How the future of Windows Server is shaping up

SQL Server on Linux demonstrates that Microsoft's development landscape is changing

This was last published in October 2015

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What have been some of your challenges as a newly minted Linux administrator?
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Lets get real,

Linux supplanted Unix.  "Windows only" has never existed in the datacenter.

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