The Benefits of Distribution-Flexible Linux Training

As someone who started using Red Hat Linux back in 1997, and then worked for Red Hat for six years, helping to deploy and support Red Hat Enterprise Linux on thousands of high-end servers for Wall Street investment banks, I often get questions when students find out that one of my laptops runs Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, Canonical’s enterprise Linux distribution. Likewise, the fact that I run OpenSUSE on my server seems to raise questions about where my preferences lie in the Linux ecosystem.

If I’ve always been associated with Red Hat, why wouldn’t I just stick with their products? The answer that I give is that being familiar with a variety of distributions allows for greater flexibility.

This is why the Linux Foundation’s courses are built to be distribution flexible, allowing companies or students to use any of the big three distribution families: Red Hat / Fedora, Ubuntu / Debian, SUSE / OpenSUSE.

And this flexibility provides several benefits.

If your company runs one of these Linux distributions and needs an instructor who can speak deeply on it, we have a Linux expert who knows your distribution well and is comfortable using it as the basis for any corporate Linux training.

The benefit that companies often overlook is that it turns out that the world in which they operate may not be as standardized as they think. While it’s common for most Fortune 500 companies to rely on a dominant Linux distribution (usually Red Hat Enterprise Linux or SUSE Linux Enterprise Server), an increasing number will also require other distributions for things like public cloud deployments (where Ubuntu currently outnumbers other distributions), or the ability to experiment with different technology stacks, or to build custom, self-supported setups.

In all cases, IT departments can benefit from skills that go beyond the simple understanding of a toolset that a specific Linux distribution ships, and into a deeper understanding of Linux and the Linux community.

For our open enrollment students who take our online Linux training or Linux classroom training, our goal is to help them, first and foremost, to become Linux professionals, rather than focusing on how to use one particular set of tools. And what we’ve found is that when students bring their experience with different distros to our training courses, it results in a richer training experience, as a wide variety of ideas and best practices are openly shared and discussed.

At the Linux Foundation, we believe that the Linux professional of tomorrow can differentiate themselves in the marketplace by:

  • Having an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses that specific tools bring, allowing them to provide insight on which tool is best based on the situation
  • Having the ability to leverage command-line based interfaces to analyze and troubleshoot problems common to all distributions

Providing distribution flexible training allows us to help companies who want training on a specific distribution, while also helping tomorrow’s Linux system administrators, developers and architects get the depth of skills they need to become true Linux professionals.