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What advice would you offer on Linux for newbies?

I am just starting out with Linux and hoping to get a job working with it in the near future. What should I do now to get ahead?

Linux talent is in high demand, and those with the proper Linux skills and certifications are more likely to land a coveted sys admin job. Newcomers interested in the field should take steps to prepare for their first Linux job.

To get comfortable with Linux, "grab a desktop and just use it," said Jack Wallen, a Linux expert and avid promoter and user of the OS. Install it on a desktop and learn the command line, he said, noting CentOS and OpenSUSE as good distributions for those new to Linux.

If you want to use Linux for professional purposes, use one of the distributions that focuses on the corporate market, said Sander van Vugt, an independent technology trainer and consultant. SUSE or Red Hat are the most common.

Next, to prepare for a job in IT, you need to learn how to work with directories and networking, and dig into the server distributions, Wallen said.

Home users who want to play media files easily should work with documents and browse the Web, van Vugt said. Ubuntu and Linux Mint are good options.

Troubleshooting is a good way to become familiar with the kernel. Wallen, a Linux user since about 1996, said he has never had a problem that couldn't be fixed within a few minutes.

For almost everything you do, there is a Linux application for it, Wallen said, adding that Linux has evolved faster than any other platform in the market.

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