A Linux consultant is a server computing specialist responsible for installing, configuring, maintaining, supporting, and securing systems and applications across Linux-based infrastructure. Linux is a low-cost open source operating system that is supported on many computer platforms. It is a popular OS for web servers and embedded systems.
This popularity stems from certain advantages, including security, stability, flexibility, backward compatibility, and its open source nature. Technology powers productivity and business growth. And a considerable percentage of today’s technology runs on Linux.
This is why Linux experts who have the expertise to enable organizations to optimize performance of Linux systems, streamline operations, and achieve business goals are in high demand. They can help businesses reduce costs and improve output.
Linux consultants usually work for midsize and large organizations or consulting firms. They help clients and employers keep their Linux systems stable, safe, and efficient, as well as scale business operations, enhance productivity and grow their businesses. Their functions range from system design and architecture to installation, maintenance, migrations, security reviews and incident response, analysis, virtualization, and troubleshooting.
Depending on the role and type of organization, a Linux consultant’s responsibilities may include all or some of the following:
Setting up and maintaining Linux systems — This could include installing, configuring, and managing infrastructure, operating systems, applications and services on Linux servers.
Understanding client requirements —This might include meeting with clients to understand their business objectives and processes and identify their system requirements.
Interacting and working with internal technical and non-technical teams — This could include communicating and collaborating with users, tech support and operations personnel, network engineers, software developers, and technical leaders. The point of these interactions could range from understanding system, software, and hardware requirements and issues, to devising practical solutions and implementing security devices.
Evaluating and enhancing existing systems — This could include assessing systems and recommending upgrades and modifications to enhance overall performance of systems.
Handling updates, upgrades and backups — This might range from applying routine OS and software patches and upgrades to managing server backups
Troubleshooting and debugging — This includes troubleshooting to solve network, system, and server issues, as well as debugging to identify and resolve errors in order to prevent defects and faulty functioning of the OS or software packages.
Monitoring system performance — This includes performing technical evaluations and analysis, and using appropriate monitoring systems and tools to identify and rectify flaws, thereby helping to prevent system downtime and crashes.
Maintaining system and application security — This includes ensuring adherence to security policies, performing security audits, applying patches, managing incidents, and examining trends and patterns.
Designing and developing OS configurations for applications and software products — This includes collaborating with software developers to configure operating systems to suit business operations and goals.
Process automation — This includes scripting in Python, Shell, or other relevant languages in order to automate system administration tasks and installation processes for migration.
Training — This includes training technical personnel who work on the system and guiding end users in accessible, non-technical language if required.
Keeping pace with changes
Linux consultants need to continue learning in order to update their knowledge of relevant technologies, tools and trends. It’s crucial to stay abreast of the latest developments in database management and web server administration, as well as continue to update one’s skills.
Linux consultants need to understand the fundamentals of security in order to be able to discern potential risks and protect systems. This is why it is necessary to keep track of the latest cybersecurity threats, SIEM systems, and incident management solutions.
One must also be aware of the latest change management processes and solutions.
Linux consultants can update their knowledge and skills by taking online courses, earning relevant certifications, joining discussions on Linux forums and Linux user groups, and reading leading Linux blogs and magazines.
Training and employment background
Most employers require a bachelor’s or master’s degree in computer science, information technology, electrical engineering or related fields. Linux consultants generally need at least five years of professional experience managing Linux systems. Many employers require eight to 10 years of experience.
The role requires in-depth knowledge of Linux operating systems and services, including awareness of the many different versions, or distros, of Linux. A qualified consultant should be able to handle any Linux system. Knowledge of programming languages (such as Python) and scripting languages (such as Ruby or Perl) is also vital. Other languages that Linux specialists work with include BASH and Java.
Most employers would likely want to know how many Linux systems you have deployed at the enterprise level to assess the extent of your experience and whether you have managed Linux systems and services in distributed and virtualized data centers. Linux specialists with skills in Kubernetes, container technology, and automation are in demand.
A Linux consultant needs to understand how software development works in order to be able to understand whether any given program will function properly and is free from vulnerabilities that could cause a system breach if installed.
Linux consultants must have good communication and presentation skills. They are required to communicate with various stakeholders in order to convey information about implementation of new processes and tools, explain best use procedures, and understand user needs and problems.
Relevant industry certifications are required by some employers, particularly if they are looking to hire specialists with tested knowledge and skills in managing specific Linux platforms and technologies.
Some of the most in-demand Linux certifications include:
Linux Professional Institute LPIC-3
The Linux Professional Institute is a nonprofit that aims to define global standards in vendor-neutral certifications for Linux and BSD operating systems.
The LPIC-3 credential is the top-tier certification in LPI’s professional certification program. It is available in four tracks – mixed environments, security, virtualization and containerization, and high availability and storage clusters.
LPIC-3 is designed for experienced Linux specialists who have a valid LPIC-2 certification. To earn the LPIC-3 certification in one of the four specialties, you need to pass a 90-minute multiple-choice and fill-in-the-blank exam for that particular specialty.
The LPIC-3 Mixed Environments credential is especially suitable for consultants who wish to develop advanced skills in managing Linux systems at enterprise scale in mixed environments. LPIC-3 is valid for five years.
Additional information is available online.
Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
The RHCE credential validates knowledge and skills in automation of Red Hat Enterprise Linux processes, integrating Red Hat emerging technologies, and implementing automation to optimize performance and drive innovation.
To earn the RHCE, you need a Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) certification and to pass the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) exam (EX300). Candidates are offered the option of taking Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 or Red Hat Enterprise Linux 8.
Additional information is available online.
There are many other well-known and professionally viable certifications available from CompTIA, IBM, Oracle, the Linux Foundation, and SANS GIAC.