1. What are the duties of a Systems Administrator?
The duties of a systems administrator (sysadmin) can vary quite broadly depending on the size of the organization. For instance, in a small organization, the duties of a sysadmin may range from performing routine network inspections to directly assisting users with their computer problems. In a larger organization a sysadmin may manage and implement changes in the network and supervise the work of a novice sysadmin. It is important to note that there are different levels of expertise to systems administration. Generally speaking, a senior sysadmin must display a proficient technological understanding of the operations of an entire network and the skill to install, configure, and fix every component of an IT departments infrastructure. Win2ix Systems employees only senior systems administrators who are qualified to manage your SMB’s most complex IT problems.
2. What are the advantages of “fractional outsourcing” the traditional duties of a senior Systems Administrator?
There are three major advantages to “fractional outsourcing” the traditional duties of a senior systems administrator: First, fractional outsourcing your most challenging IT issues can save your business money because you do not need to permanently hire a senior systems administrator; second, fractional outsourcing can save your business time because our senior systems administrators already have the experience to handle your SMB’s most mission-critical problems; and third, utilizing the skills of a senior systems administrator can both compliment your existing IT resources and optimize the overall performance of your operations.
3. What is Open Source Software?
Open source software (OSS) is a term applied to a collection of software development, licensing, and distribution practices that permits users to freely access, copy, modify, and distribute the source code of certain types of software.
4. What are the origins of Open Source?
The contemporary understanding of open source software is largely derived from the Free Software Movement. Generally speaking, the Free Software Movement emerged in 1983 when Richard Stallman announced his plan to develop the GNU operating system. Frustrated with the inflexibility of proprietary software, Stallman sought to construct a new model of software development and distribution that was based on peer collaboration rather than proprietary competition. In 1985, Stallman published the GNU Manifesto, which outlined the primary aims of the Free Software Movement. The GNU Manifesto played a central role in shaping the overall philosophy of both the Free Software Movement and its governing body, the Free Software Foundation. According to the GNU Manifesto, free software is defined by four fundamental freedoms:
* The freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
* The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs
* The freedom to make and redistribute copies
* The freedom to improve the program, and release improvements.
In conjunction with the GNU Manifesto, Stallman also popularized the concept of copyleft, a legal term designed to protect the rights of the free software community to access, copy, modify and distribute software without fear of persecution. It is important to note that although the GNU Manifesto emphasizes that software should be free, it does not preclude the possibility of acquiring profit from free software. In other words, “free software” does not refer to price, it refers to freedom. Or, as Stallman famously puts it, “think of free as in free speech, not free beer.” The free software community acknowledges that free software can be utilized as a valuable commodity for the commercial market. At the same time, advocates of the Free Software Movement tend to focus their efforts primarily on highlighting the social benefits of free software. Stated simply, the Free Software Movement is not only concerned with changing how programmers traditionally produce and distribute software; it is also about changing the way society shares knowledge.
5. What is GNU/Linux?
By 1989, The GNU operating system was almost complete. However, a major obstacle confronting the completion of GNU project was the lack of a viable kernel. The kernel refers to the core component of an operating system. A kernel is designed to connect the application software to the hardware and manage the computer system’s overall resources. Although the GNU project began to construct a kernel called GNU Hurd, it failed to achieve a level of maturity that could warrant widespread application. However, in 1991, a Finnish student by the name of Linus Torvalds began working on his own operating system and eventually created the Linux kernel. A community of developers began contributing code to the Linux kernel and it evolved to the point in which it could be fully integrated with programs from the GNU project. The integration of GNU programs and the Linux kernel generated a new, free, all-purpose operating system traditionally labelled GNU/Linux, but is more commonly referred to as simply Linux.
6. What is the difference between free software and open source software?
Originally coined in 1998, the term “open source” refers to a particular development methodology that capitalizes on the commercial value of free software. Traditionally, commercial enterprises were hesitant to embrace the notion of free software because of the political baggage associated with the free software movement. Both free software and open source share a similar purpose, namely, to help facilitate the production and distribution of quality software that is unfettered by proprietary constraints. Moreover, both free software and open source share a similar licensing model, which basically stipulates that the software code is always freely available and permits unrestricted modification. Perhaps the chief difference between the two is that free software is commonly associated with a particular ideological agenda, whereas open-source tends to focus primarily on the commercial value of open code software. A third term that has gathered a significant amount of popularity in Europe and South America is “Floss” (free/libre/open source software) which is an inclusive category that combines the meanings of both free and open source software.
7. Why open source?
Open source means that the source code of the software is freely available. In basic terms, this means is that a user has access to the programming code that defines a particular piece of software. There are many advantages to having access to the source code. For instance, the transparent design of open source software permits users to not only access the code, but also to modify it so that it can be customized to suit his or her particular needs. By permitting both access and modification to the code, an open source model facilitates a collaborative approach to the development of software that can draw freely on the contributions of numerous programmers, which, in turn, can help to maximize the performance and stability of the software. In addition to enhancing the overall quality of the software, the collaborative approach of the open source model can leads to greater security and less downtime because of Linus’ s Law which stipulates that, “given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” From the perspective of the consumer, perhaps one of the most appealing aspects of open source software is that it is much more affordable than most propriety software and yet it is equally effective. In other words, open source software can do everything that propitiatory software can do but at a much lower cost. In his influential essay, The Cathedral and the Bazaar (1999), Eric S. Raymond outlined two distinct methods of engineering software. In the Cathedral model, access to the source code is restricted and the distribution of software moves top-down from the program designers to the users. The Cathedral-style development model is typical of traditional proprietary software companies that offer a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) product. Raymond claims that the overall efficiency of a Cathedral-style development model is limited because by isolating the source code from the public it fails to capitalize on Linus’s Law. In contrast, the Bazaar-style development model that is common to most open source software permits the source code to be widely available and the design of the software tends to move bottom-up so that a network of “volunteer” programmers collaborate to develop and debug the code. In comparison to the Cathedral model, the Bazaar model has the advantage of being able to draw on the technical expertise of a diverse pool of programmers with a potentially unlimited amount of resources. Most significantly, Raymond’s essay highlights one of the major differences between open source software and propitiatory software, namely, freedom of choice.
8. What is the difference between open source software and proprietary software?
When a consumer purchases software for his or her computer, they never actually own the software; rather, they are only purchasing the rights to use the software on their computer. The consumer may find this arrangement quite satisfactory so long as the software operates properly and he and she can afford the necessary upgrades. However, problems can often arise for the consumer once the software they purchased malfunctions or becomes obsolete. If the consumer encounters a problem with open source software it is quite likely that he or she can obtain free support from the open source community or download and install a newer version of the software for free. Most significantly, open source software permits modification so that the more advanced users can actually fix their own problems (and even distribute their changes) because he or she can legally access the source code. The situation is quite different in the case of proprietary software. If a consumer encounters a problem with proprietary software he or she is required to pay a service provider for support because the source code is a heavily guarded secret. In addition, if a consumer is running an older version of proprietary software that is no longer supported, he or she has no choice but to purchase an expensive upgrade. Critics claim that by disbarring users from legally modifying the software, proprietary software providers aim to “lock-in” their customers to a specific service format that forces users to continually pay for both support and upgrades. In contrast to proprietary software, open source software not only provides the consumer with a choice of how he or she manages their software solutions, but it also comes at a fraction of the cost. Open source software provides consumers with more choice and less cost. However, what about functionality, that is, can open source software compete at the same level with proprietary software when it comes to meeting the evolving needs of modern business? The short is yes. Open source software not only matches the functionality levels of proprietary software, it actually exceeds it.
9. What are the advantages of Linux?
Linux is the most successful open source operating system in the world. Originally, the term “Linux” referred primarily to the operating kernel that Linus Torvalds created. However, contemporary usage of the term “Linux” generally refers to a complete open source operating system. Unlike most proprietary operating systems, which are structured as a closed, monolithic system, the Linux operating system is structured as a pluralistic collection of interpolatable programs, applications and subsystems, which are developed primarily “to scratch a programmers itch.” In other words, whereas proprietary software tends to evolve in response to corporate direction, the Linux operating system, in contrast, evolves in response to the needs of a community of users who freely contribute to the code in the hopes of enhancing the overall quality of the Linux operating system. There are two major advantage to the “bazaar-style” developmental model of Linux: First, by drawing on a worldwide community of programmers, Linux software is exposed to an incomparably high degree of testing and experimentation that ensures the software is both reliable and robust; and second, this collaborative approach also increases the rate at which innovations in the software evolve. Unlike proprietary operating systems which tend to be controlled by a single company, the Linux operating system is open to the public and thus numerous companies have developed different versions of the Linux operating system for the commercial market. These different versions of the Linux operating system are commonly refereed to as a Linux distribution or “distro.” In basic terms a Linux distribution refers to a remote collection of system software and application packages that are formatted as a coherent whole. The versatility of the Linux operating system permits distributors to develop programs that serve a variety of different purposes. Perhaps one of the most popular deployments of the Linux operating systems is in the internet server market. Much of the popularity of the Linux servers stems from the superior performance of the LAMP software bundle. Lamp is an acronym for a solution stack of free, open source software, that contains all the components necessary for a viable general purpose web server. The “L” of the Lamp stack refers to the Linux operating system. The “A” refers to the Apache HTTP web server software. The “M” refers to MySQL, a relational database management system. Finally, the “P” generally refers to PHP, Hypertext Preprocessor, or two other scripting languages, namely, Perl or Python. There are five reason why developers tend to favour the flexibility and simplicity of the LAMP stack:
* It is easy to code
* It is easy to deploy
* It is easy to develop locally
* It offers ubiquitous hosting
* It is cost-effective
10. Where can I receive more information about the benefits of open source?
There are many websites that offer valuable information about the value of open source. For example:
Other sites of interest include the following:
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