Category Archives: Updates

Where am I now?

Update 3: What the blog has been missing



Say no more! It is very clear that I procrastinated too often trying to keep up with my blog site. This time I’m not going to make any more guarantees about my progress. Instead, I’ll just go with the flow and update my blog site the best I can as life comes with too many distractions nowadays. Recently, I was brushing up the blog site, gave it a simple refreshing look and a new title. I realized the dark ‘parament’ theme I had wasn’t convenient as I couldn’t view the blog site with the inverted color setting in Accessibility when reading from my iPad at nights. With the new theme, it’s now easier on the eyes. I also learned I can finally add the code tags this time and no longer having to resort to block quotes.

I’ve been saying I’m working on the RHCSA (Red Hat Certified System Administrator) for the past four years, and unfortunately I still haven’t taken the exam yet. Four years ago, I was far from prepared as I was just beginning to learn how Linux works. I’m now impressed with how much my knowledge has grown since then. I wish I hadn’t procrastinated with the blog as I’d be able to see how much I learned.

Since my last blog post, I completed the vSphere: Install, Configure, Manage course for vSphere 5.5 at Stanly Community College online. The cost of the program is really small, which makes it a worthwhile investment if you’re considering the VCP-DCV certification. More information about the course can be found at After completing the course, I received a certificate from them in the mail. You’d need this to prove to VMware that you took the required training course, so that you are eligible to become certified after completing the exam and course requirements.


Shortly after, I completed the above VMware training early as they allow you to accelerate through the course, my newborn daughter arrived and kept my wife and I extremely busy. We’re really blessed to have our sweet, adorable, healthy baby. With that on top of our busy lives, I’ve thought attempt the VCP5-DCV exam as I also learned that we can get a discount on the exam. I purchased Scott Lowe’s Mastering VMware vSphere 5.5 book for the course, which turned out to be unnecessary as the course alone was easy to follow through and complete. Who was I kidding when I mentioned I still have my old rig with only 8 GB of RAM? I realize I have a long way to go with setting up the lab environment. I asked for help in one of my favorite forums, and I was suggested to try out AutoLab. It wasn’t simple to follow through at first, but I finally was able put it together. I did say to myself that I was going to write up a blog post on setting up AutoLab, but I deferred due to lack of time. I do not plan on revisiting the AutoLab again to write up a tutorial.

So, why haven’t I taken the VMware exam yet? I’m going to be honest. I’m not impressed with what VMware has to offer after going through the labs, the course, and dealing with hardware issues. While I’m aware the opportunities are very lucrative for VMware-certified professionals, I feel VMware is catered toward mostly non-Linux platforms. I’m not a big fan of Windows servers. Although, I’m almost certain I can figure my way around in it as it doesn’t have a steep learning curve as Linux, and I had some prior experiences with it in a classroom environment. I’ve heard about the new Nano Server feature in the upcoming Windows Server 2016, which allow admins to install the server and administer it without the GUI. I see how this may persuade Linux admins to give them a chance. However, the SSH server that’s supposed to come with Powershell 5.0 is still in its infantry and is not intended for production at the time of this writing. Here’s the link to read up more about it.

Some days, I even regretted wasting my time learning vSphere when I should’ve been focusing on the RHCSA. I was under the impression that Linux admins must be familiar with ESXi and vSphere, but I was wrong. The poor job postings from inept HR managers that’s asking for unrealistic expectations were the source of my confusion. They’re asking for unicorn system admins dealing with both platforms heavily, which I don’t really see myself doing down the road.

By mid-spring time, I was distracted with looking for an open-source alternative to VMware technology. My curiosity took over, and I immersed myself into whatever I could find. I briefly tried oVirt, the upstream for Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization, which seems to be an open-source equivalent for vSphere. It’s really nice, but I have no real purpose to keep playing around with it after a while. Then I decided to take a stab at OpenStack, and attempted to follow the guide, installing Icehouse completely from scratch with CentOS 6. I was already aware that I could do away with a quick minimal set up of OpenStack and play around with it, but I preferred to see what’s happening behind the scenes. My only objective was to do the minimal set up with only the controller, compute, and network nodes, and get them up and running. Unfortunately, I did not succeed. It turned out I’d need some familiarity with a working OpenStack instance before I can try building from scratch as I couldn’t figure what went wrong. Although, I learned a lot about NTP while working on this project, and I don’t regret spending too much time on it.

I finally put all of my excitements/distractions to a halt and channeled my focus to the RHCSA study. I still had my Michael Jane book on RHEL6, and I decided to keep working with that since I’ve already worked on the first two chapters a while back. I took notes of those chapters as many people complained about the confusing  lab set up described in Jang’s book. Beside, there weren’t that many good RHCSA/RHCE books that cover RHEL7 at the time, and I was very comfortable with CentOS as I know my way around in it well enough. I blazed through two chapters per week, jotting down only the subjects that I were not familiar with in my composite notebook. It has been proven that we retain better when we paraphrase and write down on concrete papers rather than typing. I’ll admit that I skimmed through some of the lab exercises as not every RHCSA topics were foreign to me. I was working up until the end of chapter 7 and put a pause in my study due to an upcoming LFCS exam I need to take. I forgot to mention this in my last blog post. I was only two chapters away from completing the RHCSA portion of the book.

The Linux Foundation Certified System administrator (LFCS) is a practical hand-on Linux exam just like the RHCSA except that you can the exam anytime anywhere from your computer with an external webcam. You can take the exam on one of the three distros: CentOS, openSUSE, and Ubuntu. Surprisingly enough, Debian’s not listed. Since the exam was very new to the IT certification market, many of us were not quite comfortable shelling out $300 despite the free retake they’ve been offering. I actually paid only $50 for the exam voucher since they were selling them at a special introductory price to the first 500 purchasers when they first announced the new exam in August 2014. I didn’t book the exam for over 9 months since I purchased the voucher, as I was waiting on other supposedly experienced Linux admins to take the test and tell us their experiences as the blueprint was somewhat too generic and vague at the time. I took the exam last June and flunked it terribly due to a technical difficulty with the exam delivery itself. Thankfully, I was still eligible for a free retake before the 20th of August. However, I was only 3% short from the passing score the second time. I nearly had the exam! I know this may be a silly conspiracy theory but I was convinced I didn’t get a pass because I didn’t pay the full price for the exam. I used guide to prep for the exam.

Before getting back to my RHCSA study, I’ve been wanting to learn Python programming for quite some time as this would make a great addition to my skill set. I’ve tried to complete the Python programming course on in January 2015, but I was also working on the vSphere class. I had to defer the python class until they offered the course again late August. I’ll say the course is very informative and  was worth every minute and effort. I’ve tried, but I didn’t retain much of what I learned afterward. I didn’t feel as challenged as I was with the edX course. This was my first time learning with a computer science approach, which makes the course very interesting as I had taken introductory non-computer-science programming classes at two of the most well-regarded colleges in the country that didn’t discuss some of the subjects I believe every programmers should learn. Although, I didn’t pay for the verified certificate, but I passed the course with an 89%. I’d not mind taking it again in the future.

Again, I got carried away with the programming, and I was thinking about what I can do with my new Python knowledge as I wanted to establish a portfolio on GitHub for prospective employers. I tried looking into Ansible Python API, but I’d need to be at least familiar with Ansible or other configuration management tool first. Reinventing the wheel was also frown upon in the industry, which discouraged me from looking deeper into it. I plan to revisit this another time in the future. I was advised to come up with a programming solution for my employer. That’s when I came across wxPython GUI framework as I wanted to create a real-time performance metric tool for Windows platform that’d give us our statistics almost immediately rather than waiting the following week for the database to generate our static report on how we did the previous week. I work in a call center where our performance is being measured. For over a month, I was working on a proof of concept from home, and I proposed to my employer about my idea. They liked it but asked me to defer the work as they foresaw that we’d be getting more inbound calls in the coming months. They couldn’t afford to have one of us working on a side project  for the time being.

For a brief moment, I’ve thought about doing a career in Python development, but it appears that’s not as commonly used outside the data science industry. I really enjoyed working on the programming project for my employer, and I can’t deny that I learned a lot, especially from reading the wxPython documentations. While I was working on the project, I found out Codecademy recently offered a new course on git. I never had experience with a version control software. Codecademy didn’t go too deep on the subject, and I felt I was missing something as I couldn’t comprehend how more than one persons can work on the same project simultaneously and not overwrite other contributors’ works until I read the first few chapters of Pro Git book.

After being told that I couldn’t work on the project for work now, I moved on from it and then remained distracted again with Vagrant as I was told it’d make building home labs a lot easier. I tested it out with using VirtualBox as my provider.I began to understand the true power of this nifty software as I can virtualize an instance faster than creating a VM from scratch. I can clearly see how Vagrant complements with configuration management tool of our choosing. Although, I do realize that Vagrant is not intended for production servers, but mostly gears toward developers and testers.

Lastly, I finally went back to my RHCSA study by new year. Although, I couldn’t use Jang’s RHEL6 book anymore as we’ve moved to RHEL7. Red Hat’s no longer offering exam on RHEL6. Before I could toss the book aside, I decided to finish the whole book, passively reading the RHCE portion of the book. I also took note of the last two chapters I missed in the RHCSA portion. Then I moved on to Sander Van Vugt’s RHEL7 book. I read the whole RHCSA section, but only bookmarked the pages I intended to revisit to take notes and review as a couple of  new technologies were introduced in RHEL7 that were not in RHEL6. The chapters in Van Vugt’s book are very brief, and there are only 24 chapters. I’ve to add that the first edition of his book has too many typos, and it was difficult to ignore when trying to emulate his lab scenarios. Yet, his book is very informative, and at the time of this writing I’d still recommend his book to anyone. Jang’s making everyone waiting forever for his RHEL7 book, and I’d not recommend waiting for his book as there are also Red Hat documentations that are far more useful too.