I wrote and run the free hands-on Linux "junior sysadmin" training course LinuxUpskillChallenge.org - via Reddit. It has run well for a year, and I'd like to see it continue. The content is pretty standard, but the format and delivery is quite different to anything else out there.

But I'm terminally ill and it looks like I have only weeks to go.
Now in the tricky process of arranging it to be kept up by a new "tutor" or crew. Livia from Brazil (@livialima) has stepped up and is doing a great job. All organised with a few messages - but I think we should do a Zoom.
An example of [recent feedback](https://www.reddit.com/r/linuxupskillchallenge/comments/j3g2s0/thoughts_and_comments_day_20/?utm_medium=android_app&utm_source=share)
And some [other background](https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=23990135)
AMA about the process of changing stewardship or dealing with a terminal diagnosis ....
Proof: https://imgur.com/a/LArQQw1
Compare with my LinkedIn, Reddit profile
and Hacker News posting: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=24380969

Comments: 40 • Responses: 12  • Date: 

tarepandaz39 karma

I wish I had access to a tool like that when I was learning Linux many years ago, so just want to say thanks for building that.

How did you feel when you were diagnosed Vs how you feel now? Did you go through the various stages of grief as it's often called?

snori7455 karma

Thanks, very kind. Nuh,

I think there was one big hit of grief for me - realising I'd miss 20 years of life so many events with family etc.

Probably took me a week or two to process that but since then it's just plodding forward to the next mini-goal

helpercolumn15 karma

Thanks for putting the course together and for all of the work you have put into making it run smoothly. I'm pretty bummed to hear about your situation, it really breaks my heart.


1 - You mentioned "mini-goals". What is your next one?

2 - Is contributing code to the Kernel something only superhumans can do? Do you have any suggestion on how to get to that level?

3 - What do you think of Linux certifications?

4 - What do you think of this bootcamp? Is it worth the time and financial commitment? https://training.linuxfoundation.org/training/cloud-engineer-bootcamp/

5 - If someone says: "I know Linux very well". What do you expect them to know?

Thanks for doing the AMA!

snori7412 karma

  1. Giving a presentation on Wikipedia to some old folks on Tuesday

  2. Yup.

  3. Sorta required to get past the recruiters. There's lots of good stuff there, and if you put in the work it'll be good

4.Looks pretty darn good

  1. It's a big list...

livia2lima10 karma

We haven't met YET, sir. NZ is one of my dream destinations, don't try me! HAHA

Jokes aside, I consider you great inspiration for the curious minds wandering the internet. Your 'pet project' changes the lives of many every month and it's beloved by many more, rest assured it will not go to waste.

But since this is an AMA, let me ask:

How many postcards do you have?

From how many countries?

Do you have any favorites?

Any that you don't have yet but would love to?

snori7411 karma

About a dozen, from maybe 10 countries. Not really some are silly, some artworks etc. One came in a envelope covered in old trad stamps from way back - that was cool.

SociopathManAMA6 karma

Sorry in advance if this offends, I don't quite know how to ask this without it sounding like it might come off as negative. Has dealing with a terminal illness impacted your ability to feel or empathize with others? And, if it has, how can you tell?

I wish you the best and as much comfort as you can have, during this phase of your life.

snori7413 karma

No problem,

I'm pretty low normally on the empathy scale... so I'm told -)

My wife is understandably very upset, and I think I'm a bit better now at understanding her.

So not a lot of change.

But, I'm now Very aware of how many people are going through all sorts of terrible Health problem.

Always super grateful to live where I do!

yeehawnk6 karma

Your project and class looks amazing, I had never heard of it until now but will most likely attempt to learn much from it. As well I'm sorry to hear about your situation, but you seem to have a very humble and peaceful outlook on it.

What advice would you give to a college kid getting close to graduating and seeking to work in cybersecurity/IT systems with the current job market?

What is one of your favorite life lessons and challenges that have made you into the person you are now?

And what are just some of your favorite activities you are enjoying currently to spend time with those close to you?

snori747 karma

There's still plenty of cyber security work to be done. Just make a start and then follow whatever path you enjoy the most.

Challenge yourself. I've done some pretty crazy things, and never regretted them.

Gratitude. Can't say it was a big thing for me previous to 3 years ago, but it sure is now.

"Walks" with friends, with me in my Travel Scoot

oldmuttsysadmin5 karma

This is horrible news. No other way to say it. I just started my first time through the class, even though I've been a sysadmin for many years. You can always learn something new. Have you considered getting a few more Redditors involved? A few more helpers may help keep your class going. Thanks for what you've done for Linux education.

snori745 karma

I think the big challenge is the "recruitment" on Day 18, that's when we let people know the next course is coming. A "crew," running that would be very handy.

The more numbers the better the forum experience.

People chipping in to explain and tutor would be appreciated, there's a lot that follow along who are very experieced

semitones2 karma

Hey, you're right about the format of this course being something completely new. The "deletes after 4 days" was the hook I needed to dive in after years of passing up free linux courses. And the interaction with other classmates via reddit is honestly brilliant. Thank you so much for making this.

Whoo, this is a heavy topic. Reading these other comments, what stands out is how open you've been about it, and that is something.

How did you get into computers and linux in general?

What has helped you the most, in processing that you have a terminal illness? And what have been the 'least helpful' parts of it, if that's even possible to ask.

I don't think I've encountered before the transfer of a project from one person to another because of a terminal illness. Especially not someone you've never met before. How do you begin doing that? How does it feel to pass on the responsibilities?

One 'fun' one: do you have a number, or an estimate for how many people you've taught so far?

Thanks, and cheers.

snori745 karma

A long and winding road...

I got my first job as a Computer Operator at nineteen before I'd even seen one! Punch cards on a university mainframe.

Fast forward to supporting IBM PCs and sent on a short AIX course around RS/6000 times. HATED vi! Much LANs and Netware, got bored and did SCO Unix Admin course.

My real learning started with setting up Linux Spamassassin boxes for clients, and then I moved to various security topics, Nessus vuln scans and "phish your staff" things.

My disease is "treatable but not curable" so once diagnosed I always knew I had limited time. Oddly the uncertainty of just how much is a bit wearing. Two days ago I think the doc would have given me 7 day (they hate to put a figure on it tho), but now I'm wondering whether I'm a drama queen, because it feel (relativly) fine after two days in hospital on drips.

Well as you know, Livia @livia2lima put a lot of work into those 20 videos. She's clearly nice, experienced and smart. There's lots of little things to transfer though - domain name, website hosting, GitHub etc. A bit sad, but she'll do a great job.

That's very hard to judge. 9000 have subscribed over the last year but I suspect only 10% actually participate.

semitones2 karma

So does that mean you like emacs? That is a remarkable journey, especially starting from punch cards all the way through network security. What was it like phishing staff? I've heard it's a lot easier to fall for than most people predict.

That makes sense about the uncertainty, knowing what you have time for, and how you'll feel. I hope you have plenty more 'feeling fine' days to come.

That is a lot to transfer. I am looking forward to the videos, and from Day 0 appreciated how you and Livia were both involved, friendly, and knowledgeable.

Either way you slice that number, it's pretty cool and it's only going to grow. Thank you!

snori743 karma

Nuh, never touched emacs.

Phishing was fun, pretty consistently caught 20%.

Did learn not to spearfish senior guys; rate goes to 50% and those guys Hate being caught! (They have The Power to wreck you so, no point in arguing education etc.

EDIT Added how they will use that power

Barnowl792 karma

Besides all this, how are you feeling? I just mean about...everything.

We are all in the same boat, knowing our time is short, but some of us have been given more details about the time and manner of our passing. We all see death off in the distance, but it must look different up close.

Many people have found that psychedelic experiences of the mushroom kind are often able to take away the intense fear of death that most of us keep hidden behind a rock from the light of our awareness. They will certainly be on the menu when I know that my time is drawing near.

snori741 karma

I don't think I've ever had a fear of death. Ive had a fair bit of experience of pain and other crap, and if I have to go through that at the end I will.

Would however be keen to try mushrooms, just for the mind expanding effects - hearing very good things.

BanduMorr1 karma

How do we go about joining the course?

snori741 karma

Just subscribe to the subreddit and read "How This Works"'. We're mid course, so I'd re commend waiting for the next in two weeks.

(If you're impatient, setup with one of the Day 0 posts, then read at least Day 1 direct from my GitHub)

Aramiil1 karma

Thanks for your hard work on a great project! I hope you find your peace if not already, and enjoy the postcards!!

If you could add one functionality, command, or otherwise to Linux, what would it be?

snori742 karma

Not sure what I would add, but it's interesting seeing what's coming. Big changes behind the scenes for home directories...

Immortal_Tuttle1 karma

Steve, I just wanted to thank you for all hard work and this wonderful course. My journey with unices started almost 30 years ago. 11 years ago I got very sick. I was able to survive, but I am partially disabled and I can be awake only for short amount of time during the day. Then I found your course. At first I was like some people "what? Linux course for newbies? And he says that I require a VPS to fully experience that? I will take on this course and I will prove it's the most useless thing!". And then I started. I made a promise to do all the course has to offer including comments, extra curriculum and reading. After a week I was exhausted and happy. My wife said she didn't see me like that in years. I was spending all my available time to study, to follow the flow. My little OCD wanted to nitpick on things and it couldn't. Every single lesson was perfectly written. I had fun. A lot of it. External VPS means I don't care if I screw something up. I can recreate it in seconds, but on the other hand - exposed machine was giving the "Real Thing" feeling. Old sysadmin motto "you can always learn something new about your system" - was of course true in this case. I learned a lot. I learned how to be humble again and how much I have yet to learn. Maybe it sounds strange - but your course and your approach to this made me a better human - and I thank you for that.

Maybe the content is pretty standard, but the form isn't. I am telling every single person that asks me about "how to start in Linux administration" about this project.

Ok, this is AMA, so I should ask some questions :)

  1. What would you tell people that want to start their career in Linux/Unix administration?
  2. Did you met BOFH embodiment in your career?
  3. What is your way of dealing with a lot of small, but infuriating in large enough group, things?
  4. Were you thinking about making a Part Two of this course?

(BTW: expect more postcards from Emerald Isle :D)

snori742 karma

Great to hear your experience!

  1. I think they just need to get their toe in the door. Certs are cool but a more 'active' course like this hopefully helps a n00b to credibly talk the talk when they meet a future boss.

  2. Yes, but he was a mainframe guy running the whole country. We were being shown around thcompter room and he remarked that <city> was "still down". He knew the problem and the solution, but they were too scared of him to ask for help, and he wouldn't help until they admitted they'd mucked it up!

  3. I don't think I cope :-(

  4. Yes, doing planning now. Will take a while.