Linux Class

Linux ClassroomI signed up for a Linux Administration certification program, because I thought it would be fun, and because Amazon Web Services is a Linux house, which is geek for “we use a lot of Linux around the place.”

So I walk into the classroom and I was the only girl…by a lot.  That’s really the only way I can explain it.  Not only were the other 25 people in the room male, but they were all the same kind of male. Geek alpha male, Linux flavored.

No one else had multicolored hair, or was knitting, or played roller derby. They all looked at me like, “I think you might be in the wrong room.” And I looked at them like, “I think I might be in the wrong room.”  I mean, where were the other women who think taking Linux certification classes is a fun career enhancer?  Am I really alone in this?

After I got used to the culture shock, eased in part by Ken, my 50-something lab partner who was a real sweetie, I had fun. The instructor was in his late 20s or early thirties and uses Hadoop in his work (an open-source, big-data thing that’s also part of my work.) And it was good to finally start learning about this side eddy of the web that’s eluded me thus far.

I loved that the class is hands on.  The very first day I got to install Debian 6 (a flavor of Linux) and set up boot, swap, and storage partitions.  I mean, what’s not fun about that?

Next class we get to learn the GNU commands…


9 thoughts on “Linux Class

  1. Welcome to my world. After 20+ years in an engineering profession, I usually think I’m in the wrong room if there are other women in it. I’ve been lucky that in most of my years at the ‘Soft, I’ve worked on fairly diverse teams. But any time I’ve worked on cross-group projects, gender diversity disappears. My current group is four guys and me. In the outside committees I work with, one has no other women on it out of up to 25 to 30 people. Another is a little better with about 25% women out of 35ish participants.

    I’m trying to even the odds by encouraging women in the CS department at my alma mater to stick with it and follow their geek passion. There are several efforts at the ‘Soft to encourage college and high school geek girls – is there something similar at Amazon? If you want to change the numbers the next time you walk into a classroom, sometimes you have to help with the recruiting 🙂

    Or teach the guys to knit on break. That works too.


    P.S. Geek guy crowd with no dyed hair? That’s just weird.

  2. You’re not the only female linux geek, just the only one *there*. I cut my teeth on Unix at Cabletron in the early 90s, and installed Suse in about ’94 or so. My 14 year old is now an Ubuntu fan. Silly graphical interfaces, LOL, he doesn’t know how easy he has it! 😀 Gnu’s not Unix! 😉

  3. I was in your fathers physics class at Jackson, MS and often went with him to pick you up at the alternative (Davis) school. You might remember in physics lab you would call me stupid and I can’t say you were wrong. I loved your book the Last Mortral Man and think you were a genius to get him out of a fix on ever other page using very remarkable strategies. I have often searched for your father but no luck—if you could let me know where he is I would appreciate it beyond limits—one of the few real people that I ever knew. Hang in the weaving stuff and say hi to your husband for me, and I hope it doesn’t rain on you too much out there. Thanks, Emit (time spelled backwards) Holmes

    • Hi Emit, of course I remember you! I’ll forward your message to my dad, I’m sure he’d enjoy hearing from you. (Sorry for ever calling you stupid, must have been during my punk kid phase.)

      • Since you are a writer, I need to say that in my post I left an apostrophe out of the word “fathers” and spelled the word “every” wrong—sent it before I corrected it. Already got the reply from your dad and he says he still has the same airplane and plans to come through here sometime in the future. I have so much to discuss with him. I think someone should make an Indiana Jones type movie out of your Last Mortal Man book—I still can’t believe how amazing it is.

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