Linux experience enhances any skills set

Is Linux worth learning? At least one college professor says so.

"Any AS/400 pro who wants to expand his skills should be looking at Linux," says Glenn Booker, who teaches software project management and system design courses at Drexel University in Philadelphia.

Booker has been tracking Linux's development for more than six years. "It's definitely more user-friendly now than it's ever been -- with newer versions [of Linux] and device drivers from companies like Red Hat," he says. Booker runs the Linux on AS/400 Project, which consists of a small group of programmers trying to get Linux to run on the CISC AS/400. An IBM engineer told the members of the project in March that any attempt to port Linux to Booker's own, antiquated CISC AS/400 is bound to fail. But IBM now plans to release a version of Linux for newer AS/400s by mid-2001.

Booker, meanwhile, encourages programmers to bone up on Linux at two of his favorite Linux sites: the Linux Documentation Project and The Linux Kernel Archives "The Documentation Project has tons of books -- guides and how-to's -- that you can download," Booker says. "Only the most serious programmers will want to go straight to The Kernel Archives."

Will there be a payoff for programmers at the end of the Linux learning curve? "I'm not sure what the future holds for Linux on the AS/400," Booker says. "But this an excellent time to get involved and learn how these two can work together."

Baard is a contributing editor in Milton, Mass.

This was first published in September 2000

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