10 Characteristics of a Linux Guru?

khess 1 Tallied Votes 2K Views Share

I just read a post on another site from someone who calls himself (herself?), linux guru, and it made me ponder the following question: What is a Linux Guru? I've known many knowledgeable people over the years but never have I met an actual guru. I wonder if people like linux guru think that he can call himself "linux guru" because he believes that everyone else is a Linux Newbie? Or, perhaps linux guru is the world's only true Linux Guru and he wants his due fame. To help answer the question, I've compiled a list of ten characteristics that I think define what a Linux Guru is.

I've worked with Linux since 1995 and still wouldn't call myself a guru. It seems that there's always someone out there who's found some obscure thingy to tell me about--making me feel as if I don't scour the Internet's neutral zone enough for these things.

What are the ten characteristics of a Linux Guru?

1. Knowledgeable in all major Linux distributions.
2. Configures Samba, DNS, Sendmail and Apache with no Googling.
3. Helps others solve their problems with Linux.
4. Blogs or writes about personal experiences with Linux.
5. Donates time and resources to at least one Linux project.
6. Uses Linux on a variety of computing hardware.
7. Hacks Linux-based devices for fun and/or profit.
8. Finds innovative ways to use Linux at work.
9. Is a Linux Evangelist.
10. Has a collection of very early (Kernel 1.x or older) Linux CDs.

I think you'd agree that very few people meet all 10 of these. Perhaps there are few more attributes that would help describe a Linux Guru.

Does a Linux Guru always compile her kernel after a fresh installation on a new piece of hardware? Does a Guru always choose the same distribution or have a favorite among the fray?

What attributes or characteristics does a Linux Guru possess?

Here is the unchanged post from linux guru on that other site. If you can make heads or tails of it, please post an answer here and I'll make sure that linux guru gets it.

configure zimbra on ubuntu 8.04
i am having knowledge of postfix which i had configured on ubuntu 8.04. now i want to configure zimbra on test server using same distro i.e ubuntu 8.04. is it mandatary to make DNS in zimbra. and if yes than how to create local dns as i am not having any static ip.i will be using my dyndns account.

Write back and tell me what other characteristics you think define a Linux Guru.

unixbhaskar 0 Newbie Poster

Hey Ken,

You are almost spot on... but one thing that real or true GNU/Linux guru never be partial to any distro.I am presently using Gentoo(my 1st choice),openSUSE,Arch,Slackware,CentOS and Ubuntu. I have been using it for quite some time now.I found that one has to have the knack to explore and investigate what is the strength and weakness in distro and try to fix it or inform the community to fix it as soon as possible.

As you said it right that help others with you GNU/Linux knowledge is absolute must.And for haven's sake don't have any ego thing in that fellow who called herself/himself as "guru".

After spending so many years with different GNU/Linux (precisely 10 yrs) running I discover everyday something new and interesting(may be bacause of my dull head that I couldn't find it early... )

In one liner I am " Musing with GNU/Linux" and attach with it forever it seems,because I feel at home with it(as my wife knows it very well )


khess 95 Practically a Master Poster

Thanks Bhaskar,
I think that a real Linux guru would not call himself/herself a Linux guru but I could be wrong.

grumpster 0 Newbie Poster

I've been using Linux for over ten years and I'm definitely not a guru. And that's the thing - I don't have to be. For the last few years at least Linux has Just Worked for me and any minor issues have been quickly solved with a bit of googling. I don't use Linux because I'm a geek or an enthusiast, I use it because it's fast and reliable and I don't have to fiddle with it or maintain it. I just want to do my work and not have to be a guru..

vectevs 0 Newbie Poster

I starting using Linux ubuntu aprox. two months ago, i don't know how much need a time to become a Linux Guru, a think a lot of time-many years.

bertro 0 Newbie Poster

Hey, Ken, i think you forgot characteristic #11: "His name is Linus Torvalds" :). Now there's your one and only true Linux guru!

Seriously, I've been using and helping people with GNU/Linux for around 10 years now, including pretty advanced stuff, but i could never consider myself a guru. There's a huge amount of things i still need to learn, especially low-level kernel stuff.

embedded 0 Newbie Poster

No people I know and would consider Guru's can do everything in your 10 rules including Linus. May I suggest that the primary might be that "you can get the job done with a minimum of false starts" and that you know where to look for the answers like most Engineering issues.

I have worked on Embedded Linux projects and many General Embedded Systems and can generally come up from a Marketing Requirement to a Design Document then execute on the Embedded design myself. I do consider myself an Embedded Systems Guru, I do not consider myself a Linux Guru. I am generally technologically agnostic and want to solve the problem in the most expedient manner that is inexpensive.

The most distressing part of it all is that marketers expect to have any Embedded Linux system out in a month. It really cannot be done. (Look at Open Pandora)

People who lecture and write books about Embedded Linux have been fired off consulting gig's because the customer expected them to not only have all the answers but they were to single handedly have the work done in a month. The customer generally cannot have their user expectations tempered by reality. Look at most forum "hate mail" for confirmation of this. KDE Forums have been rife with this kind of false user expectation.

P.S. I suspect that a rule of Guru is to be able to communicate effectively in the "lingua franca" of the group which clearly the Guru picked on did not. However on parsing the question we can see the question may be how to run with a dyndns.com account which infers "Linux Guru" was using a cable modem thus he does not have the luxury of a static IP.

technophilia 0 Newbie Poster

The casual idea of a guru is typically associated with someone who "almost knows everything" about a system. In the case of Linux, I don't think such a person exists. The wide spectrum Linux encompasses is simply too much for any one person to know. Even Linus Torvalds is not a guru in the casual sense.

But in its precise definition, e.g. "A leader in a particular field" or "A person who counsels or advises" (as per Dictionary.com), there are plenty that fit the bill.

Linus Torvalds can be considered a guru on the intricacies and know-how on kernel development. So can Alan Cox.

Bruce Schneier can be considered a guru on cryptography, while Richard Stallman (a technical wizard in his own right) can be considered a guru on the freedoms of software usage and its many implications.

The point is, gurus in the technical sense do exist. So if someone claims they are a guru, it is likely this person is referring to a particular area of their expertise, and not in the casual sense of the word.

ralemi 0 Newbie Poster

Very nice post.
I agree that pride is in contrast with the spirit of open source, so most of us would prefer to stay humble and not to consider ourselves special in the context of Linux community.

As far as the definition of Guru goes, I remember the phrase "an educated person is one who has learned how to learn".

one last thing, it seems to me that English is not the first language of your Guru. may be he just doesn't know what it really means, and therefore doesn't mean to set a level for himself.

babystrangeloop 2 Newbie Poster

11. Spends time wondering why command completion is in TOPS-20, Cisco IOS, BSD, GNU Hurd and Linux while CTRL/T for status information is in TOPS-20, Cisco IOS, BSD, GNU Hurd but not Linux. I.e. why did they keep one tradition and drop the other?

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