• Introduction to the IT world

    Because of my job, I am in contact with dozens of people that on a daily basis ask me how they can start a career in IT or even how to understand if they are “cut for the job” or not.

    First of all,images I think that one of the most important things that an IT enthusiast or “wannabe” is the skill to teach themselves and to be curious about everything. IT is a big word that contains too many different aspects, jobs and roles to clearly and easily understand if you can cope with it, unless you try for yourself many times until you succeed.

    Do you want to be a programmer? A DB admin? Onsite engineer? No matter what is tickling inside yourself, you need to try it out and feel how it feels. Hands on experience is what will make you understand if you can make it (and keep it up) or not.

    When I was younger it was easier, as the lack of GUI gave you only one option: a command line. You liked the command line? Were you able to spend hours over hours without getting crazy or suffering from major headache? Then you can do it. No matter which area, you can do it. You will need to study, practice and bang your head against the screen, but you will make it.

    Modern OSes are quite user friendly and have become launchers for the software we need. There is not so much to tweak or modify (respect of what was the standard 20 – 25 years ago). Self healing systems, able to preserve your data and allowing a complete reimage in minutes is becoming common.

    A few years ago you had no Internet, no immediate way to ask for help, you had problems and you had to fix them. Alone. Yes, you had BBSes and networks like Fidonet to find information, but you needed the time and patience to wait for days for an answer (not always, but in many cases).

    So in these days I’ve stumbled across the Synchronet BBS software, that has been created in 1992 and it’s still under development and to be honest, it’s an amazing and impressive software that includes:

    1. BBS software

    2. Web server

    3. FTP server

    4. Telnet/SSH server

    5. IRC server

    6. Mail server (SMTP/POP3)

    7. Usenet Server (NNTP)

    There are even more servers, but those are the main ones. Basically you can install your copy of Synchronet and configure a Webserver, Mailserver, FTP server using just one platform.

    When I’ve seen this, I had to try to make it working on one of my RaspberryPi and this has been quite easy (as it’s just a matter of following the instructions to compile it from CVS.

    Then I had the pleasure to have to modify many text files, use a couple of text based GUIs and slowly see my BBS starting breath and live. I used to maintain a BBS in the 90’s so it has been quite easy to grasp the basics, however this software is not based on the Internet protocols (and supports the standard modem connections), so I had to read many guides and manuals, but now I have a the BBS up and running, together with the Mail, Web, IRC, Telnet, SSH and FTP servers. Now I’m going to create some ANSI art and see if I want to advert this BBS to the world…

    I’ve spent hours doing this, still using the command line, and enjoyed every moment of it. Therefore I thought that the next time asks me if IT is something that he/she could master, I will probably ask them to prepare a *nix machine and install Synchronet on it.

    You don’t know what Linux or a BBS is? You don’t know how to use the command line? You want to receive a perfect training on all these things? You are not the one for the job. Are you going to surf the Internet for hours, break your machines dozens of times, document what you’ve learned, call a friend on the other side of the planet to ask him how to do something and, most of all, are you going to read (and understand) the manual and the instructions?

    Welcome to IT.