Exploring the Potential and Future of Ubuntu Server With Jay LaCroix
In this article, we’ll interview Linux expert Jay LaCroix about his passion for Ubuntu servers, his journey to his YouTube channel, and his recent book.
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Ubuntu Server has taken data centers around the world by storm. Whether you're deploying Ubuntu for a large-scale project or for a small office, it is a stable, customizable, and powerful Linux distribution with innovative and cutting-edge features.
Ubuntu is a fantastic platform on which to build your servers -- Jay LaCroix
Let's explore the journey of Jay LaCroix, the author of Mastering Ubuntu Server, Third Edition, and get some insights on the potential and future of Ubuntu Server and his YouTube channel – LearnLinuxTV.
1. Where does Ubuntu stand among its competitors like Red Hat Linux, Windows Server, etc.?
Red Hat provides a stable foundation on which to build your servers, and the distribution is rock-solid and dependable. Ubuntu is also stable and dependable as well, but in addition to that, it also empowers developers as well. Canonical seems to understand that simply providing a server distribution isn’t enough, developers and system administrators need to be empowered with tools they can use to be a key part of the overall process. Canonical adds additional layers that are of benefits, such as snap packages empowering developers to create cross-distribution install packages, and the ability for system administrators to deploy LXD containers that contain features beyond LXC. Ubuntu gives us everything other enterprise Linux distributions provide, plus many additional benefits.
Windows Server is in an interesting place – there are companies that depend on it, but its relevance is declining. Windows Server's market share has slipped to just 27.1% (w3techs). The industry has clearly shifted toward UNIX and Linux. Ubuntu is a fantastic platform on which to build your servers.
2. What are some of the popular myths around Ubuntu servers prevalent in the tech market?
The biggest myth I see is some people in the industry feel as though Canonical (the company that develops Ubuntu) is creating solutions that are anti-competitive. On the contrary, Canonical provides an amazing distribution and empowers developers with great tooling they can use to ease application deployment and manage servers better. Snap packages, for example, keep applications separate from system packages which increase stability and makes it much easier for companies to target Linux in general when publishing applications. LXD gives us a container platform in the style of virtualization, with great clustering and storage options. Canonical has done quite a bit to empower businesses and users alike. Ubuntu gives us the strengths of Debian, without the weaknesses, with additional value added on.
3. What is the biggest change/improvement an organization experiences after adapting to the Ubuntu server?
Honestly, the change an organization might experience after migrating to Ubuntu Server depends on the organization - each have their own goals to solve. Assuming that an organization is currently utilizing Windows servers, migrating to Ubuntu's platform will see them save a great deal of money from licensing costs while giving them full control over their environment instead of suffering from vendor lock-in. While no migration is free, and all changes cost a business something in terms of work hours for the migration and project management tasks, organizations will see cost-savings and an increase in ownership over their stack and technologies.
4. What are the future advancements that you anticipate in the Ubuntu server?
The next LTS will see Active Directory support, so organizations that plan to continue to use Windows Server in some form or fashion will see greater interoperability between the platforms. This support is already present in the intermediary releases of Ubuntu, so implementation in the next release is a given. Support for ZFS has been included in Ubuntu Server for quite some time now, but not recommended yet for production use. I predict that by the time the new LTS release of Ubuntu is out, that this will be ready for prime-time. In that case, storage options for organizations will increase quite a bit. I'm sure there are many more improvements coming, and we'll see more hints this year in regards to what’s coming.
Never stop! Always keep reading and learning.
5. What should aspiring sysadmins and DevOps professionals keep in mind while starting their careers?
6.You have a Linux-focused YouTube channel, LearnLinuxTV, with over 150K+ followers and 13.5M+ views. How has that journey been so far?
The growth has been incredible. The growth is so rapid that the numbers I provide in an interview become stale by the time that interview is actually released. The journey has been an adventure for sure, I still can’t believe that something I created has had this big of an impact on people. It actually doesn't even feel like reality to me at all. I create the content, put it out there, and then I’m constantly surprised by how far it spreads and how much it’s impacted people.
The channel itself was more or less an accident, at first. I remember creating a Linux-based gaming console and recording a video about it with a cheap point-and-shoot camera. From there, I decided to start teaching people what I knew about Linux, and I kept reading and studying it myself. As my skills grew, I was able to create even more instructional content. My skill-level and the level of instruction kind of evolved side-by-side over the years.
Several years ago, I started to take it much more seriously and expand the channel beyond an amateur effort and attempted to create more professional content. I think I’ve finally achieved that, but there are still improvements to be made. And there doesn’t seem to be any shortage of things to talk about, not even close. I have a growing list of things to produce for the channel and it’s extremely fun.
My biggest challenge, for sure, was audio engineering and video editing. After all, I'm a Linux guy - I don't pretend to be an expert in configuring audio settings or editing video, I learned those things kicking and screaming. It took me a long time. But I actually enjoy those aspects too, now that I've learned a fair amount. Audio and video editing have become a part of the creative process for me, so I feel as though I’ve come to the other side on that.
The rise in the audience has been kind of awkward for me to navigate in real life. For example, I'll respond to a post in a Linux Facebook group, and my response will receive a lot of 'surprised' emoji reactions. I'll wonder why, or what I might've said to surprise people so much, then it dawns on me that they are giving the post surprised emojis because they recognize me from YouTube. I just never get used to that, people in the Linux community see me as a celebrity sometimes and I'm really not. I'm probably the most laid-back, socially awkward person you'll ever meet in real life.
7. Tell us about your recent book, Mastering Ubuntu Server, 3rd Edition. How does the new edition accommodate the changes in the server industry?
Mastering Ubuntu Server, 3rd Edition is a productivity-focused book, that teaches the reader all the essential skills they need to know in order to work on real servers, while at the same time introducing projects throughout the chapters that will enable the reader to feel as though they've actually accomplished something. The focus was for it to become the book I wish I had when I first started, and to encourage the reader to empower them rather than it being simply a dry resource to memorize.
The server industry has seen a dramatic shift into the cloud, with a greater focus on automation and reproducibility. The new edition of the book features a chapter on containerization with Kubernetes, as well as a walk-through on spinning up Ubuntu servers in Amazon Web Services, which will surely prove to be a great resource on coming up to speed with the new direction of the industry.
Jay LaCroix was born in Lapeer Michigan and is a technologist, geek, and Linux enthusiast. With over 16 years of experience in Linux and Open-source, Jay enjoys passing his knowledge on to others and does so in the form of published books as well as his Youtube channel, LearnLinux.tv. Beyond Linux, Jay also has extensive experience with DevOps, Network/Server administration, configuration management, virtualization, and much more. In his spare time, he enjoys photography, music, retro gaming, and martial arts.
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