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Ask Slashdot: What Should a Unix Fan Look For In a Windows Expert? 454

Posted by timothy
from the everyone-always-says-sense-of-humour dept.
andy5555 writes "I am hardcore Unix (and recently storage) fan responsible for our server department. Most of the servers run (you guessed it) different types of Unix. For quite a long time, Windows servers played very little role, but sometimes we get applications from our business departments which run only under Windows. So it seems that we have to take it seriously and hire a few Windows fans who would be able to take care of the (still small but growing) number of Windows servers. Since I am Unix fan, I have very little knowledge of Windows (some of my teammates may have more, but we are not experts). If I have to hire such a person I would like to find someone who is passionate about Windows. It is easy for me to recognize a Windows fan, but I don't know how to test his/her knowledge. There are some sites with typical Windows interview questions, but everybody can read them and prepare. How would you recommend the hiring process to proceed? What should I ask?"
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Ask Slashdot: What Should a Unix Fan Look For In a Windows Expert?

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  • by PizzaAnalogyGuy (1684610) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:00PM (#41183303)
    When looking for a Windows expert you have to look past the first appearance. I am a hardcore tomato sauce fan. And when I say hardcore, I mean it. Tomato sauce is the base of any pizza we all so like. But beyond that Windows admin can look almost anything, and still be completely usable. Just like your favorite pan pizza.

    The best way to illustrate differences between Windows and UNIX admins is the way they use space. The base of the system is usually laid out differently. In UNIX you have / whereas in Windows you use C:\ and other drive letters. It's like the difference between normal italian style pizza and american pan pizza.

    Let me tell you a story about a friend from my childhood. He loves Linux. You could say he is Linux power user. Back in the 90's I was over his apartment and we kept playing this Nintendo64 game called GoldenEye. It was awesome. Split-screen multiplayer and even while we could see each other, we still loved it. The levels were laid out beatifically and played out very nicely.

    But at some point you obviously become hungry. Then I got an idea.. "Let's call some pizzas over!", I uttered and tried to reach to the phone. However, it was way too far. I crashed down from the couch and now I was rolling around on the floor. My stomach was so big and soft that it kept me in motion and I rolled over the table where the telephone was, crashing it on the floor and breaking it. I said "damn it".. And we didn't get any pizza until we went out in the open. But we still did it, proudly. We were the goldeneye playing pizza bros!

    I think the main point is that whatever obstacles you may find with your new friend there is always way to get around them. With pizza.
  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:01PM (#41183321)

    I'm not sure how you should start the interview. But I'm pretty sure starting it off by taking a holier-than-thou condescending attitude towards anyone who would sully themselves by being a Windows server admin, and referring to them as a Windows "fan" instead of a Windows professional, is definitely the way to NOT start the interview.

    Believe it or not, there are plenty of professionals out there with significant admin experience with both Unix and Windows. Being a Windows professional doesn't make you some sort of dirt-eating Tauron, nor does it necessarily make you a "fan" who's chosen his side in some nerd-rage fight to the death.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:07PM (#41183411)

      ^This

      Also stay away from people who have all the certifications. It just means they went to the class and passed the tests which are pass/fail. Most of the tests are online (and a good source of questions btw).

      A good one to lead off if you are looking for a windows admin. Why would you use a workgroup vs a domain? How would you setup an active directory tree with 200 computers and 5 different departments?

      Also find someone who does both Linux and Windows. More than likely they will have to jump into your shoes when you are on vacation. Also loose the attitude. They are computers they get your job done. If you go into with that attitude they will resent you in under 2 months and be looking to get out. Do not create a we vs they in your office before you even hire the guy...

      • by JustOK (667959) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:39PM (#41183847) Journal

        Stay away from those that put emphasis on their certs.

      • by Genda (560240) <mariet&got,net> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:42PM (#41183869) Journal

        Ask a few network questions. Can you make a subnet? What's the difference between a tree and a forest? AD is important, what UI tool do you use to manage it and you may want to ask a few questions around permissions, and security. As the parent said, you can find them online. Certs are fine, but make certain the candidate actually wen to a real school to get training and not some cert factory. A bit of Cisco education is also useful as a side with your Windows main course. For sure they should have a clue about Linux and BSD (if you get someone who can do Solaris and another *nix flavor or two all the better.) They should have more than a passing understanding of Windows 7, maybe XP (depending on how many XP diehards in your environment.) If they are already playing with Win 8, you have ago getter. Server 2008 for sure. Perhaps Server 2003. You can ask about virtualization, powershell, net tools, command line interface, its all good. A well rounded engineer will know Exchange, SQL Server, .Net, Sharepoint (she said with a pained grimace), and Outlook.

        Contact a local IT company that does windows and ask them how they hire their guys.

        • by raddan (519638) *
          In my opinion, someone who knows their way around the various interoperability issues with Windows/UNIX is what you really should be asking for. Some things are easy (did you know that Active Directory offers LDAP and Kerberos services?), but other things are harder (domain trusts with non-Windows machines). Somebody who has experience integrating Samba with a fairly recent Windows domain will tend to have a pretty good idea how the entire ecosystem works.

          I am also biased, because I am a programmer, bu
      • As someone who just finished an MS cert bootcamp in May, I'd say you may want to reconsider your stance. The days of the Paper MCSE seem to be going by the wayside. I did the Windows 7 Enterprise Admin course (MCITP) which is a split course.

        The first part is "Configuring Windows 7", which ends with a certification exam (Microsoft Certified technical specialist, Configuring Windows 7.) I'll admit, I went into it without studying as hard as I could have, mostly because I had the attitude of "Ooooooh, Configuring Windows 7. I hope they don't ask me where the *Control Panel* is..." When I took the exam, I was promptly blown out of the water, and ended up retaking just to pass. They're pushing Branch Cache very heavily, and they expected some reasonable experience configuring WSUS via GPO.

        Now, neither of those are shocking technologies, but they're definitely a *huge* step up in how they're treating the 'entry' exams. They seem to be making a big effort (according to the guy that ran the course, the questions have been changing since the start of the year) at getting away from "memorize the question, get the answer down to a 50/50, and guess your way in."

        I'm not ashamed to admit that I failed the 60-686 exam for MCITP and still need to take it. Out of 11 people who took the course, all of us took the 60-680 MCTS exam, and 7 of us took either the 60-686 and 60-685 exam (combine course). I was the only one who passed *any* of the exams. We had some fairly sharp people, and the common theme was that we were all sorta surprised at how tough the exams were.

        Just my two cents, maybe we were all just a class full of derps.

        • by Sir_Sri (199544) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:32PM (#41184533)

          This is because we've started teaching these things in 1 and 2 year trade school /college programmes where you can get various certs at the end. The quality of the people and training is going up, and the tests can now actually be more than laughably basic stuff.

          The windows ecosystem is huge, mind bogglingly so. If you're going to look for a 'windows server' guy you really need to know what you want them to do. Is this a server to support desktops? A web server? Some cloud thing - if so there are a lot of different specializations here. If you want someone with a background in infosec you might be looking at having multiple people.

          maybe we were all just a class full of derps.

          That used to be the case. If you had (or have) brains you take comp sci, software eng or computer engineering. Everyone else is in the IT guy certifications stream which, lets face it, is one tier of people down on average, usually the top people in the certs stream should really be in comp sci, and the bottom people in comp sci should be in the IT side of things. The problem is that for a long time the IT stream attracted script kiddies out of highschool who played video games on windows and they were basically the only people who knew *anything* about windows so they could get a job. The world has moved on though. If you're going to deploy clients to 200 machines, and then manage all of their licences, sharepoint install, active directory, etc. you really do need a lot more than just 'windows is fun'. At that point windows isn't fun, windows is an expertise you have and that expertise has little to no connection to any 'fun' you might have with windows.

          The certifications are supposed to be the minimum level of competence you'd expect out of someone with little to no experience. Believe it or not you do want people with the certifications (or equivalent) so you know they didn't just 'manage' their 200 machines individually and were actually aware of the enterprise product tools. Someone fresh out of a 1 year college course with an MCSE is about what you'd expect for someone one year out of highschool who can prove they paid attention in class. They're way better than someone with no training at all, but there's a lot of experience to had still.

          P.S. I think you mean the 70-686 exam, I believe the 60 series was for vista and is long long long gone.

      • by joelleo (900926) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:56PM (#41184057)

        I have to disagree with those asserting *snicker* certs are worthless. Take them into consideration, but validate that they know what they certified on. They don't "just mean they went to the class and passed the tests" they can actually validate real world experience with the tools and environments, but that needs to be _proven_ to the interviewer. The best way to do this is to sit them in front of a computer that has access to a test environment and tell them to do stuff and see how they perform. Admittedly, this requires an understanding of what they are doing on the interviewer's part, but to completely exclude a large swath of potential candidates because of someone's misinformed perception of certifications would be a misstep, in my opinion.

        • by rk (6314) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:08PM (#41184895) Journal

          I've always been leery of certifications provided by a vendor for their products. While I recognize that they might want to have their certs viewed as something more than worthless and be sure the people getting them really knew their stuff, they also have a vested interest in having as many people as possible can get those certifications so that when they roll into a new customer's offices they can say "and finding people to work with this is easy because there are umpteen thousand people who are Certified Widget Engineers!" This conflict of interest just makes me nervous.

          FWIW, I don't rule out someone based on certifications, or education for that matter. I really hire people on the basis of are they motivated, self-starting people with an interest in the work? Even if the tech skills aren't an exact match, I tend to have less problems with those sorts of people as their work ethic and enthusiasm usually quickly compensates for knowledge deficiencies.

          • by Kalriath (849904)

            That's not necessarily true that they want as many as possible. For the Microsoft Certified Master/Architect tracks for example, there are so few of them in the entire world that Microsoft can list them all by name on one page [microsoft.com], and most of them are marked with affiliation "Microsoft". This is probably because the exam isn't some theory on paper but a huge practical lab exercise, similar to CCIE (which are again rare).

            (Amusingly, GoDaddy is one of the few companies in the US with SQL Server MCMs)

      • by LordLimecat (1103839) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @08:42PM (#41185875)

        Why would you use a workgroup vs a domain?

        Workgroup
        When you cant afford a server license.
        Domain
        When you can afford a server license.

        (Bonus: Always, because inter-computer trust relationships actually work with some degree of reliability once a domain is set up.)

        Do I win a prize?

    • by sortius_nod (1080919) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:08PM (#41183421) Homepage

      I am one of them. At work, I administer Windows servers, at home, I run Linux servers. I have had experience working with both in various environments, from small companies to large media organisations, & I don't think I've ever seen someone as less of a person because they can't administer *nix or Windows servers.

      If I was to be interviewed by a condescending arshole like the OP, I'd walk out of the interview. Working for someone who looks down on you for having greater knowledge than them is far from ideal.

      Let's face it, because the OP doesn't know how to administer both *nix & Windows, that makes them less of an admin than someone who does. Not only do they need to find someone, they need to pay someone who knows how to interview for the role.

      The first thing I learnt in admin/support is that if you specialise, you limit your options, for both solutions & future employment.

      • by justforgetme (1814588) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:33PM (#41183799) Homepage

        I fully agree with you on the attitude part.

        On the decision part I'm not so sure. I mean sure you will limit yourself if you are going to only look for admin jobs on a specific OS but the truth is that the extent of a sysadmin's or opadmin's responsibilities will limit your specialization automatically through the passage of time. Sure for entry/mid level positions you don't have a problem, most of your responsibilities can be brushed over in an afternoons reading, but for high end/profile positions your chances are with a specialized attitude rather with the jack of al trades attitude.

        Surely these are only my personal opinions, other people might disagree.

      • > The first thing I learnt in admin/support is that if you specialise, you limit your options, for both solutions & future employment.
        It's not so black and white. If you don't specialise, you're equivalent to a younger guy who asks for less and seems more ready for the next "tech flavor of the month" which managers like soo much, it lets them spit the right techno-babble at meetings.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:10PM (#41183459)

      If you read the OP, you will see that he calls himself a Unix fan in the first sentence. I'm not sure how this translates into a holier-than-thou attitude---it sounds to me more like a welcoming environment, where people are fans of particular types of technologies.

    • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:13PM (#41183519) Journal

      Actually, eliminating candidates that are so full of themselves that they object to being called a "fan" would be a great way to conduct the interview.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by devilspgd (652955)

        Sure, go ahead and hire someone who thinks of themselves as a "fan" instead of a "professional" and see how that goes.

        In fact, why not mock all of your potential candidates to see how they handle abuse and only hire people who "pass"?

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192)

          This is exactly what I'm talking about. Anyone who considers being referred to as a "fan" as mockery is too fragile to work with.

    • by mykroft42 (831331) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:13PM (#41183527) Homepage
      I'm confused? The OP repeatedly refers to himself as a unix "fan". Clearly he doesn't intend the term as an insult. Unless you think the OP is some sort of "dirt-eating Tauron" himself. I think you're just trying to create a fight no one was looking for.
    • by black6host (469985) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:16PM (#41183569)

      Believe it or not, there are plenty of professionals out there with significant admin experience with both Unix and Windows. Being a Windows professional doesn't make you some sort of dirt-eating Tauron, nor does it necessarily make you a "fan" who's chosen his side in some nerd-rage fight to the death.

      Most definitely. I was a server admin for clients of mine who were too small to have one full time. Ran Linux on my own desktop, also had Windows and Linux servers running on different machines. I could deal with either. I wasn't a "fan" of anything. I was a professional who took care of my clients. Unix, Linux, Windows, it didn't matter. What mattered was my knowledge and making whatever they had chosen to run work. And work well.

      As far as how to gauge their skills.... You won't be able to, as the good ones will know more than you do. Pay attention to what they have done in the past, contact their previous employers. Certs don't mean much, I've run across a few that didn't know anymore than was needed to pass the tests.

      Maybe pose problems in a Linux domain that you are familiar with, ask them how they would handle that in Windows. Ask them to explain how it works differently from what you're doing. Ask them general security questions that should be known by all server admins. Firewalls, etc.

      If you're in charge, you need to be able to assess their work. And that depends on the type of Win servers you're going to run. Outward facing? Database? In-house application only?

      So much depends on what the servers do. Someone may be a great domain admin, but suck at the database side of things.

      I know, not much help. But please don't call them "fans" :)

      • Sorry, read Linux instead of Unix. Same principles apply though.

        Best answer I can give you: if you're good enough, you'll be able to tell if they're good enough. When I talk to someone I have a pretty good feel if they're as good at their job as I am at mine. Got a carpenter buddy. He's a damn fine one. I'm not, but I still know he is.......

    • by multimediavt (965608) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:24PM (#41183665)

      I'm not sure how you should start the interview. But I'm pretty sure starting it off by taking a holier-than-thou condescending attitude towards anyone who would sully themselves by being a Windows server admin, and referring to them as a Windows "fan" instead of a Windows professional, is definitely the way to NOT start the interview.

      Believe it or not, there are plenty of professionals out there with significant admin experience with both Unix and Windows. Being a Windows professional doesn't make you some sort of dirt-eating Tauron, nor does it necessarily make you a "fan" who's chosen his side in some nerd-rage fight to the death.

      I wholeheartedly agree. As someone that has worked supporting several flavors of *nix, and versions of both Windows and Mac OS server (and client) systems I would say that the OPs environment is hostile based on the description. It's certainly not an environment that I would recommend to any of my Windows Server admin colleagues to walk into. There is little place for that kind of "I-only-work-with-Unix-and-the-rest-is-beneath-me" attitude. Personal preference is fine, zealotry is not, especially when in conflicts with the needs of others or is used as a weapon.

      Now, if you want a quality Windows admin you look for the same things you look for in any admin; experience, education and certifications, in that order. I know plenty of enthusiastic Windows "fans" that are NOT admin material. Liking something (fan) and having a deep understanding of something (professional) are completely different things. If you don't know what to ask then you have clearly not done your needs requirements for the position and should not even advertise the job until you do. This process will not only help you define the requirements for the position, clearly define the roles and responsibilities (and overlaps for support coverage) it will educate those involved in the process as to what to look for in a candidate. It may also be helpful to contact your Microsoft representative, not only to assist in your edification, but to help define the scope of what you may need. That's what a professional would do over just a "fan".

    • by drolli (522659)

      He also calls himself a 'fan'. I am not exacltly sure what the means.

      I appreciate some properties of Linux, i appreciate some properties of windows and i appreciate(ted) some properties of solaris.

      The important part is never to forget which properties of which OS which you do not appreciate are conflicting with the task at hand.

      I suggest to ask them about the stragtegy of decisions and see if that is compatible with the way the rest of the shop is being run.

    • "Fan" is wrong. "Hostage" is the right word. Enjoy re-learning basic stuff just to get your win8 systems going, and pray for good plugins to read newer formats on winxp vista workstations with office. And ask for more money than the unix admins. They keep typing ls -l as they did on the VAX of the university when they were 30 years younger, those lazy hippies.

      There are 2 categories of operating systems. First kind: the pc is the territory, the objective is ownership of the territory, the OS is one of the we

    • I do think that "fan" is probably not the term to use, but he's clearly not using it to be snobby - he refers to himself as a Unix "fan" as often as he says "Windows fan."

      Basically, chill, the only rage here is yours.

    • by Spazmania (174582) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @06:27PM (#41185073) Homepage

      For better or for worse I think you have stumbled not on a condescending attitude but on a difference between *nix and Windows admins.

      The OP *enjoys* administering Linux servers. It's fun for him. Not in a professional my job is satisfactory way but in an I just played ball with my buddies and had a blast way. And in a classic feedback loop, he's good at it because he enjoys it because he's good at it.

      He's looking for someone who feels that way about running Windows servers. Someone who feels that way about Windows will fit well into his team while filling the technical need. The stodgy "Windows Professional" capital P may meet the technical need but he won't integrate well into the team.

  • by X0563511 (793323) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:04PM (#41183377) Homepage Journal

    Timothy, go to your room! Don't come down until you've thought about what you've done!

  • Stop posting so much stuff inside parenthesis! If it's a complete thought, just make another sentence. It's not difficult.

  • by jimmifett (2434568) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:09PM (#41183435)

    Someone who has exp with multiple versions of windows servers. 2000 is a good cutoff point. They should understand Active Directory. Thoroughly. If doing anything web based, know about asp and .net configurations, as well as how to use the new (awful) IIS manager. If storing dll components for software over the network (including aforementioned web based stuff), they should know about permissions hassles of trusting policies from network drives.

    Exchange and or MS SQL experience is also a plus, but only if the windows boxes will be running them.

    • by ZeroPly (881915) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:20PM (#41184375)
      I can honestly say I'm familiar with every technology you mentioned, but I would still be unqualified for a job running Windows servers. There's a big difference between these two interview questions:

      "How long have you been using Microsoft SQL?"
      "How would you write a query in SSMS 2005 that pulls data from an Access database on a different server?"

      Unless you actually had some background, you wouldn't know to ask the second question, which would give you a lot more information. I'm only using SQL as an example, the same would apply with AD or Exchange server management.

      One possibility - hire a consultant to sit in on the interviews. You evaluate the general technical skills and personality, the consultant probes the specific Windows technical skills.
      • by jbplou (732414)

        while I could answer your second question I think there are plenty of good Windows Server Administrators who could not. That type of questioning is more for a DBA or a developer type than a server administrator at any of the places I have worked

  • Wrong approach (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdastrup (1075795) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:09PM (#41183445)
    The answers I ask when hiring a system admin are typically not OS or vendor specific. I'd rather have someone intelligent and clever, who can then pick up any technology thrown at them. This philosophy has worked incredibly well. But, if you want someone that has memorized the MCSE tests, then ask the Windows-specific questions. But when it comes to troubleshooting or real-world environments, you have no guarantees.
    • Wrong answer (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      By this logic, any of the current Unix experts they employ would also be the right people for the Windows server support, yet clearly they already know that isn't the solution. Here the OS distinction matters, because they want to hire based on that distinction (and for good reason). If you're hiring your first admin, you might want them to use any technology thrown at them. By the time you employ several experts in one area but lack experts in a new area, you're better off getting people with expertise

    • I was going to post to make sure they're comfortable in a command shell otherwise they'll never write a batch script, which is the quickest easiest way to automate stupid simple admin stuff; but you're right, screw the technology specifics. Perhaps just throwing at them software configuration scenarios and seeing how well they can troubleshoot through a piece of misbehaving software they're unfamiliar with would be good. Perhaps give them some UI controlled *nix software they're completely unfamiliar with w
  • by slapout (93640) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:11PM (#41183479)

    Ask him about a Windows problem. If he says "Have you tried turning it off and back on again", hire him.

  • by jimicus (737525) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:11PM (#41183483)

    There's plenty of Windows people who know how to click "Next... Next... Next..." but no more than this.

    Well and good if that's all you need, but you'll get someone a lot more productive if they know a bit of Powershell, VBS and batch scripting.

  • Ask Slashdot: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by InlawBiker (1124825)

    : Are all these "stories" posed as questions really fooling anybody? I see less and less interesting news and more stories designed purely to provoke chatter. Oh boy, Unix vs Windows should get lots of posts! Maybe next time you can work Apple in there too.

    It's like the blogger feedback ploy - end your crappy blog with a question and more people will respond.

    • by Revotron (1115029)
      Your comment isn't getting any replies. Perhaps try closing with a personalized question - like, "Does ending YOUR crappy blog with a question get more people to respond?" That will help you to facilitate enhanced social media 2.0 engagement and boost your Klout score!
    • by rsborg (111459)

      : Are all these "stories" posed as questions really fooling anybody? I see less and less interesting news and more stories designed purely to provoke chatter. Oh boy, Unix vs Windows should get lots of posts! Maybe next time you can work Apple in there too.

      It's like the blogger feedback ploy - end your crappy blog with a question and more people will respond.

      Are you new here? Slashdot invented this kind of blog entry.

  • knowledge... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Ask him if he know:

    1) How to use regedit.exe
    2) What is a GPO
    3) DCOM
    4) WMI(this shit will help a lot if you need his help on monitoring)
    5) WSUS, ISA and PowerShell
    --- and you will obtain a medium-level professional --

    And will filter 80% of the Windows guys on your "audition"

    • Ask him if he know:

      hey, I know what those are, enough to BS a unix guy, and I'm a unix guy.

      And will filter 80% of the Windows guys on your "audition" :headpalm:

  • Concepts (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Spad (470073) <slashdot&spad,co,uk> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:16PM (#41183565) Homepage

    Find someone who understands how things work & why they work; there are tens of thousands of Windows admins with MCSE (now MCITP) grade qualifications who don't actually understand why they do any of the things they do, just that Action A fixes Problem B. Also, find someone who can script - Powershell preferably, but VBS if you have to - as a lot of Windows admins are far too reliant on the GUI which can obviously slow them down a lot for some types of tasks.

    Don't bother asking questions to test Windows "knowledge" because they don't really tell you much about the person's ability, just their memory. Give them scenarios you've encountered with your Windows estate and ask them how they'd deal with them; you don't even really need to know that much about Windows yourself to be able to judge answers to those kinds of questions and they give you a much better idea of how well the person actually understands Windows, which is much more important than reciting the FSMO roles or knowing how to do an Authoritative Restore.

  • Unix sysadmin (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jonner (189691) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:17PM (#41183587)

    Find someone who is competetent at Unix system administration and willing to learn. Regardless of current Windows knowledge, it's more likely she will be able to learn the nuances necessary in a heterogenous environment than the average Windows admin.

    • Re:Unix sysadmin (Score:5, Interesting)

      by undeadbill (2490070) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:28PM (#41183737)

      This comment is spot on. I work in a heterogeneous shop, and our best results have been in training a Unix admin to take on additional Windows roles. It isn't just about being good at Windows, there are plenty of Windows professionals who can fulfill that role as a consultant or FTE. The problem is finding one who can integrate Windows environments to work well with your existing Unix infrastructure, much of which probably doesn't need to be duplicated under a separate Windows domain. To do that well, you need someone with a deep Unix background as well as the Windows training.

    • I concur.
      You will likely need integration or migration so the unix skill set will be more important. Find a good unix person - you know unix you don't know windows.

      Try to find somebody who is willing to learn it and simply give them time to get trained on it themselves (plus a budget for books or whatever.) Somebody who likes working around proprietary linux drivers and other black box trouble makers will be somewhat prepared. Besides, if you chuck the windows boxes someday you have a unix admin and not s

  • Simple (Score:2, Interesting)

    by V!NCENT (1105021)

    1. Kernel name of Windows 7 (NT6.1);
    2. Why is file transfer since Vista so slow (introduction of user space driver)
    3. Why is Windows 7 faster than Vista (it is not; gui has higher sceduling priority)
    4. How much more ram does Vista consume, compared with XP? (wrong; it's less, but why?; Vista caches like preload).
    5. Is NT POSIX compliant? Since when and how?
    6. What is the main difference between the TCP/IP stack in XP and Vista, other than IPv6?
    7. What compiler does Microsoft use, to compile Windows? (not th

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by VortexCortex (1117377)

      No mention of Powershell? No mention of rolling out software / updates / OS images / workgroups / booting from the net / roaming accounts / mounted shares / active directory? Yeah, that's a useless list of BS you posted, primarily focused on irrelevant client side crap -- I mean: Drag and Drop File Transfer Speeds? YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG.

      That, or it was meant to be funny. If it was, you're trolling pretty hard.

      • by Prune (557140)
        > No mention of Powershell?

        Are you fucking blind? From GP's post:

        > 8. Ask something about Powershell

        How could that have been made any more obvious? Are you sure you're qualified to be posting here?
    • Re:Simple (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:10PM (#41184249)

      I don't know any of your questions and I've been installing and maintaining a Windows server farm with 600-800 standalone Windows servers and clusters from Windows 2000 to Windows 2008 R2 for at least 10 years. Your questions are test level, not real administration and engineering level. Should you know about SMBv2 and potential conflicts with a WAN accelerator? If it is in your environment, yes. The kernel name of Windows 7? Who gives a shit. That's a test question that has no impact on anything you will encounter.

  • This is cruel, but (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rickb928 (945187) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:24PM (#41183675) Homepage Journal

    You will be faced with a lot of candidates. After you've culled the ones with actual experience and positive or neutral recommendations, this is where you can start in phone interviews:

    1. Ask them to describe DHCP. An amazing number of candidates will not do well with this. Extra points for the ones who can expand slightly and describe the implications of static addressing, but they are probably older than you are l;ooking for, despite the blatant discrimination that implies. Deduct for those who treat this question with disdain - they are perhaps being too imperious to get along, and getting along is second only to knowing stuff. Maybe more important.

    2. Ask them to discuss Active Directory design from a high level, the forest and trees, for example. Big points if they ask about your current structure. More points if they discuss the disadvantages of ripping up your current directory. Deduct points for those who seem to use an axe in the forest. You willl know.

    3. Ask them about roaming profiles. No, you aren't using them, but you're interested in both their general reaction and their questions about why you are asking at all. Deduct points here for those who go 'poo-poo' and describe their loathing for roaming profiles. More deductions for focusing on the limitations.

    4. Did any of them ask about your environment? Did any of them perk up at the mention of Linux? Did any of them expand unprovked about Windows' servers potential for integration with a Linux enviuronemnt? More points to these. Fewer points to those who are not at all curious about yoru Linux environment, and how you got saddled with some mongrel Windows severs in the mix.

    I would be very interested in this position if it is in the Phoenix area, but I love my pool, and besides, you already know me too well. Ah.

  • by Danzigism (881294) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:25PM (#41183683)
    I disagree with those who say you should "stay away" from people with certifications. Perhaps that was true in the MCSE days because anybody could get one, but the competency tests they have nowadays are very thorough and are geared towards one specific subject. Therefore if the person has several of those competencies they probably know what the hell they're talking about such as Server Platform, Hosting, Mobility, Management and Virtualization, etc. You just have to look at what tests they have passed and whether or not it is relevant to what you need. I've seen pseudo experienced Windows Server Admins with no certifications or any clue how to apply MS best practices completely destroy a server. Like not using proper document redirection or storing user data from a Terminal Server stored on the C drive, etc.

    I've never been one to prefer MS servers, but you are correct, sometimes it is essential when you deal with clients that use certain line of business applications and it really helps to get a technician that is familiar with administrative best practices. You also tend to learn more about how to use MS products in a business environment when you take the cert tests and how to sell their products. It's not just turning the server on and screwing around with stuff until everything works. You will save yourself time and money when you get a guy that can get the work done quickly.
    • Certifications don't mean you're unskilled, but they definitely don't mean you know your ass from a hole in the ground. I know two people with full MCITP:EA certs, that when asked to debug a kernel dump, they look at me and inquire as to how in the fuck they can do that when they're clearly not programmers. Likewise, the most certified person at my last job destroyed an Exchange '07 environment when a .NET update slowed down OWA, and rather than uninstalling said update, he decided that deleting the .NET c
    • Bah, ugly formatting, sorry for double reply.

      Certifications don't mean you're unskilled, but they definitely don't mean you know your ass from a hole in the ground. I know two people with full MCITP:EA certs, that when asked to debug a kernel dump, they look at me and inquire as to how in the fuck they can do that when they're clearly not programmers. Likewise, the most certified person at my last job destroyed an Exchange '07 environment when a .NET update slowed down OWA, and rather than uninstalling said

  • I kid. Seriously, ask them about generic networking and server stuff (hw/sw) see if they can do some minor unix stuff. If you need specific skills (hpc/san) ask about that.

    The problem is not necessarily platform for most people, it's understanding of IT concepts
      in general.

    Also, make sure they can script and do basic stuff on command line

  • by bertok (226922) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:32PM (#41183791)

    As inane as the question is, I can think of a pretty good answer: ask if they like PowerShell!

    It tests several things that someone from a UNIX background would want to see in a Windows administrator: it shows that they like CLI and automation, it shows that they're up-to-date with Windows technology, and it shows that they prefer the "UNIX way". That last may seem counter-intuitive, but PowerShell follows the UNIX philosophy better than any flavor of Linux or UNIX I've ever seen. A Windows administrator that likes PowerShell is the kind of administrator that a UNIX administrator can get along with!

  • by ewilts (121990) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:36PM (#41183811) Homepage

    Whether it's Windows, Linux, VMS or ESXi doesn't really matter. The external differences boil down to syntax. If you find somebody who only knows the syntax, you're not going to be happy unless you're looking for a short term employee or contractor. You don't hire a Unix admin because he knows how to write a bash script - you find somebody who understands the importance of automation, the ability to document and test, and the ability to pick up new technologies. You know technology is changing so you need a person who can adapt. If you can troubleshoot the root cause of a system crash, it doesn't matter what OS you're working on and you'll pick up a different OS quickly. But hire an idiot that can't troubleshoot worth a darn and it doesn't matter if he's an RHCE, MCSE or VCP or holds all three.

    If you find somebody that can't tell the difference between they're, there, or their or between its and it's, he's not on the learning curve you need him to be on. It means that in 20 or 30 years, he still doesn't care about quality and is too lazy to look things up. Those aren't good combinations.

  • by conspirator23 (207097) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:36PM (#41183817)

    Religiosity in Operating Systems is a character flaw, not a strength. Clearly this is going to be a hard concept for you to work your head around because you yourself are evangelical about UNIX. If you find somebody who is evangelical about Windiows, you're basically asking for interpersonal conflict as this engineer with "passion" for Windows is going to feel outnumbered and isolated if your whole team uses emotional language like you do.

    What you' are REALLY looking for are skills and atrributes that are OS-agnostic while still demonstrating serious practical experience with Microsoft server products:

    • Does your candidate demonstrate an analytical, problem solving mindset?
    • Does your candidate show the ability to play nicely with others?
    • Does your candidate demonstrate a sense of personal accountability for the work that they do?

    If you don't feel comfortable saying "yes" to all the above questions, then all the nuts and bolts technical stuff means nothing. Once these fundamental questions have been answered, there are some specific technical avenues to explore with your future Windows sysadmin:

    • Ask them how familiar they are with Powershell, and see if they can cite examples of where they used Powershell to create a technical solution or make their jobs easier through automation.
    • Ask them if they have ever worked to integrate Active Directory with other LDAP sources

    There are a bunch of technical questions you probably need to ask that I can't possibly suggest to you, because I don't know the details of your envirionment. But these two are mandatory. Powershell is a scripting language developed to handle all kinds of administrative and automation needs for a system administrator, and it was written by two UNIX guys. If your future Windows admin understands and appreciates Powershell, they not only have a skillset that is going to be demonstratably useful in the future, they will be more likely to "think like a UNIX guy" than someone who went to an MSCE puppy mill. The AD/LDAP integration question is the one thing I know about your environment. If you're going to operate UNIX and Windows servers in the same ecossytem, some level of integration is inevitable and making sure the guy on the Windows end has the technical chops is essential.

  • Ask probing questions to ensure your candidate has thorough knowledge of the Hosts file. :-)

  • Before going into generalizations, it seems like the submitter realizes that they do not know enough about Windows. Given that, this whole discussion seems pretty irrelevant. The guy does not know Windows, so how is he going to know if the "Windows expert" is blowing smoke up his ass or not? He won't.

    With that out of the way...

    Just because a server runs Windows does not change the fact that it is a computer. There are some basic concepts that any sysadmin needs to have a handle on.

    Security
    Backup and Rec

  • Make sure candidates have a long experience with Windows. Writing scripts and monitoring/logging should have been used at work before.

    But, running software is no longer a job just at technical level. It's about understanding customer needs and also to some extent really know how applications work. If you get hold of well educated people, their grades will show how well they can relate to new stuff.

    And, stay away from people bragging their certification level. Certifications are not hard, just expensive. MCS

  • by gman003 (1693318) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @04:48PM (#41183957)

    A good Windows admin will "work around" the Windows-ism of it all and use the more UNIX-y features of it (they won't think of it that way, but they will). See how they are at whipping up quick VB or PowerShell scripts to do some little task (the same way you would whip up a Perl or Bash script). Check their problem-diagnosis skills - give them a hypothetical scenario (some weird proprietary service isn't starting at boot) and keep throwing up obstacles ("Guy: Well, I would check the services panel, make sure it was set to start automatically"; "You: Alright, you check that, and it is set to, but it's marked as 'stopped' and halts as soon as you try to start it"). Eventually he'll give up and say "there's obviously something wrong that's beyond my ability to fix, I would have to contact their support people", but see how many things he can think of to check. If he can think of a lot of ways something can go wrong, he likely has both experience and wisdom (unless he's rattling off bullshit, of course).

    Another thing to look at is his WindowsUNIX skills. I'm working on a project now that involves getting applications running on both to work with each other, and that's not easy. Having a Windows guy who can grok Unix-speak would definitely be a plus for you.

  • Do you have experience with Virus scanning programs such as Symantec, etc?

  • First - read all the posts about referring to someone as a "fan" - you definitely want a "professional"

    I would press the candidate on their understanding of the Active Directory Administrative and Security models. Have them explain to you how to use the native tools to ensure that configuration on servers and workstations is correct and centrally managed (via Group Policy). Have them explain how Group Policy works. Have them explain what Organizational Units are for and how delegation works in conjunctio
  • Specific skills with Windows is irrelevant, at least for the early resume/application-culling passes.

    Even more important than their skill level, experience, or schooling is the seemingly increasingly-rare ability to actually show up on time every day/shift to work, and work the entire day/shift.

    I would much rather hire someone who would need significant OJT than an "expert", if that "expert" had a history of missed work days and late arrivals to/early departures from work and the OJT candidate had a pristin

  • More specifically, "Do you know your place?"

  • What you really need is me, or rather someone just like me (unless you're in Pennsylvania). You don't want a hardcore Windows nerd, they will be angling to replace your Unix machines with Windows servers before a year is out. What you actually want is a *nix *fan*, but who has spent most of their time in Windows. You want them to have the skillset, but you really don't want someone who wholeheartedly endorses the company who practically invented "embrace, extend, extinguish".

  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy@tp n o - c o .org> on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:12PM (#41184275) Homepage

    Do you want someone who is passionate about windows, or a decent Windows Admin ( or indeed, a decent admin in general )?

    I'll tell you right now, I am always highly suspicious of any admin that is "passionate" about their subject matter. They tend to put their bias first, compromising their ability to deliver the best product available.

    The best admins I have ever worked with were technology agnostic; they chose the best tools for the job, regardless of their own preferences.

  • by ukemike (956477) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:14PM (#41184301) Homepage
    I have a window fan in my front room. I run it at night to pull cool air in through my bedroom and apartment. I'd recommend Lasko Reversible 2155, and put it in a window far from your bedroom and put in in exhaust mode. Close all the windows except your bedroom window and you'll have a nice cool night breeze coming in your window without the noise of a fan next to your bed.

    I can't for the life of me figure out why someone would need a server running Unix to operate a simple window fan. Am I missing something here?
  • by almitydave (2452422) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:20PM (#41184373)

    Make sure he can beat expert in less than 90 seconds. Only then can you be sure he has enough years of experience with Windows.

  • by Skuld-Chan (302449) on Thursday August 30, 2012 @05:37PM (#41184591)

    Ask them what kinds of scripting languages Windows supports (Powershell, VB, JS etc), what does WMI do? How would you deploy a printer using policies?

    A LOT of Windows admins know how to call for help and push buttons, but not so many know the backend stuff that makes Windows tick which is kinda invaluable as an admin.

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