Using *Nix Makes Me a Better Windows Sysadmin

Yes, you read the title correctly. Using *nix operating systems has indeed made me a better Windows sysadmin. It shouldn't be all too surprising, especially since the proclamation years ago that Microsoft <3s Linux, and I don't think systems administration should be played as an either/or game between Windows and Linux environments. There is so much that we Windows sysadmins can gain by taking deep dives into *nix operating systems as part of a healthy production environment.

My experience with Ubuntu Server has made the biggest impact to me as a Windows sysadmin. In Windows environments, I'd grown accustomed to having the desktop experience (GUI) as the primary mode of getting everything done. Need to run an application? Click around. Need to set up a service to start automatically? Click around. Granted, with Windows Server OSes there is a headless (Core) option, but let's be honest and admit that probably none of us use it because it feels weird. In Ubuntu Server however, headless is your only option by default unless you spend literal hours installing a GUI for it. In Ubuntu Server, you. have. to. learn. to. use. the. command. line. 

Familiarizing myself with bash to get everything done has made me much more proficient and comfortable with PowerShell in Windows. Not having a pretty desktop experience to hold my hand through everything has made me legitimately prefer to use a CLI when I feel like it's going to save time. ...and quite often it really does save me time. (Doesn't hurt that bash commands make appearances in PowerShell as aliases for cmdlets that do the same things.)

Open source tools have also brought me a lot more joy than proprietary tools have, for the most part. Now there are some Windows admin tools like PDQ that I will never give up... but diving into the realm of FOSS has given me so many options that run on *nix as well as Windows. I've seen a lot of other Windows admins complain that FOSS usually takes too much time to set up and customize, but I really don't find that to be the case. I love highly-customizable software, and by its very nature, open source software can be customized as much as I want it to be. FOSS options seem to save me more time in the end because I don't need to wait until I get a quote from a vendor, then approve the quote after getting the go-ahead to spend a chunk of our budget, and then wait an arbitrary length of time for them to send back download and installation instructions, and I don't need to worry about licensing.

Of course, it's not like I run an environment without any closed-source, licensed software... But knowing how to better utilize the command line, builtin tools, and FOSS helps make the pill of licensing go down a bit easier on the rare occasion that a paid solution is the best solution.

So, TL;DR...

*Nix systems have absolutely made me a better Windows sysadmin. I don't feel pressured to choose closed-source, paid software if it's not the right fit even though it has the illusion of being easier to set up. I can find open source software options for Windows now just as easily as I can in *nix. Comfort and familiarity with bash has also renewed my love for PowerShell scripting for the Windows side of my environment... and it's given me a deeper appreciation for CLIs of all stripes to get tasks done in less time than I'd be able to do with a GUI. There are exceptions, of course, but getting to know *nix better has opened up so much more potential and functionality in Windows, and I'm a better sysadmin for it.