Do We Need to Learn Linux?

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This week we got an announcement about SQL Server in Containers. Microsoft put out a blog noting that the beta program for SQL Server on Windows containers is suspended. They didn't give any details, citing "ecosystem challenges and usage patterns" as a reason so suspend the program for the foreseeable future.

Not only that, they noted that they were deleting docker hub images for express and developer, which makes sense from their perspective. They don't want to support these. From the developer perspective, however, this will break and flow, pipelines, or even local scripts from developers. I understand the desire to delete images, but doing so without any notice doesn't seem like fair treatment for people using them.

This means that if you want to run SQL Server in a container in production, you likely have to use Linux. Windocks has an alternative with Windows, but Microsoft not supporting this is disappointing. I think that containers will be the future of database development, as they standardize and simplify how we can get an environment up and running. They also ensure consistent environments between developers, branches, automated systems and more. I think it's going to take years, but that's the direction where I think many of us will go over time. Those days of the Developer Edition will be gone, and instead we'll just run a container.

I've been using Linux containers for a few years, and they make it easy to quickly set up a clean environment with a new instance and a database or two. In that time, I've had to use a little Linux at times, but really, I start a container from a command line and then it acts like an instance I've installed. There isn't a reason to actually do much in Linux. At least not for the core database stuff. Most of the ways that you'll work with a Linux instance as a developer stay the same.

For system administrators and DBAs, however, you might need to learn more. While setting up an instance on Linux isn't hard, and easier in a container, if you are called on to work in bash, execute sudo, or some other Linux command, you might want some basic familiarity. Fortunately, you don't need another workstation as Windows 10 includes a Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) that let's you play around in Linux inside Windows 10.

I think Linux is fascinating, and it's evolved in many ways since I first saw it in 1991. Even if it's not something you expect to use daily, spending a few hours learning how to navigate around and get things done is good for your mind, forcing you to learn a bit. The San Diego TIG did a series a few years ago, and you might go through those meetings or pick up a book and spend some time playing around with something new. You never know when this might be required in your career and a little familiarity could give you a jump start in the future.

Do we need to learn Linux? No, but it's not a bad idea to build a few skills in this area.

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