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Welcome to SKILSTAK!#

Welcome to the SKILSTAK Learning Community!

You've reached the SKILSTAK knowledge base and home of the annual, rotating, crowd-sourced, live-streamed SKILSTAK Beginner Boost currently led by rwxrob. Here we document the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to get and maintain an amazing career in tech. Master, beginner, or just lurker, we do hope you will join us as we blow the doors off of traditional education paradigms and focus on skills-based tech learning with substance.

Pardon our plainness

Perhaps you have noticed how boring our web site is. It isn't flashy by design. In fact, most overly flashy things are usually pretty sus. Our priority is on searchable, mobile-friendly, dynamic content that supplements YouTube videos, live Twitch sessions, Discord channel discussions, and—most of all—your own notes and labs. Like tech, this stuff is always changing so please adjust your expectations to match. If you see something wrong, please let us know.

Want to help write these docs?

Take note of the icons on each page that allow you to contribute content to the docs yourself.

What have people said about Rob and SKILSTAK?#

There's no better marketing than word of mouth. In fact, since 2013 we've never needed to advertise. The first two community members were referrals from friends who were in tech and knew their kids needed to learn it. Since then, SKILSTAK has helped thousands to accomplish their learning and career goals.

Here's how one company representative described it in an email after hiring a community member with a 100,000 dollar starting salary:

Clearly, you have a talent for educating people in tech. ... After [your member's] success [here], I suspect the review team will be even more interested in picking up one or two of your students. We've had a lot of very bright interns from some of the top universities in the country and [your community member] was right in the mix with the best of them.

Rob met this person at a Linux meetup and introduced them to our community members.

How to get a job?

We talk about this a lot in the Boost. Getting hired is about building trust with potential employers by producing demonstratable, unique proof that you can produce what that company needs. We help people do it all the time.

Since SKILSTAK is largely a labor of love we maintain a collection of nice things people have said over the years.

Want to add your own nice comment?

We love when people are helped. Feel free to mention it in the Discord or message rwxrob directly. Or, just add your own to the comments by making a PR.

What's a SKILSTAK?#

SKILSTAK (spelled incorrectly so we could get the domain names and social media accounts) is currently a learning community containing veterans and beginners alike helping one another to gain and maintain employable, relevant tech skills primarily involving the Linux and UNIX operating systems.

The term "skilstak" was first created when Rob (founder) imagined an app for managing all the different skills he had to learn and maintain in a way that allowed them to be prioritized and evaluated regularly as well as displaying critical interdependencies, the goal being to keep one's "skilstak" fresh and relevant. This is particularly hard to do for overworked industry professionals who frequently are let go only to realize they cannot get another job because they have not managed and maintained their "skilstak" at all

Would you go to a doctor that didn't keep up?

Ever notice that doctors and dentists (and healthcare professionals like them) must keep with the latest procedures? They have at least as much to keep up with as a modern technology professional, yet we don't demand the same standard from tech professionals.

Why? Probaby because people are less likely to die. But with the latest security incidents and the demand for Security Analysts increasing 35% per year people probably will start dying from tech pro failures. How about all the hospitals shut down completely during the pandemic because of poor security? How many people indirectly died because of it that we'll never know?

Bottom line: it's far past time to require the same high standards from technology professionals that we do from our health care professionals.

The term "stack" is frequently used in technology circles to refer to a collection of technologies that work well together. "Do you use ELK or EFK stack?" one might ask. Stacks frequently have acronyms associated with them (MERN, MEAN, LAMP, etc.) but not always.

Picking what "stack" of "skills" you want to learn and maintain, therefore, has a direct corralary to the term SKILSTAK, as in, "What your skill stack?" Arguably, people usually say "skill set" instead, which is synonymous.

Unbound from accreditation lag and lies#

All "accredited" organizations must submit their curriculum (and any change to it) to an accreditation agency to which they pay a large some of money to ensure their curriculum is sound and current. The problem is that the process can take up to a year. Executives in the education industry have frequently commented on how this inhibits innovation in the learning material itself. Considering that in a given year, perhaps three major revisions to employable best practices can happen there is simply no way such "accredited" institutions can ever keep up. Hell, people working in tech every day can't even keep up themselves. The pace is just that fast and only getting faster.

Never count on any "accredited" institution to be able to teach you anything that will distinguish you from the mass of other out-of-date potential new hires. Your skills will be as dusty as the books in the back of their libraries and just as useless. Instead, you must learn to manage your own learning in a way that is free from institutional dependency. Just ask any successful person you trust working in tech today. They'll confirm it. Those institutions spend tons of money on marketing and lies convincing you to give them your money unnecessarily. They feed on it like a vampire does the blood of the naive innocent.

Sometimes you do need a piece of paper, but more often than not you don't. We'll help you learn how to make that decision confidently for yourself. You are in control, not them.

Free from corporate bias#

Some corporations have donated so much money to educational institutions that those running the corporation dictate the selection of technologies and learning offerings of what is suppose to be an independent educational organization responding to the needs of those paying money to learn from them. Some "schools" even accept cash "endowments" from these corporations while claiming it has no influence over their curriculum.


Ever notice how most community colleges only teach networking on Cisco hardware? Or that colleges in towns dominated by the banking industry prefer to teach Java (which most banks fundamentally depend on) over other, more modern languages?

Some corporations are so desperate to get people to learn their tech so they can sell that tech to others companies with big-pockets claiming it has "wide adoption and developer support" that they will "give away" education "for free" while hiding their agenda.

Look deeper for yourself and you will see that greed dominates the world of traditional education and "training" and probably always will.

Rest assured, that silliness will never happen at SKILSTAK. Decisions about which technology to invest in are always based on the needs and goals of the individual. Multiple community members, employed full-time by different and diverse companies provide a balanced voice and honest recommendations based on partial but informed opinions about what is best and most relevant to learn. As always, individuals are taught and encouraged to arrive at their own conclusions and develop their own learning plans free from such agendas and bias. And why not? That's how education should work.