Linux Certification Overview
Linux is fast becoming a key component of the Internet age.
According to a study done recently, more than 75% of the Fortune
500 companies have already deployed Linux or are considering
to do so in the near future. Today, there are more web servers
running on Linux than on any other operating system. Linux
is now core for systems ranging from small smart devices to
With a booming Linux deployment comes increased demand
for professionals who are conversant with Linux. This includes
users, administrators, and programmers, as well as buyers
of Linux systems. A GirlGeek with a recognized Linux Certification
is a magnet for hiring tech companies. Many job postings
already favor applicants with "Linux Certified" in their
While certification by itself does not make you a recognized
Linux Guru, it provides a great start towards that goal.
As employers look for candidates with prior experience,
professionals with certification can erase employers' doubts
in their ability to work with Linux.
Certification is also a great tool for self-motivation
to learn Linux in depth. Certification tests provide a clear-cut
goal to brush up on broad aspects of this popular operating
How to get Linux Certified
Currently there are three major organizations which provide
Linux Certification exams:
Linux Professional Institute (LPI) is a non-profit organization
which has used volunteers to develop itself as a community
project mirroring the development of Linux itself. Linux enthusiasts
have volunteered for LPI for tasks ranging from taking care
of its booth in trade-shows, all the way to preparing examination
questions. LPI certification is not tied to any particular
Linux distribution. LPI is purely a certification organization
and does not offer training or courseware. Companies like
Inc. offer training courses for LPI exams.
- Linux Professional Institute
- Sair Linux and GNU
- Red Hat
LPI currently offers only Level 1 certification. Level
1 certification requires passing two exams (Exam 101 and
102). LPI exams may be taken at any of the 2400 VUE
testing centers worldwide, and cost $100 US each
(The cost of the Japanese exam is 15,000 yen). LPI is expected
to offer more advanced levels in near future.
Red Hat is the only major distribution vendor which is
currently providing a certification for its own distribution.
Other major vendors like Suse, Turbo Linux and Caldera seem
to have put full support behind LPI. In general, distribution
independent certification should be preferred, but there
could be some valid reasons to consider Red Hat certification
as well. For instance, if your organization (current or
prospective) predominantly uses Red Hat distribution, becoming
a Red Hat Certification Engineer may be more relevant.
Sair Inc. was one of the first organizations to offer
a Linux Certification exam. It also offers a vendor-neutral
Linux certification. Sair got acquired by Wave Technologies,
a huge IT certification and training outfit, in January
2000. Wave Technology in turn got acquired by The Thomson
Corporation in March 2000, becoming part of its Thomson
Learning division. Sair exams are offered through VUE
Preparing for Linux Certification
If you are already conversant with some other UNIX system,
e.g. Solaris, HP-UX, etc., the best way to start preparing
is to log onto a Linux system and start figuring out the
differences with respect to the operating system you are
familiar with. The three organizations mentioned above,
list the objectives of their exams on their respective websites.
Linux administration course can get you prepared
very quickly for certification exams. In any case, do spend
a good amount of time on a Linux system before appearing
in the exam.
If you have very little or no UNIX experience consider
taking a fundamentals
class. A good class should give you enough confidence
to start playing with Linux on your own. Once you feel comfortable
with the exam objectives, go ahead and get Linux certified!
Aparna Gupta is a co-founder of LinuxCertified,
Inc. She is also a professor at the department of Decision
Sciences and Engineering Systems at Rensselaer Polytechnic
Institute. Her research interests are in optimization and
mathematical modeling of stochastic systems. Aparna earned
her Ph.D. from Stanford University in the Scientific Computing
and Computational Mathematics program. Aparna is a avid