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Aparna Gupta
Linux Certification

by Aparna Gupta
  • Linux Certification Overview
  • How to get Linux Certified
  • Preparing for Linux Certification

    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 supercomputer clusters.

    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 resumes.

    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 system.

    How to get Linux Certified

    Currently there are three major organizations which provide Linux Certification exams:

    • Linux Professional Institute
    • Sair Linux and GNU
    • Red Hat
    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 LinuxCertified, Inc. offer training courses for LPI exams.

    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 and Prometric testing centers.

    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. A fast-paced 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!

    About the Author
    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 Linux user.

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