IT Career JumpStart

Jun 21 2013   1:19PM GMT

Linux Essentials: A Kinder, Gentler Entry-Level Linux Cert?

Ed Tittel Ed Tittel Profile: Ed Tittel

I just read an interesting interview with Robb Tracy, author of the LPI Linux Essentials Certification All-in-One Exam Guide (McGraw-Hill, 2013, ISBN: 9780071811019, $31.01 Amazon). It appears at GoCertify in a June 19, 2013, story entitled “Linux Essentials – What is this new credential?” Tracy makes some very interesting points about why LPI (which already offers the LPIC-1 Linux credential, and cooperated with CompTIA in the design and creation of the Linux+ certification as well) decided to offer yet another entry-level Linux certification above and beyond what’s already available.

First, he explains that Linux Essentials was originally launched as a pilot program in the part of the world often known as EMEA (Europe, the Middle East, and Africa) by LPI, and later expanded into North America in 2012. The content was created for students in high schools, or trade and technical schools (something like our community college system here in the USA), and intended to teach and test for basic Linux literacy, skills, and knowledge. In North America, Linux Essentials has also gained traction in four-year college and university programs, especially for lower-division undergraduates just getting started with computing topics, tools, and technologies. In this vein, Tracy says “The goal of Linux Essentials is to expose students to the Linux operating system and the concept of Open Source software. As such, it is the ideal entry-level Linux program.”

Next, Tracy points out that the LPIC-1/Linux+ credentials aim mostly at IT professionals (though often entry-level or junior IT workers) and have the “reputation of being quite difficult.” Tracy reports further that he has often fielded complaints from LPIC-1/Linux+ candidates that these exams are “too difficult” (emphasis his) and that they “can scare away Linux newcomers” as a consequence — a phenomenon Tracy likens to the “‘Linux all of fear.'” He then follows up with this telling observation: “I think Linux Essentials provides a fantastic avenue for those new to Linux to get their feet wet with the operating system and gain some confidence before tackling the more advanced LPIC-1/Linux+ certification.” All of this goes to explain why I can’t help but seeing this new offering as a kind of Linux certification with training wheels myself.

Some additional points from the interview worth noting include:

  • Though it’s elementary, the Linux Essentials cert still covers considerable ground: newbie candidates should give themselves no less than two months to prepare for the exam, and even those with some Linux exposure and knowledge will need a month to get ready. If covered in the classroom, preparation usually involves a semester-long course.
  • Candidates must get familiar and comfortable with the Linux command line, and really dig into the wide array of commands and their many switches, parameters, and options. This involves what Tracy aptly describes as “practice, practice, practice!”
  • Tracy provides useful tips on gaining access to a live Linux system on which to implement his previous admonition (practice!): repurpose an older system, or installing VMware player and running Linux in a virtual machine.
  • Tracy also advises candidates to visit any of the many Websites that provide access to Linux man pages (the per-command help files so well-known and loved/hated by experienced Linux/Unix users), and recommends in particular.

The interview concludes with Tracy’s recitation of a number of useful study tips that he routinely shares with his students. Be sure to read the interview, and check them out, if you decide to pursue Linux Essentials yourself (or pass the link along to more junior colleagues, co-workers, offspring, or whatever who might benefit from a little Linux know-how).

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