Even as we talk about Linux certification, it is interesting to first understand the very concept of Linux Operating System. Linux is different from other popular operating systems like Windows and Unix that are popular in the industry.
Linux kernel was created by Linus Torvalds as part of his plan to create a license-free operating system. Unlike in case of other commercial operating systems where the source code is closely guarded and kept highly confidential, in case of Linux, the source code is freely available to programmers across the world, and they are allowed to modify and distribute it freely. Linux was a result of the controversial GNU project that attempted to create a free OS on the lines of the popular UNIX operating system. The IT industry’s initial response to Linux was that of great apprehension. However with the passage of time, the popularity of Linux as an operating system has grown at an astronomical pace, much to the surprise of major commercial vendors of operating systems such as Microsoft.
Now as the use of Linux has grown so much, and there are millions of IT professionals across the world trained in its use and programming. The industry has realized the need for introducing Linux certification, in order to validate the skills of a Linux professional, much on the lines of other popular certifications such as CCNA and MCSE.
There are quite a few certifications in vogue being offered by various Linux vendors and some non-profit organizations. A candidate has to make a careful choice considering factors such as the nature of Linux environment deployed, and also the cost of certification.
In terms of vendor-neutral certifications, Linux certification can be broadly classified into the following categories:
This certification is designed for junior-level Linux administrators. The skills tested under this certification are basically the installation, maintenance, and configuration of Linux systems. LPIC-1 professionals possess reasonable Linux expertise that enables them to configure a stand-alone PC or a workstation.
The LPIC-2 certification is designed for professionals who can administer small to medium sized sites. They possess skills that enable them to maintain and troubleshoot heterogeneous networks. These networks are a blend of Microsoft and Linux operating systems, added with various server components such as the Internet Gateway. LPIS-2 professionals are also able to supervise assistants and provide valuable systems information to the management.
This certification is designed for professionals who have the capability to configure Linux systems for multi-site enterprises. They are expected to possess the following additional skills:
- Project management
- Schedule management
- Team handling
- Management reporting
Another popular vendor-neutral Linux certification is the CompTIA’s Linux+. CompTIA is highly popular for its range of foundation-level certifications. On the same lines, the Linux+ certification offered by CompTIA is also an entry-level certification for Linux professionals. It is intended for candidates who have around six months experience in installing and maintaining Linux systems. The main topics covered in CompTIA Linux+ certification include:
- Planning and Implementation
- Installation, configuration and administration
- System maintenance
- Maintenance of system hardware
Outside the preview of vendor-neutral certifications, Red Hat, the popular vendor of Linux, also offers a series of Linux certifications that are:
- Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT): This certification tests the skills of a professional in installation and maintaining Linux systems. It also checks the ability to manage a corporate network.
- Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE): This is a Senior Administrator level certification designed to test skills such as network security and services.
- Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA): This is the highest level of Linux certification offered by Red Hat. It tests advanced skills such as systems management, performance management and advanced network concepts.
Despite the initial hesitation of the IT industry in adopting Linux as an operating system, it is now amply clear that Linux is here to stay. The power and flexibility of Linux is encouraging more and more companies across the world to prefer it to other commercially successful operations systems such as Windows and Unix. Moreover, since it follows an open-code system, the flexibility offered by Linux is unparalleled.
So if you are already into the use and application of Linux, it is highly advisable to go in for a certification. Certification provides valid assurance to a potential employer about the actual skills and ability of a candidate. If a candidate is already Linux experienced, then with a little help from the plethora of online tutorials available on the net, a Linux certification exam can easily be cracked.