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Linux Essentials: What is this new credential?

GoCertify: How do you recommend that people who don’t have Linux installed on their home computer get hands-on practice with the Linux operating system?

Robb Tracy: This is an excellent question. As mentioned above, students really need to practice on a live system before taking any IT certification exam, especially one based on Linux. However, most folks aren’t real keen on blowing away their home system to install Linux. I usually advise my students to use one of two options:

  • Buy an older used system and use it as a Linux lab system. These can be found in quantity for a pittance on ebay.com. In addition, many government entities put their older system up for sale when they surplus them out. I personally love to use publicsurplus.com to procure lab systems for my office. (My wife will confirm that I am a cheap-skate.)
  • If purchasing a lab system isn’t an option, then I recommend downloading and installing a copy of VMware Player from vmware.com and install Linux as a virtual machine on your existing home system. This is a fast and free option that doesn’t affect your existing system. You just won’t get the same kind of performance that you would get on physical hardware.

GoCertify: Are there additional self-study resources you recommend to people preparing for Linux Essentials certification?

Robb Tracy: I strongly recommend students become familiar with one the various web sites available that host all of the Linux man pages. My favorite is linux.die.net. I know that man pages are available in the Linux OS itself; but, frankly, they are a lot easier to search and read online.

These man pages can be a lifesaver when you are trying to learn new Linux commands. They cover the syntax you should use, they list all of the options you can use with these commands, and they frequently provide example commands that you can adapt to the task you need to complete.

Just hint here: LPI exams are notorious for including obscure options for commonly used commands. Spending some time with the man pages can be a lifesaver!

GoCertify: The book’s title is Linux Essentials Certification, but most marketing material refers to this as the “Linux Essentials Certificate of Achievement” - can you speak to that a little bit/explain why that is and what significance it has for potential candidates?

Robb Tracy: When Linux Essentials was originally released, it was commonly referred to as a “certification,” even in the LPI literature (hence the title of the book). Over the last couple of months, I’ve noticed that LPI has pulled back from the use of “certification” and have started using the term “credential.”

The difference is really semantics, in my opinion. Linux Essentials requires students to follow the same process as other LPI certifications.  I think the difference in terminology is intended to communicate that Linux Essentials is an introductory program, differentiating it from the more advanced LPIC-x certifications.

GoCertify: Once someone earns Linux Essentials certification, is there a natural next step as far as credentialing?

Robb Tracy: Absolutely! As I mentioned earlier, Linux Essentials is a stepping stone to bigger and better things. I would strongly recommend that students immediately begin work on their LPIC-1/Linux+ certification after they complete Linux Essentials.

GoCertify: What other words of advice do you have for people considering pursuing Linux Essentials certification?

Robb Tracy: Here are the keys to Linux certification success that I always give to my students:

  • Don’t rush it. Linux is different than Windows, so it’s going to take some time to become proficient.
  • Don’t skip the practice. As we talked about earlier, I strongly recommend setting up a lab system (multiple lab systems would be best) and run through the lab exercises included in the book. If a lab system isn’t available, then set up one or more Linux virtual machines.
  • Don’t be afraid to mess around with Linux. Go beyond the book. Use the Web to learn 10 new things that you can do with Linux.

Author Robb Tracy, CNA, CNE, CNI, A+, Network+, Linux+ has been a professional technology instructor and courseware developer since 1996. He wrote his first Linux certification study guide, "Novell Certified Linux Engineer (Novell CLE) Study Guide," in 2005, and his latest, "LPI Essentials All-in-One Exam Guide," is hot off the presses in 2013.