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Six Niche Linux Certifications

Sometimes you have to step off the beaten path to find the right certification. Let's take a look at the world of Linux certifications, and see which certs some people may be overlooking.

These Linux certs are off the beaten path.It’s quite often the case that life’s largely doverlooked pleasures are also among its sweetest. When looking at certifications, it is much the same thing. The often-overlooked ones can make a huge difference in your certification journey0. By focusing on lesser-known gems, you can round out your overall Linux skill set, or possibly make yourself a coveted Linux specialist.


The certs discussed here may not be trendy, that does not mean you should not purse and obtain them. Occasionally stepping away from the beaten path of certs might just be your key to landing a coveted job with a new employer. Even if you don’t unlock a new employment situation, you’ll have made yourself more valuable in your current job, and that’s never a bad thing.


First, grab yourself the LPIC-2: Linux Engineer credential. This certification is offered by Canada’s Linux Professional Institute, an organization that seeks to “enable economic and creative opportunities for everybody by making open source knowledge and skills certification universally accessible.” LPIC truly is an open and honest certification body, and one that strives to meet rigorous standards.


You’ll need to pass two exams, the first of which, exam 201-450, dives into capacity planning, manipulating the Linux kernel, configuring system startup services and boot loaders, and configuring and maintaining file systems and devices. You will also be tested on advanced storage device administration, networking configuration and system maintenance.


Passing the first exam will put your feet firmly on the path to becoming an epic system engineer for the entire enterprise. I recommend preparing by thoroughly studying the exam objective and plowing through a few practice tests. There are Linux study groups forming online all the time, if you want some study partners.


The second exam (202-450) will verify that you understand all the aspects of the kernel and can demonstrate that understanding across multiple scenarios. It focuses on rounding out the engineering items, focusing mainly on networking-related topics, such as Domain Name Server (DNS), web services, file sharing, network client management, e-mail services and router configuration. You’ll also learn about security topics like secure shell (SSH), port testing and configuring OpenVPN.


You’ll have to shell out $200 for each exam, but LPIC-2 certification is valid for 5 years before it needs to be reupped. It bears pointing out that by recommending LPIC-2, I’m also steering you in the direction of LPIC-1: Linux Administrator, since you can’t get one without first having the other. If you’re generally new to Linux, this will be for the best anyway, and if you’re already familiar with Linux, then LPIC-1 should be a breeze.


We’ll stay with the Linux Professional Institute for my third recommendation, which is the three-tiered LPIC-3: Linux Enterprise Professional credential. This is the pinnacle of the LPI certification program and is considered expert level. Before attempting it, you should have several years of hands-on experience installing, managing, integrating, networking, and troubleshooting Linux in an enterprise environment.


To earn your LPIC-3 credential, you’ll need to have the LPIC-2 already under your belt. From there you can choose one (or all) of three different specializations:


Mixed Environment (exam 300-100): This exam focuses on OpenLDAP configuration, OpenLDAP as an authentication backend, and highly advanced levels of Samba administration, among other topics.

Security (exam 303-200): To pursue this exam, be sure that you're well versed in access controls and cryptography, as well as application, operations, and network security.

Virtualization and High Availability (exam 304-200): This exam covers virtualization (of course), along with load balancing, cluster management and cluster storage.