Linux Certification Passport author outlines exam strategy

How can you best prepare for the Linux+ certification exam? Certification authority and Linux Certification Passport author Michael Jang discusses a strategy for success.

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What type/level of IT professional is Mike Myers' Linux+ Certification Passport aimed toward? The Linux+ exam is targeted at junior-level IT professionals with six to 12 months of experience with Linux. This experience is crucial, as many companies look for it before they look at certification in the hiring process. Mike Meyers' Linux+ Certification Passport is aimed at Linux professionals with experience who just want a refresher focused...

on the Linux+ certification objectives as published by the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA).

CompTIA built its objectives - and questions, based on input from their Subject Matter Experts (SMEs), Linux administrators who have formed an understanding of the skills expected of a junior level Linux administrator.

Imagine I am one of your book's potential readers. What should draw me to Linux+ Certification Passport rather than online certification exam preparation services such as PrepLogic.com, UCertify.com or SelfTestSoftware.com?
Most online certification exam preparation services focus solely on the questions. There are so many questions in CompTIA's exam pool that it's no longer possible to rely on memorized questions and answers in preparing for the exam. With the Linux+ Certification Passport, I've given the reader insight into the kinds of questions to expect, and the skills needed, for the exam. This specific information will help the reader pass the Linux+ exam, at least until the objectives undergo major revisions.

CompTIA, Red Hat, and the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) have done an excellent job battling the perception that Linux certifications can be passed with "braindumps." LPI's exams include "fill in the blank" questions, which can't just be guessed. Red Hat's exams include "hands on" scenarios which test the candidate's fundamental Linux skills under some rigorous time constraints. From the feedback I've seen, my RHCE Red Hat Certified Engineer Linux Study Guide have helped a number of candidates practice those skills essential for RHCEs, as described in the public Red Hat exam prep guide.

So perceptions of the test itself have been changing; how would you say this has changed the certification arena in the past several years?
As demand has grown for Linux professionals, the demand for certified professionals has grown correspondingly - after some initial skepticism.

I think the skepticism was based on perceptions from the Linux world with regard to Microsoft certifications. The training wasn't an issue - it's the certification that held the stigma.

While the skeptics continue to complain, certification is gaining credibility as a measure of competence for Linux professionals.

And individual tests? How have they changed? What's next in certification?
While CompTIA has done an excellent job keeping their exams up to date, I hope they include a few "fill in the blank" questions in their next major revision.

Canonical has a new entry into the Linux certification realm, the Ubuntu Certified Professional (UCP) exam. Officially, it's an LPI exam, which builds on the LPIC Level 1 certification. I would not be surprised to see Canonical come out with an Ubuntu Certified Engineer exam. It would probably include hands-on questions, in the same mold as the Red Hat Certified Engineer exam. I've also written a book on the UCP exam, Ubuntu Certified Professional Study Guide, which should be on the shelves in a couple of months (August 2008).

As for other Linux certification exams, I haven't taken the SUSE exams developed by Novell, so I cannot comment on those.

I am disappointed that the SAIR exams have lost mindshare in the Linux community. They were created by some excellent Linux developers, but were never kept up to date, certainly not to the extent that the Linux+ exam was. As far as I know, other offerings, such as the online Linux exams from Brainbench, have not gained any significant mindshare among Linux professionals.

When did you take the Linux Certification exam? Did your memories of the exam inform how you wrote the book?
I've taken the Linux+ certification exam three times. The first two times were in support of other projects - including one of my first books, Linux+ Exam Cram. Each time, I've done my best to make sure that any questions I create are different from those questions I've seen on the exam. However, taking the exam helped me create questions of the same degree of difficulty.

CompTIA, with the help of its SMEs, has done an excellent job keeping the Linux+ exam up to date. While the current objectives were created in 2004, the questions I saw when I took the exam in 2007 reflected information on the latest Linux distributions.

Which distributions do you focus on most heavily in the book, and why? Which do you see as being most valuable to a business?
In 2004, CompTIA explicitly focused on four distributions when it developed the Linux+ exam: Red Hat, SUSE, Mandrake, and Turbolinux. All of these distributions have evolved; so I used the Fedora 7, openSUSE 10, Mandriva 2007, and Turbolinux Celica releases to prepare Linux+ Certification Passport.

Do you have any recommended study tips to go along with the book?Does Linux require a different approach to learning than do proprietary software certifications?

Mike Myers' Linux+ Certification Passport is dedicated to the Linux+ exam.

If you want to learn Linux, get a real Linux system. It's OK to install Linux on a Virtual Machine; in fact, the management of virtual machines is a skill in high demand. Yes, getting CompTIA Linux+ -certified can help get you past the people who screen your résumé. If you actually practice the skills discussed in Linux+ Certification Passport, you're more likely to get through those interview questions and get the job you want.

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