Get Linux Certified
December 6, 2008
I am not a big believer in certifications as a measure of experience. Yes, it does show one has knowledge but experience can only be judged once you actually have someone working with you. My preference is to learn everything on the certification exam, and be able to apply it in real-world situations. If you take the exam, it should be a way to prove your knowledge to yourself, not the final goal of getting certified.
Once you get into an operating environment, say a business, it will have its own unique process and procedure. So the things you will be expected to do day in and day out will be a subset of all the things you need to know when getting certified. So it is important to work in a variety of environments to become a better Linux person. My recommendation is to make notes as you learn and revisit them periodically to make sure you still remember the stuff. Another recommendation is to create tasks which employ a variety of steps. Have two versions of the task: what to do, and how to do it. The “how” part should include step-by-step instructions, and the “what” part should tell you what needs to be done. Revisit these tasks.
With the advent of virtualization, we don’t need separate hardware to run and learn Linux. Just get something like VMware or VirtualBox and install Linux on it. Pick whichever distribution you want. Pick multiple distributions and install all of them to learn the differences between them. Install and run them every day. Perform the tasks you have created on all these distributions. I am a big believer in learning by doing.
A good way to gather tasks is by looking at the skills required to get certified. Pick these tasks from Red Hat Certified Engineer, Ubuntu Certified Professional, Linux+, Linux Professional Institute Certification. Another place to get tasks is from books on Linux administration. Check out a few of the forums to see what kinds of questions people usually have and try to answer more challenging ones. Not only would you be helping someone, but you will be learning so much along the way. There are always multiple ways of doing the same thing. Learn how to do it one way, and then explore other possibilities.
In my opinion getting certified involves two steps: learn everything you are expected to know, and then take certification exam if you absolutely have to. Hopefully by following these steps you will become better in using Linux. I realize this will take longer than maybe some other methods, but I see it as a more practical and wholesome method. And then if you want you can get the recognition of being certified by any one (or all) of the organizations out there.