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Creating a Linux Certification Program - The Next Step
Creating A Linux Certification Program - The Next Step
After my article in the October Linux Gazette, I received over 60
replies, almost all of which were positive. With this next article, I want
to announce some various resources on the web and also a new mailing list
to discuss certification. Many thanks to all of you who have sent me pointers
and also volunteered to help. I received responses from all corners of
the globe and was excited and impressed to see: a) the work some people
are already doing on Linux training and certification; b) the enthusiasm
out there about Linux, and also about Linux training and certification;
and c) the willingness of so many people to help out and be involved!
Five specific notes before I get to all the pointers people have sent me:
First, Dave Sifry at Linuxcare,Inc., was kind enough to set up a mailing
list to host further discussions on creating a unified Linux certification
program. To subscribe, send a message to:
with the message:
Messages to the discussion list are sent to "firstname.lastname@example.org"
The list is intended for people who *want* to build a certification program.
We don't need to another place to discuss whether or not a Linux certification
program *should* exist... subscribers to the list should agree that, yes,
we want a Linux certification program - now let's discuss how best to build
Second, Bruce Dawson from CodeMeta graciously set up a place where I could
post pointers for Linux training resources. It's at:
Don't bother going there yet as I don't have any real content online.
My goal is to build a "Linux Training Alliance" of other training centers
that will be offering Linux training with the idea of publicizing schedules,
resources, etc. If you are involved with a training center (commercial,
university or nonprofit, etc.), and would be interested, drop me a note.
I expect to have some more ideas there by mid-November. Check in
Third, the folks at SAGE (the System Administrator's Guild, a special technical
group within USENIX) have been doing some great work on developing a generic
UNIX certification program. Please check out their work at:
While it will probably make sense from a marketing perspective to have
a separate Linux credential, I personally think our efforts should be at
the very least complementary to what SAGE develops - if not coordinated
directly with the SAGE work.
There will be a block of time on December 10th at the big USENIX LISA conference
in Boston, MA, December 9-11, to discuss certification. I'm planning to
be there and would be glad to meet others there. More info can be found
Fourth, I just wanted to respond to a number of comments people sent taking
issue with my article's focus on making money offering Linux training.
I make no apologies. My company is a for-profit training center and
I would desperately love to make my living teaching people how to use Linux
instead of doing what I am currently doing (teaching people how to use
That said, I believe that *any* Linux certification program should be created
in such a way as to be affordable and as inexpensive as possible.
Which, if you look at it, is true of Microsoft's MCSE program. To
become an MCSE, you MUST only spend $600 - 6 exams at $100/each.
That's it... $600 ($U.S.). It's how you prepare for those exams that
costs the money. Some people use books, others computer-based training,
some the free info on the web - others take training classes. In my opinion,
any Linux training program should offer a similar range of options - the
actual certification cost should be as minimal as possible.
Finally, Tobin Maginnis (email@example.com)
responded to mention the program he has put together for a "Linux Certified
System Engineer". He has a site up at:
Tobin will have an article
in the December issue of the Linux Journal and is also extremely interested
in developing a Linux industry-wide certification program. I encourage
you to visit his site and read his material.
Resources Relating To Linux Certification
As a result of my article, a number of people sent me pointers to resources
available on the web relating to Linux training and certification.
The pointers are listed below.
First off, there's a web discussion group at the Linux Journal site focused
on Linux certification. It's at:
It was created after a November 1997 article by Phil Hughes
on the topic. Please do take a look at it. If people want to
use that forum for discussions versus the "linux-cert" mailing list, I'm
certainly open to it. Mailing lists happen to work better for me
personally... but I could work on a web site, too.
Quite a number of people (including Robert Hart himself) pointed me to
his pages at Red Hat where he describes the program Red Hat is developing:
He also has posted there a talk he gave at a May 1998 LinuxExpo describing
the Red Hat program and their reasons for going their own way.
Caldera came out with some more info about their training program. You
can learn more at:
Yes, Caldera took out "linuxtraining.com" some time ago - it just goes
to their main site (http://www.caldera.com/)
Kris Carlier (firstname.lastname@example.org) wrote in about some courses he is offering
in Belgium. He's got a web site up at:
The text is in Dutch, but there are enough English words that you might
get the idea... and hey, the dancing penguin is cool!
Andreas Neuper wrote in about the SAGE site, but also suggested visiting
IBM's site on certification for an example of another certification program.
"I Made Wiryana" replied from Indonesia about efforts there to promote
Linux within Indonesia. He provided two links:
Do be aware that his site is entirely written in Indonesian!
Several people wrote to suggest that Microsoft's program was not
the one that should be emulated. I understand their comments (one
was, "if we are to emulate anyone, it should NOT be Microsoft!") but actually
think Microsoft has put some good thought into their program. If
you haven't seen Microsoft's pages relating to certification, check out:
Someone wrote in to say that 6 months ago, he designed a program in Pennsylvania
with 3 levels - Certified Linux Administrator, Certified Linux Instructor,
Certified Linux Engineer. He didn't provide a web page or any other
information... and I haven't been able to find anything... but he's out
Another reader wrote in to ask that the word "Engineer" not be used in
any certification program titles as some states/countries regulate who
can be called an "Engineer" (reserving the term for people such as Mechanical
Engineers and Civil Engineers). Tough issue, given that so much of the
IT industry used the word "engineer"...
I happened to stumble on the page for "The Linux Foundation" which is apparently
developing two different Linux certification programs - "Certified Linux
Administrator" and "Certified Linux Expert". Their web site indicates that
exams are in development and will be offered through Sylvan Prometric (the
same as Microsoft, Sun and Novell). More info is at:
It's not clear, but it appears there may be a link between this site
and Digital Concepts, LLC, whose web site is at:
It appears they are following Caldera's plans and will be developing
guides for Caldera's program (see http://www.digitalco.com/linuxtests/)
Other people did point out that this topic has been around for a while.
Indeed, through the AltaVista search engine I found pointers to discussions
that occurred about setting up a Linux certification program back in 1996.
The issue now is that the momentum of certification within the IT industry
just keeps increasing and the responses to my article make me only that
much more sure that we need to move now to make sure that we build
a unified Linux certification program that we all can get behind
and promote with the same energy and enthusiasm that Microsoft promotes
the MCSE and Novell promotes the CNE.
The biggest single item that can kill a Linux certification program is
if we in the Linux community wind up with 4 or 5 different
separate programs! (Do I hear the UNIX wars again?) There is strength
in numbers - can we build a common program? Please join me
on the mailing list and let's see if we can give it a shot!
Copyright © 1998, Dan York
Published in Issue 34 of Linux Gazette, November 1998