Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Linux Certifications: Which Are The Most Important?

Recently I have been interested in developing a comprehensive Linux training program that has real impact and value to the community. The goal is to create class designs that add value to anyone taking the course. But we then ran into the ultimate question: What Linux Certification is considered the best?

The Certification Schools
I began by doing some digging on Google, and found there were basically four different schools of certifications out there:
1. RedHat
2. Novell (SuSE)
3. Linux Professional Institute (flavor-neutral)
4. CompTIA's Linux + program (flavor-neutral)

RedHat is, of course, focused primarily on RedHat or RedHat-based distributions (like Fedora). While this is ideal for computer centers and administrators using RedHat exclusively, it's very limiting as several very popular versions of Linux are not considered.

Novell's certification is specifically geared to their distribution of Linux, SuSE. Again, while perhaps even more comprehensive in it's two levels of certification, it's still very limited to the SuSE distribution, and therefore not ideal.

LPI is perhaps the most impressive, as it is flavor-neutral. In fact, it focuses on the basic core of Linux, covers compiling as an instalation, and then even overviews the install processes of both Debian-based and RedHat-based packaging. And precious few facilities within the US are fully tied to the Linux Professional Institute.

CompTIA, for those that are familiar with their A+ certification, is basically a quick overview to prepare someone to deal with Linux as HelpDesk personel. It is, by no means, a comprehensive certification.

What was even more interesting was the distribution of the certifications. The two most distributed worldwide was RedHat and LPI, with RedHat leading domestically in the US and internationally, and LPI being more international with a growing domestic market. Novell's certifications would come behind these, because though Novell's NetWare certifications are well known, their Linux certifications are relatively new, and tied to their SuSE distribution of Linux. CompTIA is strong domestically, but I didn't notice an international presence.

The Certification Levels
The leveling also took me by surprise, though not completely. It basically broke down like this:

1. CompTIA Linux+
2. LPI 1
3. Novell Certified Linux Professional
4. RedHat Certified Technican

1. LPI 2
2. Novel Certified Linux Engineer
3. RedHat Certified Engineer

1. RedHat Certified Systems Architect
2. RedHat Certified Security Specialist
3. LPI 3 (Currently in Beta, release date Jan. 2007)

Back to the Question...
So, this brings us back to the question at hand: What is the most important certification to receive, and which would be the best? Well, I immediately identified the LPI certification program as being the most global. Then I also noticed, once I started looking at the topics being covered, that the same class can cover all the other certifications as well. It would take a little bit of tweaking to the curriculum, but overall it would be possible to prepare someone to take all the certifications with the exception of the advanced classes. Those could then be added in later, providing a full gambit of Linux certifications with minimal resource allocations.

So, ultimately which is the best to provide? Because we are able to cover all of them for the same price as one, it doesn't really matter. But given the choice, which would you choose?

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