Linux Certification Opportunities Emerge

Open-source movement drives demand for training

The growing adoption of Linux systems by corporate IT shops is generating increasing demand for certified Linux professionals, and opportunities to gain those credentials are beginning to keep pace.

The certification issue will be prominent this week at the LinuxWorld Conference & Expo in New York, the major trade show for Linux.

A number of groups are now providing Linux certification, including the nonprofit Linux Professional Institute (LPI), global IT trade group CompTIA and Linux vendor Red Hat Inc.

Evan Leibovitch, president of Toronto-based LPI, said interest in getting Linux-certified workers has been "just staggering" in recent months.

LPI doesn't supply training but does give written certification exams that test an applicant's knowledge and mastery of Linux systems. About 57% of the exam takers fail the test, Leibovitch said.

"We actually like that," Leibovitch said. "It indicates to the world that this is not an easy exam to pass" and that the certification has real value. "When you pass the exam, it means you know your stuff," he said.

Junior and intermediate levels of certification are available, with an advanced certification still under development. LPI has granted 20,000 certifications worldwide since it began its program in 2000.

Other Linux certifications under consideration by LPI include security, database administration, enterprise-level administration and even desktop administration.

The certifications are vendor-neutral in order to try to avoid problems experienced in the Unix world in the past, Leibovitch said. "We do believe there have been some lessons learned," he said.

Eva Chen, Linux certification manager at Oak Brook, Ill.-based CompTIA, said that approximately 2,000 IT professionals have been certified so far by the organization.

Raleigh, N.C.-based Red Hat offers the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) program and the Red Hat Certified Technician certification, which was introduced last November to assess midlevel skills.

Pete Childers, vice president of global learning services at Red Hat, said the company's program includes hands-on testing as well as written work to provide deeper knowledge and skills. Red Hat also provides hands-on Linux systems training. Approximately 7,200 people have received RHCE certification out of about 13,500 who have taken the hands-on exam.

However, not every IT shop sees the need for Linux certification.

Dan Agronow, vice president of technology at weather forecasting service in Atlanta, said his company doesn't require Linux certification for new hires or its existing IT staff. Instead, he said, it looks for people with solid Linux skills to run its systems.

But Dan Kusnetzky, an analyst at IDC, said certification is good for companies that want a security blanket as they consider bringing Linux inside their shops.

"Organizations looking at Linux for the first time often feel more comfortable having people with certification," Kusnetzky said.

Certifiably Linux

The cost of Linux certification can include training or just exams, from such vendors as:

Linux Professional Institute:

two exams, $100 each


$100 to $200

Red Hat:

RHCE exam only, $749; with training, up to $6,100

Copyright © 2003 IDG Communications, Inc.

It’s time to break the ChatGPT habit
Shop Tech Products at Amazon