CompTIA Linux+ and LPI Certifications
I’m currently CompTIA Linux+ certified. I passed the 2004 exam back in 2005, and more recently the 2009 exam while it was in beta. The Linux+ certification has since been updated and essentially merged with the LPIC-1 from the Linux Professional Institute. Recently I’ve been looking into updating my Linux+ certification to the latest version. Here are my findings.
To obtain the Linux+ and LPIC-1 certifications, a candidate must pass two exams through either CompTIA or LPI. Since the original announcement of the agreement between CompTIA and LPI, an additional partnership has been forged with Novell. After completing the requirements for the LPIC-1, you will be granted the SUSE Certified Linux Administrator certification by simply filling out a form. That’s three certifications for the price of one!
The exams of both organizations are offered exclusively through Pearson VUE, a well-known and reputable exam vendor. From reading various blog articles and forum posts, my impression is that the exams are likely identical. The pricing is the same (US $178 per exam) and the official exam objectives, linked below, are nearly identical. Which exams to take may depend on if any discount can be found. Discounted vouchers for CompTIA exams will likely be easier to find.
These exams have been available for a few years so there is a fair amount of study material available. When I completed the old, single-exam format Linux+, I used an excellent study guide written by Roderick Smith and published by Sybex. Luckily there is an updated guide for the current Linux+ from the same author which has good reviews.
Interestingly, there is another book from this author for the LPIC-1 with the same publishing date and page count. It’s apparently identical, but the Linux+ edition looks like the better choice since it is slightly cheaper and has better reviews. 🙂
Besides Sybex, study guides are available from other other publishers.
As with most certifications, a study guide will only go so far. It is imperative to get hands-on experience with the material being tested. It is of course best if a candidate regularly works with Linux, but for most people setting up a lab environment will be in order. The great thing about studying for a Linux certification is that it is freely available for download and has minimal system requirements. Even a modest laptop should be able to run several Linux systems as VMs in a hypervisor such as the free VirtualBox from Oracle (previously Sun and originally innotek).
The Linux+ and LPIC-1 certifications purport to be vendor neutral so it is a good idea to install Linux distributions from multiple vendors. I suggest CentOS and Ubuntu. Both are widely used for personal and business use, and getting familiar with both will cover the package management requirements since CentOS uses rpm and yum (objective 102.5) and Ubuntu uses dpkg and apt (objective 102.4).
After completing the Linux+ and LPIC-1 (and SUSE CLA), the LPIC-2 is the next logical choice. Sybex has a study guide for the LPIC-2.
Another compelling option is to pursue certifications from Red Hat. Their RHCSA and RHCE certifications are respected and possibly more well-known than those from LPI. The exams for the RHCSA and RHCE certifications, EX200 and EX300, respectively, are particularly challenging as they are 100% hands-on. The most commonly recommended study guide for these exams is from author Michael Jang and now at the sixth edition.