Linux Fundamentals is a three-day course aimed at IT professionals who are starting to work with Linux servers in their organisation. This course typically has six such professionals from companies across the UK learning the basics of working with open-source systems for the first time.
On this occasion, StayAhead Training brought together three related courses into one classroom under the umbrella of 'Linux/Unix fundamentals'. This led to one delegate questioning whether he was on the right course. StayAhead told ZDNet UK that courses would be kept separate in future.
Although ZDNet UK reviewed this course in StayAhead's Central London training centre near Barbican, the company offers the same course from its offices in Manchester, Bristol, Birmingham and Leeds.
The content of the course covered the history of Unix and Linux, common shells, basic syntax, the X Window system, GNOME desktop, an extensive list of basic commands, the Linux file system, file access control, redirection and pipes, vi/wim editors, processes, the Bash environment, Bash Shell scripting.
The course we reviewed was delivered by a tutor with some ten years of continuous open-source training, which could be interpreted by delegates in one of two ways. First, the tutor had seen it all: he knew how delegates wanted to learn, and he offered intermittent anecdotes to break up the delivery of what could, to some, be a very dry subject. On the other hand, ten years delivering training courses is a lot of time not in the industry. When the tutor almost pleaded for delegates to phone him afterwards to give him real-world feedback, alarm bells began to ring in this reviewer's head.
The course was well backgrounded, with an in-depth history of the open source movement, and how the various distributions came into being: this provided an excellent setting for the importance of what would come next. But the tutor was, in our opinion, a little slow at starting the meat of the course in what was not a huge amount of time (3 days): indeed, one delegate was busy trying out the practical exercises well ahead of the appointed time.
Given the disparity of delegates' interests, due to the merger of the three courses, the tutor gave delegates the choice of working with Solaris, HP-UX, IBM AIX and Linux systems, to provide them with the most appropriate environment for their corporate network. This provision was greeted favourably, but it did mean that, because delegates selected three different systems, many instructions had to be given in triplicate.
We have one quibble though: the tutor knew precious little about his delegates and had to ask them for a short verbal biography in front of their peers. On the other hand, he was always available for questions on any subject.
Quality of supporting materials
There's little to set this course apart from the crowd: a standard set of notes is to be expected as a bare minimum, although the take-away exercises and post-course support offered by StayAhead are nice extras.
Value add and certification
For those new to Linux, delegates can expect to come away with a sizeable chunk of knowledge that's appropriate to their own corporate systems. Certification is not offered because this is a beginner's course in Linux.
StayAhead offers a plethora of courses for further advancement, as well as for colleagues who may already have experience of Linux systems. StayAhead is not an accredited training partner of any Linux vendor, nor is it affiliated to the Linux Professional Institute. However, its independence probably plays to its advantage, and StayAhead's courses can help IT professionals develop the skills for qualifications such as the Red Hat Certified Engineer.