Linux Foundation introduces new Linux certifications

Linux Foundation introduces new Linux certifications

Summary: Want to prove you've got the chops for a Linux job? The Linux Foundation is introducing the proof you'll need with new certifications.

TOPICS: IT Employment, CXO, Linux

CHICAGO — It's a common story: Businesses desperately want Linux savvy employees. Programmers and system administrators who cut their teeth on the gcc and the BASH shell want jobs. But, between them rises the wall of human resources, which wants degrees and certifications. The Linux Foundation introduced an answer at LinuxCon: a new Linux Foundation Certification Program for both early-career and engineer-level systems administrators.

Linux Foundation Certifications
Linux Foundation certifications

The new Certification Program exams and designations for Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE) will demonstrate that users are technically competent through a performance-based exam that is available online.

These certifications will have the following features.

Virtual, available anytime, anywhere in the world: The certification tests are designed to be secure exams that can be taken by anyone anywhere with a Web browser, microphone, and webcam.

Performance-based exams: Exam takers will be tested on their ability to solve real problems in the command line rather than be tested on theory or be given multiple choice questions. 

Distribution-flexible: The Linux ecosystem is defined by choice, so exam takers will be able to choose to take their tests with one of three Linux distributions: CentOS, openSUSE, or Ubuntu

These tests are no cake-walk. Before releasing them, the Linux Foundation had its in-house developers and system administrators take the exams. Greg Kroah-Hartmann, the Linux kernel maintainer for the Linux stable branch, took them and said, "This is challenging." The Foundation also eats its own dog food. Its first hire since coming up with these certification tests got his job in no small part because he passed the test.

This program follows up on the Linux Foundation's free ‘Introduction to Linux’ Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) introduced earlier this year. That class alone now has more than 250,000 attendees. With this, and other Linux Foundation classes, the Linux Foundation Certification Program is designed to expand the talent pool of Linux professionals worldwide.

According to Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, the Linux Foundation certifications are designed to be complementary to Red Hat and the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) certifications.

The Linux Foundation Certification Program and exams were created by the Foundation with the help of a committee of industry experts. Zemlin said in the LinuxCon keynote speech: "Our mission is to address the demand for Linux that the industry. We are making our training program and Linux certification more accessible to users worldwide, since talent isn’t confined to one geography or one distribution. Our new Certification Program will enable employers to easily identify Linux talent when hiring and uncover the best of the best.”

This new certification opens with broad support from the Linux companies. In a statement, Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu's founder, said, "The Linux Foundation’s certification program will open new doors for Linux professionals who need a way to demonstrate their know-how and put them ahead of the rest. The timing is perfect for this, as demand for Linux talent is on the rise and we need ways to expand the pool of qualified candidates to support Linux.”

Jim Wasko, IBM's Director of the IBM Linux Technology Center, added in a statement "The Linux Foundation Certification Program will help prepare Linux system administrators to have the technical depth of expertise required today in the enterprise.  This approach to training and certification will give professionals the skills needed by employers like us and our many clients who rely on Linux."

It's not just companies that provide and support Linux that like these new certifications. “Certifications inspire employer confidence that professionals who are willing to invest the time and effort are passionate about their craft,” said Shravan Goli, president of Dice, the technology job company in a statement. “With the focus on performance and accessibility, the new program will advance the art of Linux learning and help build a talented pool of Linux professionals.”

The LFCS and LFCE exams cost $300 each. Certification holders will receive a graphical mark designating their completion of the exam that can be displayed on resumes, LinkedIn profiles, Web sites and more. The Linux Foundation also plans on helping successful candidates market themselves at its conferences and on

Related Stories:

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Linux

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • No Debian or Fedora certifications?

    "exam takers will be able to choose to take their tests with one of three Linux distributions: CentOS, openSUSE, or Ubuntu"

    IMO, the Linux Foundation certification should be distro-independent. Other than throwing some curve balls (e.g., Slackware, Arch, etc.) in the exams.
    Rabid Howler Monkey
    • It's a...

      professional certification - those 2 distros are the only one you can get vendor support on (CentOS is a clone of RedHat, so is Oracle Linux). and only difference in the exams are package managers as far as i know... the rest is pretty generic.
      • vgrig: "as far as i know"

        The current init systems vary across these Linux distros. Ubuntu currently uses upstart, Debian currently uses sysvinit whilst openSUSE, CentOS and Fedora currently use systemd. It will be some years, before all distros default with systemd.

        In addition, both Ubuntu and openSUSE have the AppArmor Linux Security Module (LSM) enabled by default, while CentOS and Fedora have the SELinux LSM enabled by default. Ubuntu also has enabled the Yama LSM by default. Debian does not default with any LSM.

        Just two additional examples beyond package management. There are probably some more subtle things.

        Again, I believe that The Linux Foundation certifiaction should be distro-independent. Thus, all of these technologies should be well known to those individuals gaining certification.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
  • Linux Foundation introduces new Linux certifications

    Kudos Linux Foundation.

    Freedom is wonderful..................
    • Oh, common!

      Certs have nothing to do with freedom... or choice... or freedom of choice!
      They're the opposite...
      • I said nothing of

        “choice... or freedom of choice!”

        As Military veteran.... Freedom is wonderful.
        Have a wonderful day....
  • certs are useless...

    somehow i survived 20 year of sys and net engineering without that... and companies who can't keep their HRs in check are not worth working for anyway. same goes for gov jobs. every job post that requires and cert is a red flag against the company that posted it in my book...
    i can't even count times i had to handhold CCNAs and CCNPs (don't even bother to remember MS cert holders) for very basic config tasks: "Now disable CDP on LAN facing interface of the router you're installing and stop sh*&^ng useless frames into my network every 30 seconds!"
    and in case you're wondering - i do hold LPI Linux 101: took it for free at LinuxCon 10 years ago - it was a paper exam. :-P
    and no - it's not on my resume...
    • It depends

      I agree that certs are pretty useless for proving competence.

      However while I was working as a freelance consultant, I think having a lot of certs in a range of technologies opened doors for me that probably would've stayed closed otherwise.

  • Of course none of that is Linux

    Of course anything you're doing on the command line is not Linux and is actually a GNU Unix utility certification. Memorizing commands isn't particularly useful either.

    What makes an expert is understanding how operating systems and network protocols work in general. Once you have that base, it really doesn't matter which one you're using and you can integrate multiple platforms. One common shortcoming I see is backup and recovery. People seem to think just copying files to another location is effective backup but it offers no protection against corruption, hacking, or a disgruntled employee. It's also helpful to understand how databases work even if it's not a direct responsibility.
    Buster Friendly
    • Uh!

      There is no GNU Unix utility certification
      • I think you missed the point there

        The point there was the software this "Linux" certification is testing you on is exactly the same as any number of Unix operating systems. Most of it started before there was a Linux. We messed with slackware in the early days so we could get something like our expensive SunOS and Irix work systems at home on cheap intel hardware.
        Buster Friendly
  • "Engineer"

    Using engineer is asking for complaints from Engineer groups. They don't like it. Remember MCSE?
    • I'd like to see a real software engineer

      Personally I'd like to see a real industry standardized software engineering certification just like other engineering. You need a rigorous certification to design a drainage ditch yet anyone off the street can write code for a stock exchange.
      Buster Friendly
      • Actually, no they can't.

        Besides needing an excellent foundation in accounting, they also need to understand databases, real time response, networking, distributed applications, and legal knowledge of the stock markets...

        And most of that gets covered by a combined MBA/accounting degree with a focus on information technology...

        Which is not someone "off the street".
  • Elitism?

    "Our new Certification Program will enable employers to easily identify Linux talent when hiring and uncover the best of the best.”

    I personally feel this deviates from the point of open-source, which is to encourage growth and eliminate exclusivity. This is definitely the Microsoft model, but with a new coat of paint. I work with other Microsoft developers who groan about that side of the business (the certifications). It's unnecessary. I'd like to think a good interviewer will know the right questions to ask in order to properly assess the people they're hiring. Therefore, this whole thing sounds like an HR issue, not an expertise issue.

    There are plenty of developers out there who don't understand Design Patterns, memory management, command-line navigation, or other software-related things. In my opinion, that's okay. There's no problem with needing to learn more.

    My fear is that something like this will promote an "elitist jerk" mentality within the Linux community (which may already exist, for all I know). This is something I think we need to continue to walk away from. The inherent philanthropy of open-source comes from the fact that it enables everybody, not just a handful of people. That's the goal.
    • Agreed!

      This will foster an elitism attitude that indeed does exist in the FOSS community. If they want this to be truly beneficial and actually find the best of the best as they say, they should give the exam and certs for free. The "best of the best" may not have $300 USD. These exams should adhear to the standards of the best free software and be truly free or they may be omitting the most skilled and passionate linux users from being considered competent.