Linux Foundation introduces new Linux certifications

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.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

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 Linux.com.

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