Professional online Linux classes for all - and the first one is free

Want a good-paying Linux job, but don't have the skills? The Linux Foundation is setting up a new program of online classes for you.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

More than nine out of ten IT hiring managers plan to hire Linux professionals in the next six months.. That's great news... if you're a Linux pro.. If you're not, you're out of luck. But The Linux Foundation wants to help you.

The Linux Foundation will be using Harvard University and MIT's open-source edX to bring onliine Linux training to one and all.

On March 6th, the Linux Foundation announced it's building a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) program with edX, the non-profit, online learning platform launched in 2012 by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

At the same time, The Linux Foundation is announcing a new Authorized Training Partner program with AT Computing, Enea, and OlinData among its first members. Together, the new MOOC program and Advanced Training Partner program are meant to increase the ways by which Linux professionals can access high-quality, technically advanced, community-based training materials.

While these new training partners will also help supply enterprises with the trained Linux professionals they need, it's the new online training classes that really have my attention. As the Foundation itself states, "talent isn’t bounded by geography, sometimes access to advanced Linux training has been limited. Employers are seeking Linux professionals in a market where not enough exist, while professionals struggle to find affordable, accessible training opportunities to advance their careers."

Best of all for Linux newcomers, the first MOOC class will be Introduction to Linux and it will be available for free. Previously, the course cost $2,500. Other upcoming Linux classes will include Developing Applications for Linux, Linux Kernel Internals and Debugging, Linux Performance Tuning, and OpenStack Cloud Architecture and Deployment. In other words, there will be online classes suitable for software developers; Linux kernel programmers; and system, cloud, and network administrators.

The edX courses are top-of-the-line classes. More than 31 universities have partnered with edX including initial members Harvard, MIT, University of California Berkeley, CalTech, and Cornell. Since it was founded, other top institutions, such as the International Monetary Fund, Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education, and The Smithsonian Institution have joined the edX program. Nearly two million people have accessed its courses online since it launched 18 months ago.

"Our mission is to advance Linux and that includes ensuring we have a talent pool of Linux professionals,” said Jim Zemlin, The Linux Foundation's executive director, in a statement. "To widen that talent pool and give more people access to the opportunities in the Linux community and IT industry, we are making our training program more accessible to users worldwide. We are partnering with the leader in MOOCs to enable this access."

EdX’s MOOC’s have become "an increasingly popular way to provide for unlimited participation and open access to learning material to people anywhere in the world via the web. These programs also provide interactive users forums where students and professors can build communities, similar to the way in which the Linux community collaborates. MOOCs have recently generated enrollments for individual classes of 60,000 or more students."

Anant Agarwal, edX president, added in a statement that, "Linux is the world’s largest collaborative development project, and people everywhere want to understand how it works and how to tap into that massive community to advance their careers and general understanding of how technology today is built. Like edX, Linux is a non-profit, open source initiative, and we are pleased to partner with The Linux Foundation to make their basic learning materials accessible to more people around the globe."

For those who have the opportunity to take a class in person, and prefer that to online classes, the new Linux Foundation Authorized Training Partner Program will also increase access to Linux Foundation training courses by making them available from a variety of training providers around the world, using Linux Foundation Authorized Instructors.

The Linux Foundation will also continue to offer free Linux training resources, scholarships and other resources to ensure it is a rich resource of free Linux technical training for everyone. For more information about The Linux Foundation’s Linux training services, visit The Linux Foundation training site.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention that the best way to start learning Linux is to simply start using it. Almost all Linux distributions are available for free, most have sites that will help you learn the basics of its particular distribution, and more general sites, such as LinuxQuestions, can help even the merest tyro pick up the basics of Linux.

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