Before I started writing about technology, I was a Beltway Bandit. That is, I was an IT contractor working for NASA and the Department of Defense. In those days, my job skills were Unix and mainframe system administrator, database programming, e-mail, and network administration. I never lacked for a job. But that was in the 80s. Today, if you want a job, the skills you need are in the cloud. And, what does the cloud use -- even Microsoft Azure? Linux and open-source. It's that simple.
So, to land a job like that, you need to either learn or prove you have mad open-source developer skills or Linux sysadmin abilities that employers want. You must be able to prove that you can actually walk the walk and not just talk the talk. One way you can prove you've got what it takes is to take and pass well-regarded classes and get certified in these technologies.
The Linux Foundation is an IT certification pioneer, offering its first certification exams back in 2014 in a remote format. Before this, it was virtually unheard of to take an IT certification exam outside of a testing center. The Linux Foundation established verifiable, secure remote proctoring processes, which remain in place. This makes it much easier, especially in the days of the coronavirus pandemic for qualified individuals to obtain certifications without traveling.
Here are some of the best of the best of their class programs. I've focused on the ones leading to certifications because having a certification can always help. Many techies don't respect certifications, but to get a job in IT, you must first get by the human resources gatekeepers. And, if they don't see the certifications they're looking for, you'll never get a chance to show your prospective boss your technical chops.
What's that, you say? You know nothing about Linux? No worries, The Linux Foundation offers this intro MOOC class. It's the most popular of all The Linux Foundation's courses, with almost a million classes given to date. In it, you'll learn:
- A good working knowledge of Linux.
- How to navigate through major Linux distributions.
- System configurations and graphical interface of Linux.
- Basic command-line operations.
- Common Linux applications.
This is a free class, too!
This class is fundamental. It's your starting point for learning essential Linux administration skills. Sure, CompTIA's Linux+ is more basic, and if you have no experience with Linux, I'd start with it. But, if you've used Linux at home or on the job, go for The Linux Foundation class instead.
In it, you'll learn how to administer, configure, and upgrade Linux systems. Specifically, you'll learn how to do admin basics on one of the three major Linux distribution families: Red Hat, SUSE, Debian/Ubuntu. You'll also learn all you need to efficiently build and manage a production Linux infrastructure.
This class costs $499.
Next up in your career path is Linux networking and administration. This is not -- I repeat -- not an easy class or certification. The Linux Foundation requires at least three to five years of Linux experience, and it's not kidding. You don't have to take the Essential of Linux System Administration class first if you're experienced, but I think it wouldn't hurt to take the class and get your LFCS before tackling this program.
It's designed for people wanting to move up in their organization or land a new, more advanced job. The exam is performance-based on the command-line and includes items simulating on-the-job scenarios.
This class covers:
- How to design, deploy, and maintain a network running under Linux.
- How to administer network services.
- The skills to create and operate a network in any major Linux distribution.
- How to securely configure the network interfaces.
- How to deploy and configure file, web, email, and name servers.
It costs $499.
This class isn't required for certification, but perhaps it should be. Linux is more secure than most operating systems, but that doesn't mean it's invulnerable. It's not. Hackers attack it every day, and some of them are successful.
Linux Security Fundamentals is a MOOC class. It covers ways to protect the Linux kernel and various Linux security systems such as SELinux. It's designed both to make you aware of the security problems Linux is prone to and how to defend against attackers.
Linux Security Fundamentals will cost you $299.
The far, more advanced Linux Security, will run you $3,250. But ask yourself if you're in charge of a major Linux network: Would you rather pay now and defend yourself properly or explain to the CEO that you need to pay a ransomware pirate?
Linux Security is taught by expert instructors. In it, you'll learn about the many risks and threats that are out there, and learn how to use best practices and other open-source tools to mitigate or counteract those threats. And, come the day some attacker does get through, it will show you what you need to know to detect and recover from those attacks. This class is for people who are already expert Linux sysadmins and know their way around security. If you're one of those people, I highly recommend it.
Unless you've been under a rock, you know that IT is now all about containers and orchestrating them with Kubernetes. Whether you're new to technology or you predate the Docker revolution, you need to know about these technologies today.
Containers Fundamentals is just what it says it is. It teaches you how to do container and image operations with different container runtimes, manage containers network and storage volumes, and how to build and run multi-container applications with Docker, LXC, LXD, and so on.
Container Fundamentals will cost $299
Intro to Kubernetes will get you well on your way to understanding its basic principles -- and those aren't changing. You'll also get some hands-on experience with Kubernetes using the lightweight miniKube on your own PC.
Introduction to Kubernetes is free.
To really work with Kubernetes, Kubernetes Fundamentals is the class for you. In it, you'll learn how to use this container orchestration program and it's most necessary add-ons for serious work such as Ingress and Helm. After this class, you can -- and should -- take the Kubernetes Certified Administrator exam.
Kubernetes Fundamentals will put you back $299. Bundled with the exam, it's $499. With how Kubernetes is taking over the IT world, it will be money well spent.
One of The Linux Foundation's newest set of classes is one of the best.
The Bootcamp bundles self-paced eLearning courses with certification exams and dedicated instructor support for a comprehensive and well-rounded educational program. As you would imagine for a Bootcamp from The Linux Foundation, it starts with Linux at the operating system layer. Since even Azure is now predominantly Linux, this actually makes good sense. From Linux, it moves up the stack, covering DevOps, cloud, containers, and Kubernetes.
Specifically, it comprises the following classes and exams:
- Essentials of Linux System Administration (LFS201)
- Linux Networking and Administration (LFS211)
- Containers Fundamentals (LFS253)
- DevOps and SRE Fundamentals: Implementing Continuous Delivery (LFS261)
- Kubernetes Fundamentals (LFS258)
- Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator Exam (LFCS)
- Certified Kubernetes Administrator Exam (CKA)
You can enroll in The Cloud Engineer Bootcamp now. The standard $999 Bootcamp fee provides unlimited access to the course for one year including all content and labs.
Through June 17, 2020, the Bootcamp is being offered at an introductory fee of $599. Bulk Bootcamp enrollments for companies are also available.
Why take a Linux Foundation class?
As Dice, the leading technology job site, and The Linux Foundation discovered in their latest Open Source Jobs Survey and Report, there's an abundance of open-source jobs. Eight-seven percent of hiring managers are having trouble finding open-source talent -- while hiring open-source talent is now a priority for 83% of employers.
The Linux Foundation's executive director, Jim Zemlin, has also said that open source technology talent is in "high demand," especially as "Linux and other open-source software dominates software development."
It's not just programming, though: DevOps, system administration, help desks -- you name the IT field. There's a demand for Linux and open-source savvy people. A recent Dice survey even found that Linux-smart sysadmins skilled are earning six-figure salaries. With salaries like that, demand is still outracing people with the necessary skills.
There are many Linux and open-source classes out there you can take to develop or hone your skills. Red Hat. Udemy, Coursera, Linux Academy, and CompTIA all offer excellent courses. But taking one from The Linux Foundation can be particularly advantageous. In tech circles, The Linux Foundation is a household name. Everyone knows them.
The Linux Foundation has been able to reach so many students because of its partnership with edX. EdX is the non-profit online learning platform from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Its popular massive open online courses (MOOC) make it possible for you to take classes anywhere in the world on your schedule. The Linux Foundation now offers over 20 MOOCs on the edX platform.
It's not all automated, online classes. The Linux Foundation also offers top-of-the-class, instructor-led courses. These tend to be for more advanced subjects such as Linux Kernel Debugging and Security (LFD440), High Availability Linux Architecture (LFS422), and Open Source Virtualization (LFS462).
Besides taking the classes as one-offs, companies can contract for single classes for their employees or an entire online training program.
Together with the classes, The Linux Foundation also offers certifications. The most popular of these are Linux Certified SysAdmin (LFCA), Linux Certified Engineer (LFCE), Certified Kubernetes Administrator (CKA), and Certified Kubernetes Application Developer.
Looking ahead, The Linux Foundation plans to offer more developer classes. Currently, it offers the Node.js Application Development (LFW211) + JSNAD Exam Bundle. It also recently introduced Open Source Licensing Basics for Software Developers and A Beginner's Guide to Linux Kernel Development.