Creating a Linux Certification Program – The Next Step LG #34

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  • First, Dave Sifry at Linuxcare,Inc., was kind enough to set up a mailing list to host further discussions on creating a unified Linux certification program.  To subscribe, send a message to:

     with the message:

           subscribe linux-cert    Messages to the discussion list are sent to « »   The list is intended for people who *want* to build a certification program.  We don’t need to another place to discuss whether or not a Linux certification program *should* exist… subscribers to the list should agree that, yes, we want a Linux certification program – now let’s discuss how best to build one.

  • Second, Bruce Dawson from CodeMeta graciously set up a place where I could post pointers for Linux training resources.  It’s at:

  Don’t bother going there yet as I don’t have any real content online. My goal is to build a « Linux Training Alliance » of other training centers that will be offering Linux training with the idea of publicizing schedules, resources, etc.  If you are involved with a training center (commercial, university or nonprofit, etc.), and would be interested, drop me a note.  I expect to have some more ideas there by mid-November.  Check in then…

  • Third, the folks at SAGE (the System Administrator’s Guild, a special technical group within USENIX) have been doing some great work on developing a generic UNIX certification program.  Please check out their work at:

 While it will probably make sense from a marketing perspective to have a separate Linux credential, I personally think our efforts should be at the very least complementary to what SAGE develops – if not coordinated directly with the SAGE work. 

    There will be a block of time on December 10th at the big USENIX LISA conference in Boston, MA, December 9-11, to discuss certification. I’m planning to be there and would be glad to meet others there. More info can be found at

  • Fourth, I just wanted to respond to a number of comments people sent taking issue with my article’s focus on making money offering Linux training.  I make no apologies.  My company is a for-profit training center and I would desperately love to make my living teaching people how to use Linux instead of doing what I am currently doing (teaching people how to use Windows NT!).

    That said, I believe that *any* Linux certification program should be created in such a way as to be affordable and as inexpensive as possible.  Which, if you look at it, is true of Microsoft’s MCSE program.  To become an MCSE, you MUST only spend $600 – 6 exams at $100/each.  That’s it… $600 ($U.S.).  It’s how you prepare for those exams that costs the money. Some people use books, others computer-based training, some the free info on the web – others take training classes. In my opinion, any Linux training program should offer a similar range of options – the actual certification cost should be as minimal as possible.

  • Finally, Tobin Maginnis ( responded to mention the program he has put together for a « Linux Certified System Engineer ». He has a site up at:

  Tobin will have an article in the December issue of the Linux Journal and is also extremely interested in developing a Linux industry-wide certification program.  I encourage you to visit his site and read his material.

  • First off, there’s a web discussion group at the Linux Journal site focused on Linux certification.  It’s at:

    It was created after a November 1997 article by Phil Hughes on the topic.  Please do take a look at it.  If people want to use that forum for discussions versus the « linux-cert » mailing list, I’m certainly open to it.  Mailing lists happen to work better for me personally… but I could work on a web site, too.

  • Quite a number of people (including Robert Hart himself) pointed me to his pages at Red Hat where he describes the program Red Hat is developing:

  He also has posted there a talk he gave at a May 1998 LinuxExpo describing the Red Hat program and their reasons for going their own way.

  • Caldera came out with some more info about their training program. You can learn more at:

 Yes, Caldera took out « » some time ago – it just goes to their main site (

  • Kris Carlier ( wrote in about some courses he is offering in Belgium.  He’s got a web site up at:

  The text is in Dutch, but there are enough English words that you might get the idea… and hey, the dancing penguin is cool!

  • Andreas Neuper wrote in about the SAGE site, but also suggested visiting IBM’s site on certification for an example of another certification program.  It’s at:


  • « I Made Wiryana » replied from Indonesia about efforts there to  promote Linux within Indonesia. He provided two links:

  Do be aware that his site is entirely written in Indonesian! 

  • Several people wrote to suggest that Microsoft’s program was not the one that should be emulated.  I understand their comments (one was, « if we are to emulate anyone, it should NOT be Microsoft! ») but actually think Microsoft has put some good thought into their program.  If you haven’t seen Microsoft’s pages relating to certification, check out:


  • Someone wrote in to say that 6 months ago, he designed a program in Pennsylvania with 3 levels – Certified Linux Administrator, Certified Linux Instructor, Certified Linux Engineer.  He didn’t provide a web page or any other information… and I haven’t been able to find anything… but he’s out there somewhere…
  • Another reader wrote in to ask that the word « Engineer » not be used in any certification program titles as some states/countries regulate who can be called an « Engineer » (reserving the term for people such as Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers). Tough issue, given that so much of the IT industry used the word « engineer »…
  • I happened to stumble on the page for « The Linux Foundation » which is apparently developing two different Linux certification programs – « Certified Linux Administrator » and « Certified Linux Expert ». Their web site indicates that exams are in development and will be offered through Sylvan Prometric (the same as Microsoft, Sun and Novell). More info is at:

  It’s not clear, but it appears there may be a link between this site and Digital Concepts, LLC, whose web site is at:

  It appears they are following Caldera’s plans and will be developing guides for Caldera’s program (see

Other people did point out that this topic has been around for a while. Indeed, through the AltaVista search engine I found pointers to discussions that occurred about setting up a Linux certification program back in 1996.

The issue now is that the momentum of certification within the IT industry just keeps increasing and the responses to my article make me only that much more sure that we need to move now to make sure that we build a unified Linux certification program that we all can get behind and promote with the same energy and enthusiasm that Microsoft promotes the MCSE and Novell promotes the CNE. 

The biggest single item that can kill a Linux certification program is if we in the Linux community wind up with 4 or 5 different separate programs! (Do I hear the UNIX wars again?)  There is strength in numbers – can we build a common program?   Please join me on the mailing list and let’s see if we can give it a shot! Previous Article

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