CompTIA Linux+ XK0-004 – what changed with this cert and test?

March 25, 2020 by Daniel Brecht

Introduction: How Linux fits into an IT career

It is becoming increasingly valuable for an IT professional to have advanced Linux skills, as employers are on the lookout for qualified open-source talents. Those with true Linux competency are actually in short supply, so this might be the right time to hone those skills and look for positions where they are in high demand.

Today, a lot of attention is placed on DevOps and open source, and Linux knowledge can truly make the difference when applying for positions. Are you ready to embark or continue on your Linux journey? If so, you’re bound to find many open doors for your IT career as security analyst or system and network administrator, if not as programmer and developer.

Why it’s important to learn Linux

Linux is one of the most popular platforms today, so there are several good reasons for becoming familiar with this operating system (OS) that has seen a tremendous tech job growth everywhere since the 90s. Associated with desktop systems, large servers and supercomputers, if not used in mobile or cloud computing environments or meant for IoT devices, blockchain technologies or DevOps developments, this OS is far from being outdated. It has always been found to be more adaptable to the needs of users and even businesses.

Linux is truly scalable and portable thanks to its UNIX roots, but has managed to prove itself still more secure in comparison with other OSes, which has made it the obvious choice for companies building their own infrastructure. Because Linux works in many environments and distros, it is obvious that an IT professional should acquire direct, hands-on knowledge of it to be ready to manage systems in any work sites.

“Linux is all around us,” says CompTIA instructor Jason Eckert, who goes on to tell how we all are most likely already using Linux on a daily basis without even knowing it.

“Linux is very valuable and constantly evolving,” writes J.R. Rivers at Network World, which he says is why you should learn it now.

How the CompTIA Linux+ certification fits into your IT career

A new version of CompTIA Linux+ is specifically tailored for the IT pro who will want to acquire competency and expertise in handling this popular OS. These pros might be asked to assume responsibilities that include installing, configuring and maintaining servers and workstations in roles like administrator or technical support specialist.

“Because Linux is used in so many different ways, having Linux skills (and certifications) gives you an array of career options, ensuring interesting tasks with the potential to grow into advanced areas of IT or management,” says Oliver Bailey, Linux Kernel and Embedded Systems Developer, as well as a CompTIA SME and Certification Advisory Council member. Consequently, “getting a Linux certification to validate your skills can enable you to shift into an area of almost unlimited growth, opportunity and professional rewards.”

This certification is especially geared towards a system administrator who is beginning his or her career and who may be tasked with the management of Linux in various environments. Earning a credential builds on their skills to qualify for job roles involved in the configuration, systems operation and maintenance, scripting, troubleshooting and obviously security for all major distributions of Linux.

Linux+ exam objectives

Before mentioning details of the XK0-004 exam, it is important to first list what changes have recently occurred to the CompTIA Linux+/LPIC-1 certification curriculum.

Until now, CompTIA has offered the “Linux+ Powered by LPI” certification. However, this last year, the partnership between CompTIA and Linux Professional Institute (LPI) has ended. CompTIA has now released its own “Linux+” certification which is completely independent of LPI. Linux+ is no longer reciprocal with LPIC-1 as of October 1, 2019.

The divorce was probably not painless. In fact, LPI states that “the new CompTIA Linux+ certification [based on the XK0-004 exam] indicates a significant departure from the previous program that was based on LPIC-1 [the first of a three-tier, comprehensive jobs-oriented Linux skills assessment program]. It covers less material and as a result goes from two exams to one.” LPI also warns that “the exam development process no longer relies on LPI’s global community of open source experts to maintain quality, completeness and relevance to the evolution of Linux.”

Debra B. McCraw, Senior Manager and Content Marketing Strategist that oversees CompTIA’s IT Career News blog, writes that the new CompTIA Linux+ has been completely revamped to reflect where the technology is going (see exam description), plus testing the fundamental usage and administrative tasks that are common to nearly all Linux distributions and UNIX flavors to match current IT industry needs.

So what’s new in CompTIA Linux+? First of all, of course, candidates are no longer required to pass two tests to get Linux+-certified. The new single version includes performance-based questions and is able to test hands-on skills. It is therefore geared towards professionals with 9 to 12 months of Linux experience.

The XK0-004, as mentioned, is relevant to all major distributions of Linux and therefore is appealing to a larger number of IT practitioners whatever their goal is: from advancing in their current jobs or taking the plunge into selected fields. Undeniably, this certification can open doors to a handful of rewarding careers in the Linux world.

The table below lists the domains measured by this examination and the extent to which they are represented:

Hardware and System Configuration 21%
Systems Operation and Maintenance 26%
Security 19%
Linux Troubleshooting and Diagnostics 20%
Automation and Scripting 14%

Table 1. CompTIA Linux+ Cert Exam Objectives Version 5.0 (Exam Number: XK0-004)

Note: Professionals who have been studying for the CompTIA Linux+ LX0-103/104 test objectives (which expired on October 1, 2019) make the switch and prepare for the new exam (XK0-004) that will be the new standard.

Details of the CompTIA Linux+ exam

Exam Code XK0-004
Launch date April 2, 2019
Exam description CompTIA Linux+ validates the skills of IT professionals with hands-on experience configuring, monitoring, and supporting servers running the Linux operating system. The new exam has an increased focus on the following topics: security, kernel modules, storage and visualization, device management at an enterprise level, git and automation, networking and firewalls, server side and command line, server (versus client-based) coverage, troubleshooting and SELinux.
Number of questions Maximum of 90 questions
Type of questions Performance-based, multiple-choice (single response), multiple response and fill-in-the-blank
Length of test 90 minutes
Passing score 720 (on a scale of 100 to 900)
Recommended experience CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and 12 months of Linux admin experience
Languages English (at launch). Japanese, Portuguese and Spanish (coming soon)
Retirement TBD — Usually three years after launch
Price $319 USD (See all pricing)

Linux+ certification training

To get the essential hands-on Linux experience that you need to apply towards a CompTIA Linux+ certification and your career, it’s best to find out more and explore all training options.

  • eLearning with CertMaster Learn™ for Linux+ — An interactive and self-paced option that includes instructional lessons with videos, practice questions and performance-based questions
  • Interactive Labs with CertMaster Labs™ for Linux+ — Dedicated to preparing candidates for the hands-on aspects of the CompTIA Linux+ exam objectives
  • Exam Prep with CertMaster Practice™ for Linux+ — An option that can help candidates to close knowledge gaps and prepare for the CompTIA exam
  • Study Guides for Linux+ —Essential! Offers 100% coverage of the CompTIA exam objectives
  • Instructor-led training — An opportunity for professionals who’d rather not self-train but are looking for in-classroom or live online training

All that remains is for credential holders to earn Continuing Education Units (CEUs) to maintain their designation status. CompTIA, for example, has web-based seminars (such as Cloud Security in 2020, Ethical Hacking Using a Weaponized Operating System, IT Pro Webinar: DDoS 2.0 and Attack Recognition and Incident Response: A Hands-On Overview) to fill this requirement. In fact, these on-demand seminars have been each approved for 1 CEU for the Linux+ certification.


In today’s job market, you’ll find many IT careers founded on Linux skills. Adding a certification could progress your career in jobs such as a system or network administrator, and more.

In fact, “80 percent of hiring managers now consider Linux professionals to be at a premium,” as according to the Linux Foundation, and “two-thirds of all companies with a stake in the future of IT consider the importance of finding professionals with open-source experience to be above any other position,” per LinuxInsider.

What’s more, the salary trend is looking quite bright where Linux distribution comes into play. Therefore, it is clear then just how the CompTIA Linux+ certification can be beneficial to acquire. The new XK0-004 version, appropriately, offers official recognition of one’s competence through a single exam and, in the intentions of CompTIA, promises better alignment with industry requirements and expectations.



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Posted: March 25, 2020
Daniel Brecht
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Daniel Brecht has been writing for the Web since 2007. His interests include computers, mobile devices and cyber security standards. He has enjoyed writing on a variety of topics ranging from cloud computing to application development, web development and e-commerce. Brecht has several years of experience as an Information Technician in the military and as an education counselor. He holds a graduate Certificate in Information Assurance and a Master of Science in Information Technology.

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