Linux operating system (OS) is used by many users both at home and at the office: it is running on personal computers, mobile devices, and web server systems on-premise, hosted or in the cloud. So, why so many Linux addicts? Free, open-source and with a community of enthusiastic supporters and experts, Linux is the choice of many for private and commercial purposes, as it allows total control and customization capabilities.
It is important for IT professionals, then, to acquire competency and expertise in handling this popular OS as they might be asked to assume responsibilities that include installing, configuring, and maintaining the Linux servers and workstations in roles like Administrator, Security Researcher or Ethical Hacker, just to name a few. It is a good idea to consider an infrastructure-specific certification, like the CompTIA Linux+ certification, a vendor-neutral credential that “covers everything from how to configure systems and navigate command lines to how to customize the environment and create simple scripts,” as mentioned by Teresa Sears who guides the development of CompTIA’s portfolio of IT skills certifications.
An Overview of CompTIA Linux+
On April 2010, CompTIA and the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) created a standardized Linux certification program. “Under the terms of the agreement CompTIA [adopted] LPIC-1 exams (LPI-101 and LPI-102) for the new CompTIA Linux + Powered by LPI certification.” At that time, the CompTIA LX0-101 and LX0-102 exams were launched, and those passing the CompTIA Linux+ powered by LPI tests qualified for both the CompTIA certification and the LPIC-1 certification.
Linux+ offers a comprehensive approach to designing, deploying, and managing Linux systems and provides the basic steps for a career as systems administrator tasked with the management of a Linux environment. The skills covered by the test range from installation, GNU and Unix commands, file systems, scripts, shells, and data management, to user interfaces, administration of accounts and groups, and networking fundamentals.
CompTIA Linux+’s candidates are actually required to pass 2 tests. The prerequisite LX0-103 and the LX0-104. Both tests contain 60 multiple choice and fill-in-the-blank questions to be answered in less than 90 minutes and are passed with a score of 500 (on a scale of 200 to 800). Recommended experience: CompTIA A+, CompTIA Network+ and 12 months of Linux administration. Tests are available in English, German, Portuguese, Spanish and cost $206/€150/GPB 130 (as of May 2018).
The exams in general cover the following topics:
- System configuration – Maintaining and configuring systems (Linux-based servers and network hardware and peripherals…). Configuring storage devices, knowing about coldplug and hotplug devices and understanding of terms like – /sys, – /proc, – /dev, – modprobe, – lsmod, – lspci, – lsusb. The test also covers in depth all installation procedures and various package management information.
- The command line interface – Consists of the command line to manage files and processes; tests the understanding of the booting sequence and common commands that can be used at that time and what services are available.
- Scripting basics – Covers writing scripts and performing basic SQL data manipulation.
- Network settings and services – Includes the setup and configuring of new systems’ settings and services, in addition to troubleshooting server related issues.
- System security – Involves securing Linux computer systems and implementing solutions adhering to the security standards.
Linux+ Exam Domains – LX0-103:
System Architecture (14%)
- Determine and configure hardware settings
- Boot the system
- Change runlevels/boot targets and shutdown or reboot system
Linux Installation and Package Management (18%)
- Design hard disk layout
- Install a boot manager
- Manage shared libraries
- Use Debian package management
- Use RPM and YUM package management
GNU and Unix Commands (43%)
- Work on the command line
- Process text streams using filters
- Perform basic file management
- Use streams, pipes, and redirects
- Create, monitor, and kill processes
- Modify process execution priorities
- Search text files using regular expressions
- Perform basic file editing operations using vi
Devices, Linux Filesystems, Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (25%)
- Create partitions and file systems
- Maintain the integrity of file systems
- Control mounting and unmounting of file systems
- Manage disk quotas
- Manage file permissions and ownership
- Create and change hard and symbolic links
- Find system files and place files in the correct location
Linux+ Exam Domains – LX0-104:
Shells, Scripting and Data Management (17%)
- Customize and use the shell environment
- Customize or write simple scripts
- SQL data management
User Interfaces and Desktops (8%)
- Install and configure X11
- Set up a display manager
Administrative Tasks (20%)
- Manage user and group accounts and related system files
- Automate systems administration tasks by scheduling jobs
- Localization and internationalization
Essential System Services (17%)
- Maintain system time
- System logging
- Mail transfer agent (MTA) basics
- Manage printers and printing
Networking Fundamentals (23%)
- Fundamentals of Internet protocols
- Basic network configuration
- Basic network troubleshooting
- Configure client-side DNS
- Perform security administration tasks
- Set up host security
- Securing data with encryption
How to Sign Up for the Exam?
When ready, professionals can head over to the CompTIA Marketplace and purchase the exam voucher that is needed to sign up for the test. Once they have purchased the CompTIA Linux+ (Powered by LPI) Voucher, they will need to find a testing location and schedule a session at a Pearson VUE testing center which is the authorized provider of CompTIA exams. Testers will be required to sign in to their certification account to make the appointment for the Linux+ exam.
The candidates will then receive a confirmation email with registration details as well as additional info that they will need to provide to the testing center. “Voucher must be used to schedule and sit for the exam on or before the expiration date. The specific expiration date will be sent with the voucher number via email. All sales of exam vouchers are final, no exceptions.”
After completing the examination, testers will receive an additional email about whether they passed.
Who Should Earn the CompTIA Linux+ Certification and Why?
As CompTIA highlights, Linux skills are a key requisite to progress in a career as Network Administrator but also as Technical Support Specialist, Web Administrator and Systems Administrator. However, many other professional figures could benefit from the knowledge acquired while preparing for such certification.
In fact, being a certified professional in Linux can aid IT practitioners to advance in their career, change jobs (for example taking the plunge into pen testing and ethical hacking) but also increase their ability to be well versed in a variety of OS support skills. Employers, instead, can use this certification to further screen professionals, if assigned a role in troubleshooting and supporting Linux/UNIX operating systems which are skills companies are now hoping to find in the resource they are hiring.
Therefore, to kickstart your career as a Linux System Administrator, Programmer or any other Technical IT Staff, CompTIA Linux+ certification might be worth pursuing, especially since this is a field always in demand for such talent, as proved by the latest Linux Jobs Report. Positions available can also support interesting salaries: up to $74,168 per year, as per the PayScale.com info for Linux Systems Administrator, and as high as $85,863 for CompTIA Linux+ certification holders, according to ITCareerFinder.com.
What is the Best Way to Train for the Linux+ Exam?
There is a large number of resources for professionals at any level of Linux proficiency. In fact, even those who are complete beginners can find self-paced lessons and e-learning courses from The Linux Foundation. CompTIA, of course, offers its own options: CompTIA Linux+ Powered by Linux Professional Institute Study Guide: Exam LX0-103 and Exam LX0-104, 3rd Edition and CompTIA Linux+ LX0-103 & 104: Complete eLearning Courseware, and Practice Exam. In addition, the CompTIA CertMaster Linux+ Training, a knowledge assessment, and certification training companion tool reinforces and tests what professionals know and closes knowledge gaps.
However, InfoSec Institute’s Linux+ Training Boot Camp is a great place to start. “This is a five-day course to prepare professionals for the Linux+ exam. Topics covered include Linux configuration, management, and troubleshooting.
Ethical Hacking Training – Resources (InfoSec)
Another option is the Linux Triple Certificate Training, which includes CompTIA’s Linux+, Linux Professional Institute’s LPIC and the SUSE Certified Linux Administrator (CLA) certifications that are all included in a five-day boot camp. The CompTIA Linux+ Online, instead, covers all fundamental aspects of Linux administration. Then there is Intense School’s Linux+ Boot Camp that covers all the objectives for the certification, with detailed exam preparation and lessons to train for the challenging exam in a 5-day course; it provides an all-inclusive immersion experience.
For those interested in training on using Red Hat Linux there’s InfoSec Institute’s RHCE Boot Camp or RHCSA Boot Camp; otherwise, there’s Intense School Boot Camp for the RHCSA® Exam as well as a Boot Camp for the RHCE® Exam. Those who would like to pursue a certification as Red Hat Enterprise Linux System Administrator will gain skills in areas relevant to its deployment, configuration, and administration across a wide range of environments and deployment scenarios.
So, why earn your Linux+ with InfoSec? It is “the only Linux training course currently on the market that emphasizes both hands-on skills training and certification preparation,” as InfoSec Institute avows. What’s more, the training provider has Linux-related courses for real-time learning where there are also the practice tests and assessments found at SkillSet.com. At this site, for example, one can find training to successfully pass the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) Exam (EX200). (See SKILLSET RHCSA-Managing Security or RHCSA.)
For a professional working in or seeking a position involving Linux and/or UNIX computers and infrastructures, a CompTIA Linux+ certification is affirmed to be a great chance to validate knowledge, refresh skills and prove competency. The cert has proved to be highly valued among Linux pros and employers seeking the next-generation of Linux talent.
What’s next? Although the certification is good for life and does not need to be renewed, as a certified Linux pro, attending a conference is an excellent opportunity to learn directly from other experienced Linux professionals. In addition, CPE credits can be collected by attending any number of events held by the Linux Foundation (LinuxCon): Linux Security Summit (LSS), for instance, which is a technical forum for collaboration between Linux developers, researchers, and end users that’s being held August 27 – 28, 2018 (Time: 9:00am – 5:00pm and Location: Vancouver Convention Centre – West Building) is one such occasion and is just days prior to the Open Source Summit North America on August 29-31, 2018 in Vancouver, Canada. (To attain info on the summit: #linuxsecuritysummit or #ossummit) Here, conference-goers have an opportunity to learn about the latest in open source technologies and discuss the state of Linux technology.
In addition, to advance even further in Linux knowledge, LPI offers two additional levels of certification that can be achieved after passing Linux+/LPIC-1,” which are:
- LPIC-2 (LPI Level 2 – Linux Engineer), which tests additional system and network administration concepts.
- LPIC-3 (LPI Level 3 – Linux Enterprise Professional), which tests one of three specific concept areas of your choice: Security, OpenLDAP/Samba, and virtualization/clustering.
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