Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin and edX CEO and MIT professor Anant Agarwal answered questions in a live Twitter chat yesterday about the free Intro to Linux training course that will be available on the edX online learning platform starting around Aug. 1.
The course will make basic Linux training materials available to anyone, anywhere, who has Internet access and a desire to learn Linux. It will also be one of the first non-university courses offered on edX and one of the first MOOCs (massive open online course) devoted to Linux.
The chat attracted dozens of great questions from participants interested in learning more about free IT and computer science training opportunities, Linux career prospects, the format and content of the Intro to Linux course, and much more.
In case you missed it, below are some of the highlights of the chat in question and answer format. You are also welcome to send your questions to us on Twitter at @LinuxFoundation or in the comments below.
Intro to Linux Course Details
When is this course expected to start and what will it cover?
Zemlin: The course starts around August 1st and will cover both command line and graphical perspectives. Key topics include using the command line, text editors, bash scripting, security and much more. Keep an eye on the edX website.
Is any prior experience in Linux required?
Zemlin: No prior experience required.
How long does it take to complete?
Zemlin: We expect a typical user to take 40-50 hours to finish the course.
What distros will you be covering?
Zemlin: The course will build skills across three major distros: Fedora, Debian and SUSE. The course supports any distro within the three major families, not any one specific distro.
Are Ubuntu and Mint close enough to Debian for the purposes of the course?
Zemlin: Yes. Ubuntu and Mint are close enough.
Will Ubuntu servers and VM's (virtual machines) be outside the scope of the class?
Zemlin: Those are more advanced topics we address in other courses through Linux Foundation training.
Do we need to have Linux for the course? Will live boot be sufficient?
Zemlin: Just live boot from USB or CD Rom...or install Linux in a virtual machine.
What kind of assignments should we expect for homework / quizzes?
Zemlin: There will be activities, games and labs (with solutions).
Will we be able to ask our queries and problems during the session?
Zemlin: We will have an edX discussion board available. Check demo101 on edX to see how it works.
What equipment do we need for the course ? (such as microphone,webcam...)
Agarwal: You will need a webcam when you sign up for a verified certificate, but otherwise all you need is the will to learn and a laptop.
Will there be a syllabus of the material covered available before the start date?
Zemlin: A more detailed syllabus will be available May 1. You can see the course outline here.
Can we meet Linus Torvalds or Richard Stallman during the course?
Zemlin: We may have a surprise for you.
Linux Job Opportunities
— jzemlin (@jzemlin) April 3, 2014
After taking this course, what jobs or positions would I be able to get?
Zemlin: The course is the first step to a Linux career. You can also start contributing to Linux anytime. Check out #mylinuxjob to learn more about positions. According to Dice, pro's with Linux knowledge make more money than other IT pro's.
If you were hiring and came across a certification from Edx would that be worth enough to employ?
Agarwal: Employers are increasingly telling us they like seeing these certs.
Zemlin: No certificate is needed to get a Linux job, just knowledge and passion.
I've been in the IT industry since 1997, will this class gain me any advantage if I decide to look for a Linux-specific job?
Zemlin: Yes. this course can help you learn Linux and find a Linux-specific job. There are tons of them.
Do you think in the near future it will be possible to prepare for a career with only MOOCs?
Agarwal: We're moving towards programs and sequences of MOOCs called XSeries to show mastery in a discipline.
What's the state of Linux in general?
Zemlin: The state of linux is strong. 10,000 developers from 1,000 companies are building it every day and Linux adoption on the rise. See adoption stats in this enterprise user report.
edX Course Credit
Does this involve testing after modules, and or an end test, and do credentials result from completion?
Agarwal: Yes, there will be a verified certificate of achievement if you successfully complete the course. Verified certification involves a webcam check against your photo ID. Honor code certificate does not involve a check.
Is there only a verified certificate option to this or the honor code one too?
Agarwal: Yes, there will be an honor code certificate for the Linux MOOC as well.
Will the honor code certificate be good on the resume too?
Anant: You can always take the honor code certificate for free and that will be good on your resume, too, or LinkedIn, Facebook or Google+.
What's the difference between the honor code certificate and free course?
Agarwal: You can audit the course with all the materials for free, or you can sign up for a free honor code certificate. The honor code or audit are both free. Audit the course if you are only interested in parts of the course. Take the honor course if you are interested in completing the course and earning the honor code certificate if you pass.
Are you intending to make any other free/subsidized courses based on the success/failure of this?
Zemlin: We will decide about offering other MOOCs after we see how the first one goes.
Course Preparation and Linux Experience
— The Linux Foundation (@linuxfoundation) April 3, 2014
What's your advice for those just starting out and incredibly intimidated by programming languages like C/C++, or UNIX/Linux in general?
Will an experienced user gain any benefits from this or is this purely aimed at new users?
Zemlin: The course is foundational. Experienced folks will find it helpful as a resource for newer employees but not for them.
How can I prepare for the course?
Zemlin: The course is designed for beginners so no prep is required. Follow @linuxfoundation for more Linux information. But one way you can prep is to check out the Learn Linux section on @LinuxDotCom: bit.ly/1hkvTYZ.
Is there a reference or suggested textbook?
Zemlin: We recommend joining discussion boards and local meetups rather than textbooks.
What is overall goal for the course? Is it meant to address a skills gap, or as a gentle intro to Linux for those who are new?
Zemlin: We hope to increase access to learning Linux for the masses. Linux runs Amazon, Facebook, Google, the majority of the stock markets, Android, CERN, most modern TV's – most of modern society. We need more people with skills to run those systems.
How can I learn about all the script types such as perl, python and bash?
Zemlin: This course covers bash in some detail. It might be a good starting point for you.
Agarwal: You can take MITx 6.00x for python. Also check out HarvardX CS50x on @edXOnline.
Will you get into embedded linux?
This course focuses primarily on foundational knowledge of Linux. Embedded Linux is a more advanced topic, though we do offer classes on that.
Is The Linux Certification Track LPIC 1, 2, 3 somehow equal to it?
LFS101x is a training course that would help prepare someone for the LPIC-1 exam, though additional training would be needed for the more advanced topics.
Is the coursework instructor-led or self-paced?
It is entirely self-paced, though there will be community discussion boards where you can interact with others taking the course.
How much audio-visual training is there? Are there subtitles to translate non-English and understand everything that is taught?
Visuals will be used wherever possible but users will need to know English to truly benefit from the course.
Will the editor vi or vim be taught?
Yes, vim is covered in a chapter on Text Editors.
Will course materials (videos) be enabled for download in areas with poor Internet connectivity?
Course videos are only available for streaming.
How much will we be covering directory organization/management and the importance/danger of root access?
There is a whole chapter on File Operations and another one on Security, which also covers use of Root.
How much will it help us learn skills needed to develop applications for Linux?
This course focuses primarily on foundational knowledge of Linux. Application development is a more advanced topic, though we do offer classes on that.
Does the course cover OpenStack and relatively new software?
This course focuses primarily on foundational knowledge of Linux, so there’s no coverage of advanced topics such as OpenStack, though we do offer classes on that.
Will the course be centered around desktop or server?
Both the GUI and the command line are covered extensively.
I want to be a software engineer. Will it be helpful for me to take this course?
If you are unfamiliar with Linux but interested in areas such as application development for Linux or Android then this course serves as a good introduction to the world of Linux.