October 23, 2014

For Anders Aarvik, SysAdmin Certification Proves His Linux Skills

Anders AarvikEven though system administrator Anders Aarvik has been using Linux since he was 11 years old, he doesn't always feel secure in his knowledge. That's why he decided to put his skills to the test with the Linux Foundation Certified Sysadmin exam, he said.

“Sometimes I am unrealistically critical when it comes to myself, so I thought it was a good way to prove to myself that I actually know something about Linux,” Aarvik said.

The exam was, indeed, a challenge, he said, but he passed and is proud of the accomplishment. Here he discusses his background in Linux, why he took the test, how he prepared, and what he plans to do now that he's a Certified Sysadmin.

Linux.com: First, can you tell me a little about yourself? Where do you live and work? What do you do?

Anders Aarvik: I am a young IT person (22 years old). I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, and work as a System Administrator (Jr.) at Solido Hosting A/S. We are a flexible managed hosting company, and there I am working with Linux every day. I am doing various tasks, at the moment a lot of migration projects, but actually almost anything you can imagine. I've been working a lot with Puppet, the ELK stack, some automation/scripting, and just a lot of different common system administration tasks. It is a lot of fun. In my spare time I like to jog, to paint, to watch a lot of movies, to research, to skateboard, and just trying to enjoy life.

How long have you used Linux and how did you get started doing system administration?

I have used Linux since I was 11 years old, when I randomly and almost accidentally installed Kubuntu on my first laptop (a good old IBM Thinkpad, which I still have in my closet, only for nostalgia I guess... still with Kubuntu on it.)

I have been a web developer before, but I started getting really inspired when it comes to Linux when I was working as a technical supporter at another Danish shared hosting company, where I really looked up to the system administrators, and I was in love the first time I was in a shell myself. Then I guess I just naturally and almost subconsciously chased the dream.

How did you get to where you are today?

A lot of things. Mostly just love and passion for what you do, and dreams of course. The human imagination is one of the most powerful forces in the world. On top of that I am also crazy about the Open Source community - the whole philosophy about knowledge sharing, code sharing, free stuff for everyone. It brings so much creativity to IT in general, and pushes people forward!

Why did you decide to get certified by the Linux Foundation?

Sometimes I am unrealistically critical when it comes to myself, so I thought it was a good way to prove to myself that I actually know something about Linux.

What, if anything, did you do to prepare for the exam?

I just jumped into it. No preparation. Just reading the list of what topics I could meet. Other than that... I have been reading some good books the last couple of years on Linux. I can recommend UNIX and Linux System Administration Handbook to everyone.

What did you think of the exam?

I think it was great actually. I was a bit nervous, because it was a weird feeling getting monitored on video, audio, and screen, but with nothing to see on the other end. It felt natural after a couple of minutes though. The tasks were fun. Some really easy, and some really hard - a good balance. I liked that I could not use any resources other than the man-pages, and in-terminal documentation. Usually I am Googling 200 times a day I think, so that was a challenge!

What surprised you, or stood out about the exam? (Did it meet your expectations?)

It was like I hoped.

What's your advice for anyone considering taking the exam to get certified?

If you have a need to prove something to yourself, get certified. It is a fun, but still challenging way. If you have to prove something to others, just think about it, and do it if needed. I guess there is no damage in a bit of certification.

What are you hoping to do with the certification, now that you have it?

Just being proud of it. Nothing else. I am very happy at my current position.

What's your ultimate goal as a Linux professional?

Getting better always. To communicate knowledge with others. To learn from others, and to teach others - having open arms for knowledge. I do not think you can do much more than that! In the end I would like to be a part of a core development team somewhere, at some distro. I have already made a few contributions to some communities, but not code or system administration-wise.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I have a blog about Linux stuff mostly. Feel free to read it at http://aarvik.dk/.

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