The Linux Foundation offers many resources for developers, users, and administrators of Linux systems. One of the most important offerings is its Linux Certification Program. The program is designed to give you a way to differentiate yourself in a job market that's hungry for your skills.
How well does the certification prepare you for the real world? To illustrate that, the Linux Foundation will be spotlighting some of those who have recently passed the certification examinations. These testimonials should serve to help you decide if either the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator or the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer certification is right for you. Our first profile shines the spotlight brightly on Diego Xirinachs.
How did you become interested in Linux and open source?
I was never a happy Windows user. I even used to support Windows desktops a long time ago, so I knew first hand the pains of having to deal with viruses and endless "Your system needs to reboot to finish installing updates." One day during a troubleshooting session, I needed a way to move some particular files from a non-booting PC over to another, and that's where I found Knoppix. Booting it from USB was a breeze and it did the job flawlessly. I immediately became impressed with how such a good and useful product could be free.
To satisfy my curiosity, I started digging into what other Linux variants were available. To my surprise, there was so much choice it was HARD to pick one. I ordered an Ubuntu: "Linux for Human Beings" version 4 CD and wiped out my current Windows laptop and from that point forward, I have never looked back. After Ubuntu, I installed and tried Gentoo, CentOS, Slitaz, Bodhi, and ultimately choose Arch Linux, which is my distro of preference for the simplicity and vanilla packaging approach. I think open source enables such a massive collaboration that no company, regardless of its size, can achieve on its own.
What Linux Foundation course did you achieve certification in? Why did you select that particular course?
Linux Foundation Certified Engineer. In my daily work, I do much more than regular system administration, I also need to think about new solutions to problems, and how Linux/Open Source can be used in those contexts. In particular, I manage, configure and deploy Linux virtual firewalls, so the objectives and competencies of the LFCE seemed more appropriate.
What are your career goals? How do you see Linux Foundation certification helping you achieve those goals and benefiting your career?
My career goals include becoming a technical leader on Linux Networking technologies. Having a certification straight from the company that hosts Linux and even employs the Linux creator is a statement about my real Linux skills, and proves my skills are not tied to any distribution in particular.
What other hobbies or projects are you involved in? Do you participate in any open source projects at this time?
I'm always learning new things. My last hobbyist project was to make a Raspberry Pi as a portable router/hostspot. I would stick a cable on the Ethernet port, and the wireless dongle I have connected to the USB port on the Pi will pick that up and make a hotspot using the wired connection as a gateway. Very useful!
Also I like keeping a separate SD Card in which I have some old arcade games that I like to play from time to time (Punch Out!!!).
Do you plan to take future Linux Foundation courses? If so, which ones?
Software Defined Networking with OpenDaylight: This is a hot topic that I would like to earn solid understanding of. I see many advantages in SDN.
In what ways do you think the certification will help you as a systems administrator in today's market?
More than that certification itself, getting prepared for it by studying all of the domain competencies gave me a much broader view of the tools available for Linux and its potential. Working for a big enterprise, you mostly focus on one aspect of Linux and don't have the opportunity of exploring other areas. In my case, I'm all about networking and it would never be a requirement for me to know httpd or email services. However, they are useful in a ton of circumstances and the certification gives you an opportunity to study, learn and add those skills to your skill set!
What Linux distribution do you prefer and why?
For desktop/personal use, Arch Linux. For enterprise/servers, it would be CentOS.
Arch Linux rolling release cycle is a winner for me. The fact that I can get the latest Linux kernel version as soon as possible, along with a TON of other packages coming directly from upstream, makes it perfect to keep up with what’s coming for the other distros with slow release cycles (like CentOS). Systemd for example, has been part of Arch Linux for years now, and it’s just being released in CentOS 7, so you already know how to manage it even before its release into the enterprise world.
Are you currently working as a Linux systems administrator? If so, what role does Linux play?
Yes! I manage, deploy and configure Linux virtual firewalls for cloud customers. Firewalls run in an HA setup using Keepalived and custom scripting to manage stateful failover between HA members.
Where do you see the Linux job market growing the most in the coming years?
Big Data/Analytics. The scale that you need to analyze vast amounts of data makes Linux a perfect choice for most workloads.
What advice would you give those considering certification for their preparation?
Spin up your own VMs, set a test lab of your own, work through each of the domain competencies one by one, and most importantly, learn WHERE to find the information you need during the exam, learn which man pages have some example commands you can use to speed up the initial configuration steps. The certification is not about memorizing every single command along with the correct flags you need to use, it’s about getting the job done with the tools you have at that moment. Some useful man pages to keep in mind:
man iptables: example sections
man 5 postconf: all possible directives you can have for postfix
install the package httpd-manual, then go tohttp://localhost/manual using your favorite terminal browser (like elinks) to get some example Virtualhosts directives you can use without having to remember every single bit of information.