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, which is designed to give you a way to enhance your skills and differentiate yourself in the job market.
How well does the certification prepare you for the real world? To illustrate that, we will be featuring some people who have recently passed the certification examinations. These testimonials should help you decide if either the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator or the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer certification is right for you. In this latest installment of our series, we talk with Michael Zamot, who has achieved both certifications this year.
How did you become interested in Linux and open source?
My interest in Linux began in primary school (1998) when I found an article in PC Magazine about Corel Linux, and a disc came with it. Unfortunately, the distribution didn't work with my workstation at that time, but this didn't stop me though, as I kept assisting and participating in Linux conferences in my country.
Finally, the first version that worked for me was Mandrake 8.2. My journey was just starting and since then I haven't stopped for a single moment. After Mandrake 8.2, I jumped to Debian GNU/Linux, mostly using the testing branch. Everything changed in 2006 when I found Arch Linux, since then, Arch has been my primary workstation distribution.
What I liked about Linux at that time, even if I didn't understand much, was its philosophy -- that I could play with it, modify it, hack it.
What Linux Foundation course did you achieve certification in? Why did you select that particular course?
I completed LFCS in April and LFCE in November. I chose these two certifications because they represented a challenge to me, based on skill and experience. I saw the topics of each exam and I liked them. It was a good way to test myself and prove to others the skills I have.
Also, Linux is what I use daily. I work supporting and deploying clouds using Linux. It just made sense.
What other hobbies or projects are you involved in? Do you participate in any open source projects at this time?
I've participated in two Free Software yearly events since 2007: Festival Latinoamericano de Instalacion de Software Libre (FliSOL) and Software Freedom Day. In these events, I help by giving workshops, speeches, and user support.
I also teach Linux classes in a local institute. I find it very rewarding to teach; it is a way to give back to the community what they gave to me.
Do you plan to take future Linux Foundation courses? If so, which ones?
My focus with Linux is cloud and virtualization, so the course that I am interested in is Software Defined Networking with OpenDaylight. SDN sees significant usage in OpenStack deployments, and I would like to get a full understanding of network virtualization.
In what ways do you think the certification will help you as a systems administrator in today's market?
Recent polls and interviews show that a lot of companies are looking more and more for Linux professionals, but there a not a lot of prepared system administrators. The best way to show that you are prepared is with certifications, but not just any of them.
Linux Foundation has created hands-on Linux certifications, and this is the best way to show that you are skilled enough. It is not a test where you can memorize and pass; you need to know what you are doing and how to do it in the best way to accomplish your goals.
With the current trend of cloud computing, more and more professional Linux system administrators are needed and the best way to show you are prepared is these type of certifications.
What Linux distribution do you prefer and why?
My preferred desktop Linux distributions are Arch Linux and Gentoo. I tend to prefer Arch Linux for the desktop, because it gives me a lot of choices and total control of my computer. Gentoo is the same but gives me even more control than Archlinux, optimizing and enabling or disabling features I don't need on each package.
In production, as a cloud administrator, I have a bias to Ubuntu Servers (for their LTS) and Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Nearly 60% of OpenStack deployments use Ubuntu Server.
Are you currently working as a Linux systems administrator? If so, what role does Linux play?
Currently, I am an OpenStack Administrator. Linux plays a huge role within OpenStack and with virtualization, having experience with Linux is not an option, but essential. Also, most cloud environments are deployed on a version of Linux (RHEL/CentOS or Ubuntu), and usually most of the components are open source.
Therefore, in my job, I am a full Linux administrator and a OpenStack administrator. The sum total of our job is done in Linux.
Where do you see the Linux job market growing the most in the coming years?
Linux is the most popular operating system in servers and supercomputers. And, it is the de facto cloud operating system. Cloud is a popular trend right now, and with this, Linux administrators are needed! Linux is behind almost every cloud out there, as the engine of the most popular cloud applications. Linux jobs are growing and will continue this way in the forthcoming future. The best way is to be prepared.
What advice would you give those considering certification for their preparation?
Practice, practice, and practice. Linux is not about memorizing. It’s about doing and looking for the best ways to accomplish any goal. And, the only way to know which way is the best is with practice.
What makes Linux Foundation different is their hands-on approach. Be familiar with your system, learn how to answer your own questions within your own system (instead of looking on Google), and enjoy your learning. Linux is just the start of this amazing journey! Good luck!
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