Project support engineer Martin Probst was nervous about how the Linux Foundation's certification exam would work. As one of the first to take the exam back in August, he didn't have much information to go on. But he was confident in the organization's reputation and its promise that the exam would be testing practical knowledge, he said.
“It’s not just learning and remembering some questions or memorizing the 23rd command line parameter of cowsay, like it is for most multiple choice kind of exams,” he said via email.
Linux Foundation exams take place at the command line to demonstrate the skills required in a real-world environment while the clock is ticking.
Choosing the distro for the exam and taking it from home also helped ease his mind, Probst said. He's now proud to have “Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator” (LFCS) on his CV as an indication of his Linux knowledge. Here he tells us more about why he took the exam, how he prepared for it, and what he thought of it.
Linux.com: First, can you tell me a little about yourself? Where do you live and work? What do you do?
Martin Probst: I was born, currently live and work in the beautiful city of Dresden. Dresden is located in the eastern part of Germany in the state Saxony, which is famous for and mostly known as the “Silicon Saxony.” I’m currently working in the ISP field for a hosting provider as a 3rd level/project support engineer. Most of my day I debug and solve problems on our Linux stacks, starting at the application level, going down to the kernel and ending at the core network.
How long have you used Linux and how did you get started doing system administration?
I started using Linux in my apprenticeship as an IT specialist in the public sector about 10 years ago. My first contact with Linux was a Debian Sarge based webserver, where I was responsible for adding some new websites and tools for our intranet. From the first moment I was fascinated about the possibilities the system gave me. If I wanted a tool on this machine, I just typed a command and installed this tool in one step. Until this time I just knew the Windows world, and the hassles to get your stuff installed and managed there. At the same time I started using Linux, I started learning Perl, which was also a reason I fell in love with Linux - every time I installed a new server, Perl was already there.
How did you get to where you are today?
In my opinion it’s really simple - I just love what I’m doing. For me my job isn’t just my job, I had the luck to turn my hobby into my job and I’m obsessed with it. And if you love what you do, you’re good at what you do and vice versa.
Why did you decide to get certified by the Linux Foundation?
First at all, I love these kind of practical exams, where you’re faced with and have to solve problems. It’s not just learning and remembering some questions or memorizing the 23rd command line parameter of cowsay, like it is for most multiple choice kind of exams. The second reason was that the exam is offered by the Linux Foundation, the umbrella for the development and continuity of Linux and other famous OSS projects, a substantial player in today's technical world.
What, if anything, did you do to prepare for the exam?
I didn’t prepare for the LFCS exam, since the objectives of the exam reflect my daily work, which shouldn’t mean that the exam was easy peasy. It was challenging and fun to do it and in the end I’m proud that I’ve successfully completed it.
What did you think of the exam?
As I mentioned before, I love this kind of exam. It will proove your daily skills, not just your skills to memorize questions and answers. The exam was a pleasure to take, the questions were clearly asked and the possibility to do the exam at home in your well-known environment and not have to travel a few 100 miles to the next examiner is awesome. Also the possibility to choose your favorite Linux flavor for the exam is remarkable.
Did anything surprise you, or stand out about the exam?
Just before the exam, I was taken aback (wondering) if the exam process will work as expected. But I was really surprised how easy it was to take the exam. I just set up a profile in Chrome, installed the extension and it just works out of the box - and this on your own laptop at home - awesome.
Do you have any advice for anyone considering taking the exam to get certified?
Take a look and be prepared for the exam objectives. Just train for the objectives on your favorite distro with tools like trouble-maker. In the end have fun at the exam, don’t be too nervous, and read the whole problem before you start working on it.
What are you hoping to do with the certification, now that you have it?
Put it on my CV. :-)
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’d like to thank the Linux Foundation for setting up this kind of certification and being a foundation for the whole Linux community. I hope that with a bit of marketing, some more time and more and more people who become certified, the Linux Foundation Certification gets a standing, which makes it a valuable part on your CV and on the other side a valuable indicator for a skillset on a job posting.