Open Source Certification: Questions and Answers


Open source is now so pervasive at organizations of all sizes that there is outsized demand for workers skilled with open platforms and tools. This has created profound changes in the job market, and across industries the skills gap is widening, making it ever more difficult to hire people with much needed job skills.

So far in this series, we’ve discussed why certification matters so much, explained the kinds of certifications that are making a difference, and covered some strategic ways to prepare for the task-centric exams that lead to certification. In this last article of the series, Clyde Seepersad, General Manager of Training and Certification at The Linux Foundation, answers some commonly asked questions pertaining to certification and exam-taking.

Performance-based testing

In a recent webinar during which Seepersad discussed these topics, one participant asked about the differences between performance-based tests or multiple-choice tests.

“I’m a very passionate believer in performance-based tests,” Seepersad said, “and the reason is that it really reflects the reality of how you do your work as an IT professional. You do your work on a live system. You do your work at the command line. You don’t do your work by being quizzed and being handed a set of answers.”

“When I think of my own role in the past as a hiring manager,” Seepersad added, “if you gave me the option between the two I would always pick the one where the candidate has proven that they can do the work in a live,  timed hands-on environment because that’s going to be a better reflection of what I’m going to expect them to do in the real world. A performance-based test is definitely going to give me a lot more confidence in a candidate than a multiple-choice exam.”

In this article series, we have looked at what is involved in obtaining Linux Foundation certifications, but other organizations offer training and certification for open source platforms and tools as well. Another participant asked about the differences between Red Hat certification and Linux Foundation certification, for example.

“One of the things that I really like and respect about the Red Hat program is that just like The Linux Foundation program, it is performance-based,” Seepersad said. “It is a live system that the candidate has to work on, which is great. Red Hat continues to be a great option for users who know for a fact that they’re going to be working in a Red Hat-only environment.”  

“One other distinction is that we deliver our exam 100 percent online,” he added. “For the Red Hat exams, you have to go to a physical testing center or a kiosk. From a convenience factor, depending on where you’re located, if you’re not in an urban area or if you’re in a country that maybe doesn’t have a lot of test infrastructure, being able to take an exam from your own computer and take it 24/7 can matter a lot.”

Exam Insurance

Seepersad was also asked what is meant by “exam insurance” for Linux Foundation certification exams. Seepersad said that soon after the training program was launched, they talked particularly with candidates who were taking a bit longer than expected about why that was.

“The reason was that they were trying to save up for delivering their solutions until they were really sure they were ready,” he said. “Quite often that meant they were about to run out of time. We thought about how to take the stress out of this. The way we take the stress out is by offering a no-questions-asked exam retake option. If you take either exam, LFCS or LFCE, and you do not succeed on your first attempt, you are automatically eligible to have a free second attempt.”

With certification playing a more important role in securing a rewarding long-term career, are you interested in learning about options for gaining credentials? If so, please check out the other stories in this series and stay tuned for more information about open source training and certification.

Learn more about Linux training and certification.