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CompTIA Linux tips, guide and Linux opportunities - What is Linux+?

Linux+ exam (XK0-002) is a vendor-neutral certification developed for people who want to launch into careers in Linux.  CompTIA (the Computing Technology Industry Association) developed Linux+; CompTIA is a member organization that promotes competences and standards in the IT industry. As most CompTIA literature, state, “CompTIA is a global trade association representing the business interests of the information technology industry.”


Linux+ is designed to certify professionals who can install, configure, manage, network, and troubleshoot Linux-based desktops and servers.  Such individuals should also be conversant with Linux concepts and basic Linux hardware.


Even though, as with all CompTIA certifications, it is based on vendor-neutral standards, the development of Linux+ has been facilitated through multi-vendor, industry-led collaboration. “It is what industry says it needs, not what we think industry needs”. The Linux+ certification exam was developed with the support and financial assistance of IT industry heavyweights such as Intel, IBM and Hewlett-Packard who believe in the future of Linux.  The test questions are written and updated by Linux professionals working in industry.


Linux+ was introduced in September 2001. However, due to the rapid rate of change in the world of information technology, CompTIA released an updated version containing major revisions in early 2005. According to Yvonne Keith, CompTIA Linux+ certification program manager. "The revised exam is designed to build Linux capabilities for today's job tasks, and to prepare individuals for success as they train for and earn more advanced vendor-neutral and vendor-specific Linux certifications." CompTIA certifications don't expire and so previous Linux+ certifications earned with the 2001 exam objectives are still valid.


Linux and Linux+


Linux is a clone of UNIX operating system that runs on a wide variety of systems including desktop PCs, mid-range and high-end servers, and is licensed under an open source license. Linux comprises a kernel (the core control software) and specific software programs and resources. Popular distributions include those from Red Hat, Debian, SUSE/Novell, etc.


In the world of information technology, Linux has proven itself in the server sphere and is making significant inroads in the desktop market. Globally the market for Linux is on the increase.  According to research company International Data Corporation (IDC) worldwide Linux server revenues are increasing yearly. By 2007, yearly revenue from Linux servers is expected to rise above 300% of its present value. Linux is also projected to double its share of the installed base of desktop PC units worldwide within this period.


Most importantly, let's stick with reality: Linux is fast growing not just because it is inexpensive and flexible, but also because it is seen as a viable alternative in the marketplace. The bottom-line is that amazing Linux adoption is driven by performance.


Who is Linux+ for?


What is the exam focus? What capabilities should one expect of a Linux+ certified professional in terms of specific knowledge and skills?

This exam requires a basic understanding of open source technologies and is an excellent opportunity to certify important fundamental skills and knowledge in Linux.


The target audience for CompTIA Linux+ is an individual with 6-12 months experience installing, operating and maintaining the Linux operating system. Many who fall into this category are usually those seeking their first formal Linux training and certification experience. Do you need foundational Linux expertise? Do you want to start a career in or with Linux? Those passing the CompTIA Linux+ exam will demonstrate knowledge mastery required to provide basic installation, operation, security, administration, and troubleshooting services for the Linux operating system on workstations and servers.


The exam focus of CompTIA Linux+ certification is proof of technical knowledge in basic installation, operation and troubleshooting for Linux operating systems. Specifically the exam tests the following knowledge domains with the extent to which they are represented in parentheses:

Installation (19%), Configuration (20%), Management/Maintenance (26%), Security (21%), Documentation (6%), Basic Linux Hardware (8%).


What are the benefits of Linux+?

CompTIA Linux+ is the perfect launching pad into a career in Linux for the following reasons:

- Linux Opportunities

The number one benefit is that of value. Any tool that makes you better able to contribute and add value worth is your time, effort and money. Linux is here to stay. Do you need to know more about Linux? Linux brings many opportunities to the market place. Today, all the major players on the hardware and software market each have their team of Linux developers. The widespread mainstream adoption and growing importance of Linux, in turn increases demand of qualified and competent Linux professionals. It's obvious that Linux know-how can give you an edge in competitive situations and in the job market. It makes sense to invest in knowledge that helps you stay ahead of the crowd. Getting exposed to a technology with immediate and foreseeable demand is a wise career move for IT professionals. In view of its flexibility and outstanding performance, Linux is often called a workhorse. With the right approach you can use this workhorse to become a powerhouse.


- Recognition and Proof of achievement

Becoming CompTIA Linux+ certified gives an individual a recognized industry credential that offers proof of knowledge and expertise in Linux technologies. It is a level of competence commonly accepted and valued by the industry. Not only are you saying you are capable in Linux, but a reputable external body is confirming your level of competence. With the right mind-set this can lead enhanced job and career opportunities.

Job advancements and promotions are some of the common rewards for getting certified, as it also enhances individual marketability.


- Foundational Knowledge

Linux+ provides a foundation for a variety of fulfilling and challenging Linux-related careers. It is a vendor-neutral and entry-level credential that gives one a solid foundation for more advanced Linux certifications. For example, CompTIA Linux+ could be a first step towards building a career involving Red Hat Linux and/or Novell SUSE Linux.


In this regard, it also provides foundational knowledge for vendor certifications. Many of the leaders in the IT industry including IBM, HP and Novell all recognize CompTIA certifications as prerequisites for their vendor certification programs.


- New Career Opportunities

But don't make the mistake of thinking that Linux+ is only for beginners. If you need fundamental skills in Linux, Linux+ may meet your need. For example, as an experienced professional, you may consider investing in Linux to open up new career opportunities. But ignoring the fundamentals to save money and time can be costly. You may be a guru in Microsoft networking, but how solid are you in the fundamentals of Linux? To open doors to new career opportunities, you must be solid on the ground.



Other Linux Certifications


Linux+ isn't the only Linux certification. As explained earlier the growth and mainstreaming of Linux, means Linux certification makes sense. Other organizations offering Linux certifications (http://www.jidaw.com/certarticles/linuxcerts.html) include The Linux Professional Institute (LPI), Red Hat and Novell. Target audience, exam focus and costs differ. If you're interested in Linux certification, it is your job to know which one best meets your need. For example Red Hat is focused on Red Hat products, while CompTIA's Linux+, which is the focus of this discourse, is a great vendor-neutral entry point to Linux certification.


Preparing for Linux+ 


Presently there are over 5,000 CompTIA Linux+ certified professionals worldwide. There are no prerequisites for this entry-level certification. However, CompTIA recommends that you should have a background that includes knowledge and skills validated by the A+ and Network+ certifications.


The Linux+ designation is achieved by passing one conventional format exam. The exam is 94 questions long and candidates have 90 minutes to complete the exam. It is an exam that requires high quality preparation. So how should you prepare?


As with any certification various options exist. Preparation options include instructor-led learning (http://www.jidaw.com/train/linuxtrain.html), certification preparation books, practice tests, Internet resources and Computer Based Training (CBT). What works for me may not work for you. There are no perfect learning options. Each option has its strengths and its weaknesses. There is no option that covers "everything". Consider your interests, your background, opportunities available to you and of course what works for you.  I would encourage students to start by being familiar with the focus and objectives (http://www.jidaw.com/certarticles/comptialinux.html) in whichever study method they use to prepare for the Linux+ exam.


The Linux+ Perspective


The Linux market is huge and growing, but please keep perspective. A Lesotho proverb states, "You only gain interest on what you invest". There are no short cuts. Be prepared to make the effort. “The man on top of the mountain did not fall there". Don't focus only on the reward side, but in addition consider the demands that Linux is meeting, the value Linux is providing. Are you ready to contribute and make things happen in such areas? Do such areas interest you? Linux+ isn't just about a hot, powerful or “pretty face” credential, it's also about you - what do you want to achieve?


Before you invest in any certification have a clear understanding on how that certification fits into your career plan and how it will enable you to add value. Do an honest self-assessment. What level am I at? Do I have the required background? Where am I going? What knowledge do I need to get to where I'm going? If you're not sure talk to experts and attend career/certification enlightenment forums (http://www.jidaw.com/netseminar.html). Know the difference between the journey and the destination. Do you know what certification can and cannot do? There is competition and choice. Keep your feet on the ground.


It is important that you have a clear understanding of what Linux and Linux+ can provide in relation to where you are and where you need to be. Is it useful for your journey? Is it relevant to your destination? Or is it just good to know? You know best. This analysis enables you to make informed career decisions on the value that Linux certification can give you. Be truthful to yourself. Don't invest in programs simply because they are popular, instead focus on what will make significant and meaningful impact in your area of interest.


The growing importance of Linux has boosted demand for skilled Linux professionals and increased the relevance of Linux+. The question is: Is Linux+ for you?


Jide Awe


Jide Awe is the Founder of Jidaw.com (http://www.jidaw.com) 

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