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Linux certification explained for 2004

Although there are a few postings regarding this subject, they are a bit old.  I would like to freshen up this topic being that we are close to 2005.  While I completely understand that having a certification does not prove a thing about one's competency it is at least a starting point.   I would like to know what professionals feel regarding certifications in general and what the choices are to become Linux certified.

As far as I know there are two major options when becoming Linux certified.  You could become certified in a particular distribution (RedHat, SuSE) or you could become vendor neutral certified (CompTIA or LPI).  
1.  How do people feel about vendor neutral vs. vendor specific certifications?
- cost (vendor neutral is about $100-200 per test, while vendor specific is ~ $2000 per track)
- actual benefit in terms of marketability
- difficulty
- benefit of accrued knowledge

I think that vendor specific certifications help make someone more marketable within a niche environment whereas vendor neutral certifications while being  more diluted/less demanding allow people greater scope of job opportunities.  Is this correct?  Even though I get this feeling from researching the topic, I can't help to notice that vendor neutral certifications are not very demanding and cannot see how week long intensive training, as is the case in vendor specific certifications, does not give you much more knowledge than the latter.  Besides, linux is practically the same thing within distributions.  I mean, if you know a lot about one distribution and are skilled at that, going to another distro is not a big deal at all.  In sum, what do you feel regarding vendor neutral vs. vendor specific certification?

Lastly, correct me if I am wrong, but I've been able to gather that there only two tracks within vendor-neutral certifications, CompTIA and LPI.  Is this correct?  Which one do people feel is the more prestigious?  I see that LPI has a more structured track that Involves
LPIC1 (exam 101 and 102) at this point you are a junior admin, whatever that means
LPIC2 (exam 201 and 202) at this point you are an intermediate admin
LPIC3 currently under development

On the other hand, CompTIA does not have any specific track so I think that the following exams could be worthwhile:

What do you think about CompTIA vs. LPI?  It seems to me that LPI is a bit new and they have a few things under construction.   On the other hand, although I have not been able to look at the LPI sample exams to have a fair comparison, it seems to me that CompTIA exams are not very hard.  

Any suggestions/resources about this topic are very much appreciated.  
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3 Solutions
Vendor certification is a waste of time. I have an RHCE, and in spite of this I still can't get demo versions of Red Hat AS 3 products to keep current and better my chances of employment. With the 'evil, closed empire' that is Microsoft, I was able to get demo copies of Windows Server 2003 in under a week and that helped land me a contract.

The cost of vendor certification is around GBP600 if you just do the exam and skip the training (the route I went). From speaking to people who actually did the course, the accrued knowledge was pretty limited and seemed more focused on getting you through the exams than anything else. Overall, the just try to cover too much to go into any real depth about best practice, etc.

As far as job opportunities go, most employers I deal with still aren't even aware of the RHCE certification, and with the SuSE -> Novell issue, there is even less awareness of their current offerings. The ones that _do_ want an RHCE also normally want someone with 10+ years of kernel 2.6 experience - i.e. they're often technically illiterate and are just loading the job spec with buzzwords.

IMHO, if I were doing it all again, I'd do a Cisco CCNA and an MCSE - at least microsoft advertise the MCSE and companies are made aware of it. Red Hat don't do anything useful in that field.
bisonfur37Author Commented:
any comments about vendor neutral certification?
If you want to do Linux work in the commercial sector, the best qualifications to have are still Tradidtional UNIX certifications. Most companies realise that linux and unix are similar and in the absence of a recognized linux cert they will look for good unix skills. The ones to go for are primarily Solaris Admin Parts 1 and 2. If you feel brave also try for AIX admin and perhaps HPUX admin, but solaris has the gratest user base out there and will stand you in the best position. Maybe novell will do some sort of cert for linux now that it has SuSE under it's belt...but who knows!!

best of luck

One of the biggest problems with any certification is that its value lies in how the commercial world views it. This means that you need the cert organisation to be hyping up the value of people with X certification.

This is something that the vendor neutral guys don't seem to do at all. I just asked a manager who runs a Unix team and is part of a Linux initiative at a large corp, and he had never heard of either of those certifications. No-one else on the Unix team (solaris) had either. So while they may teach you a lot, their commercial value is marginalised because no-one has ever heard of them.

I agree with prof666 (teacher of the beast ?) that you would be best served going for Solaris certs. Even if you then have to re-learn a bunch of little details for Linux, at least people will recognise your qualification.

Another point to note is that industry certifications count very little towards points / eligibility for emigration purposes, if they even count at all. This is the case for USA, Canada and Australia - only traditional Ba / Bsc qualifications help you for these. Not sure if that is of interest though.
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