Are Linux exams worth it

Linux and open source

The boom was not yet in sight, and Linux was something that particularly open-minded IT professionals tried out on "underground servers" when the first initiative to certify Linux skills began. The non-profit organization Linux Professional Institute (LPI) was founded in New Brunswick, Canada in 1999. She wanted to be independent of the distributions of the operating system, which were still quite violently feuding at the time. That is why the LPI has been based on the uniform code base Linux Standard Base since then. In the German-speaking area, the overarching regional division Central Europe is responsible. It emerged from LPI e.V., which was founded in Karlsruhe in 2003 and is now based in Kassel.

The LPI has become the epitome of Linux certification. His trials have replaced others. But they're not the only offers. There are alternatives, especially for high-quality certificates. And brand new in the race for the certification market is the Linux Foundation.


  1. The Linux + certificate from CompTIA is identical to the lowest professional certificate LPIC-1 from the Linux Professional Institute.

  2. Linux Foundation certificates are new. "Certified System Administrator" is the entry level.

  3. The second and highest level of certification by the Linux Foundation is the "Certified Engineer".

  4. Linux Essentials is a professional level certification intended primarily for students and trainees.

  5. The certificates for IT professionals at the Linux Professional Institute start with level LPIC-1.

  6. The LPIC-2 is the certificate of choice for Linux administrators in data centers.

  7. The qualification level LPIC-3 is a recommendation of the Linux Professional Institute for "higher ordinations".

  8. As a "Certified System Administrator", Red Hat qualifies the entry level for its own Linux environments.

  9. The career ladder at Suse begins with the "Certified Linux Administrator". The CLA certificate is identical to LPIC-1.

  10. The Suse CLP certificate requires significantly more knowledge. The number refers to the version of Suse Linux Enterprise Server under which the exam was taken.

  11. A Suse CLE has completed the highest qualification at Suse. The exam requires far more than Linux knowledge.

Linux Professional Institute (LPI)

The LPI sees itself exclusively as an examination institution. It does not organize any training courses and does not set any guidelines for such. Insofar as training material with labels such as "LPI Approved" is available on the market, this refers to the "LPI Approved Training Materials" (LPI ATM) program. This is no longer valid worldwide since 2009, but regional LPI organizations are still allowed to use it.

There are specialist books in stores and there are tons of material on the Internet to prepare for the exams independently. This is a common practice for IT specialists with Linux knowledge from their studies or practice. Nevertheless, the numerous providers of preparatory courses for the LPI exams cannot complain about a lack of demand.

The LPI differentiates between two types of training partners: "Approved Academic Partner" (AAP) comprises public educational institutions. In Germany alone there are around 70. There are also "Approved Training Partners" (ATP). There are 33 in this country, including well-known names in open source circles such as Linuxhotel (Essen), Heinlein (Berlin), Medialinx and Open Source School (both Munich). These facilities must, among other things, provide evidence of suitable training material and LPI-certified trainers (LPI CTs). Not all training partners, AAPs and ATPs, offer preparation for the full range of LPI certificates.

The LPI exams can be taken in two ways. A supervised online exam is available through the Pearson VUE exam center. The LPI offers the possibility of written exams at larger IT events such as CeBIT or Chemnitz LinuxTag, often at a reduced price. It is important to answer multiple choice or text questions. An LPI certificate usually requires two exams with 60 questions each, whereby 500 of 800 possible points must be achieved. There are no grades afterwards, only the certificate.

The LPI offers four certificates, which for the most part build on one another, i.e. are prerequisites for the next level. Not the topics, but the specific questions in the exams are constantly changing. So it should be of little use to memorize test sheets that are circulating on the Internet. The examinees really have to know their way around. Over the years, the hardware-related part of the exam questions has steadily decreased.

LPIC-1 - the oldest LPI certificate

The oldest LPI certificate has been around since January 2000: the LPIC-1 certificate, also known as "Junior Level Linux Professional". Two exams have to be taken for this. Exam 101 revolves around system architecture, Linux installation and package management, GNU and Unix commands as well as drives, file systems, directory structure and file system hierarchy standards. Exam 102 requires knowledge of Shell, Scripts and SQL, User Interface and Desktop, Administrative Tasks, System Services, Networking Basics and Security. So this is still relatively clearly about Linux basics and stand-alone operation.

LPIC-2 Advanced Level Linux Professional

The certificate is much more server-related. The LPIC-1 certificate is required for admission. In addition, two tests have to be passed here as well: Exam 201 deals with the kernel, system start, file system, extended administration of storage devices, network configuration and DNS. Exam 202 covers web services, file sharing, network client management, email services, system security, and solving system problems.

LPIC-3 Senior Level Linux Professional

The most demanding and specialized LPI level is the LPIC-3 "Senior Level Linux Professional" certificate. The entrance requirements are the certificates LPIC-1 and -2. Each exam consists of 50 questions. There are three tests: The basic exam LPI-300 (Mixed Environments ") focuses on Samba and the integration of Linux and Windows systems. This test replaces the old exam 302 with the same title; exam 301 (" Core ").

There is a specialty exam 303 ("Security") with the subjects of cryptography, access control, operational and network security. Another specialization enables the exam 304 ("High availability and virtualization") on virtualization techniques, load balancing, storage and cluster management.

Linux Essentials - for students and trainees

The LPI has been offering a fourth entry-level certificate since June 2012, the "Linux Essentials" certificate. This offer is aimed primarily at schoolchildren and young trainees. The exam not only asks for theoretical knowledge about the open source community, common distributions, open source applications and licenses. It is also necessary to demonstrate basic knowledge of practical work with the command line, script languages, file permissions and security.

In principle, LPI certificates have unlimited validity, but the LPI "urgently" recommends recertification after five years. For admission to the next higher examination, a certificate must not be older than five years anyway, in which case it is considered "inactive". Recertification at the highest level renews the lower certificates at the same time. A repetition of the exam is necessary at level 30x.

This recertification process explains why the LPI has accepted around 425,000 exams but only issued 150,000 certificates. The discrepancy is not a statement about the failure rate. The LPI makes just as little statements about this as it does about the number of graduates at the various examination levels.