Linux is all around us, but do you really know what it is? And how does it apply to IT jobs? In this blog post, author, CompTIA instructor and Linux guru Jason Eckert helps to demystify the open-source operating system so you can decide whether or not CompTIA Linux+ is right for you.
What Is Linux?
In short, Linux is an open-source, UNIX-like operating system created by Linus Torvalds that runs a plethora of different devices today. When you do your online banking or use Google, Facebook or Twitter, you’re talking to Linux servers in the cloud. In fact, nearly all supercomputers and cloud servers run Linux, as does your Android smartphone and many other devices around your home and workplace, such as firewalls and routers. Even my touch-screen refrigerator, home media center and in-car GPS run Linux.
Open source has been the key to Linux’s success. Software released under an open-source license gives other software developers access to modify the original source code that was used to create the software. This, in turn allows other software developers worldwide to quickly identify and fix bugs and security loopholes, as well as make feature improvements to the software. Consequently, open-source software evolves rapidly, and this is what transformed Linux into the world’s most flexible and powerful operating system since its conception more than 25 years ago.
Linus Torvalds and his team still develop the core operating system kernel and libraries. However, software developers worldwide develop the additional open-source libraries and software packages used with the Linux kernel. You may obtain different distributions of Linux as a result. All Linux distributions share the same kernel and libraries, yet have different software packaged with the kernel. There are hundreds of Linux distributions available – some common ones include Red Hat, Fedora, SuSE, Debian, Ubuntu and CentOS. And don’t forget Android!
It’s also important to note that Linux is functionally an open-source UNIX operating system – nearly all of the concepts, commands and files are identical between UNIX and Linux. If you use a Mac computer or iPhone, you are using a flavor of UNIX (Mac OS X and iOS are both UNIX operating systems), and many embedded systems and large servers still run UNIX today as well (e.g., BSD UNIX, Solaris UNIX, QNX). As a result, those who administer Linux systems often administer UNIX systems, and vice versa.
What Is CompTIA Linux+?
For the past two decades, employers have used certification as a skills benchmark for hiring and advancement in the IT industry. And as the need for skilled Linux administrators continues to grow, so does the need for Linux certification.
CompTIA Linux+ (Powered by LPI) tests the fundamental usage and administrative tasks that are common to nearly all Linux distributions and UNIX flavors. The two exams that you have to pass to achieve the Linux+ certification (LX0-103 and LX0-104) essentially cover the same content as the two exams that you have to pass to achieve LPIC-1 (LPI Level 1 – Linux Administrator) certification from the Linux Professional Institute (LPI). As an added bonus, after achieving CompTIA Linux+, you can apply for and obtain the LPIC-1 certification directly on the CompTIA website. However, you cannot do the reverse – in other words, you cannot pass LPIC-1 and request Linux+.
Why Should You Become Linux+ Certified?
- You get the industry brand recognition that comes with CompTIA. Many IT managers and human resources departments are very familiar with CompTIA certifications – they know that if the certification ends with a + symbol, it’s a good skills benchmark. And, as we discussed earlier, you also receive the LPIC-1 certification from LPI for additional brand recognition.
- For most jobs involving Linux and/or UNIX, CompTIA Linux+ is the only Linux certification that you will need, as it covers the general administration tasks that most organizations seek when hiring for Linux/UNIX administration positions. Advanced topic areas not tested on Linux+ often involve specialized configuration that is specific to a particular organization and Linux distribution or UNIX flavor. Those who have a working knowledge of the general administration concepts tested on CompTIA Linux+ can easily research and perform these advanced configuration tasks as necessary.
- CompTIA Linux+ and LPIC-1 provide a foundation for other Linux certifications. LPI offers two additional levels of certification that you can achieve after passing Linux+/LPIC-1:
Think CompTIA Linux+ is right for you? See what training materials and classes are available to get started.
- LPIC-2 (LPI Level 2 – Linux Engineer), which tests additional system and network administration concepts.
- LPIC-3 (LPI Level 3 – Linux Enterprise Professional), which tests one of three specific concept areas of your choice: Security, OpenLDAP/Samba, and virtualization/clustering.