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Creating a Linux Certification and Training Program

By Dan York

Creating a Linux certification and training program

Certification. The very word spawns Usenet flame wars and conjures up images of inexperienced novices with a piece of paper winning employment over more experienced candidates who lack the appropriate acronyms. It reeks of centralized control and of forcing people to take exams to demonstrate their knowledge. It creates a swirling alphabet soup of acronyms - MCSE, CNE, MCP, CCIE, CLP, ATEC, LAEC, CNA, CSA, EIEIO...

Yet if Linux is to be widely accepted into the computing mainstream, I believe a certification program is essential. First, though, before I am flamed, let me state clearly that I do not believe a certification program should ever replace experience in the hiring process. A certification program is ultimately a tool, primarily for marketing and recruitment. In this article, I want to begin a discussion of why Linux needs a certification program and how such a program should be focused.

Why Linux needs a certification program

The need is out there... here is what I believe a certification program can do for Linux:

Creating a certification program

So if a certification program can benefit the Linux community, what are the characteristics of a program that will work?

Moving forward

If you agree that a certification program can be beneficial for the growth of Linux, how do we as a community go about addressing the points I made above about creating a certification program? Do we create another mailing-list or newsgroup? (Does such a group or list already exist? If so, I have so far failed to find it.) Do we meet at a conference?

Is a Linux certification program even possible? I have felt the UNIX/Linux community (of which I count myself a member) has historically been extremely resistant to anything remotely resembling certification... are we still? Such a program by its nature involves a certain degree of central coordination that has not necessarily been a part of our ethic? Can we create such a program?

Who should be players in this project? Which vendors are interested? (Would Caldera be interested in joining with others to create a common program?) What is the role of Linux International? What about other efforts within SAGE or USENIX?

I don't necessarily have the answers - but I would like to participate in the discussion. If someone can suggest the appropriate forum in which this discussion should take place (or is currently taking place!), please let me know. Also to that end, I'd like to propose creating a "Linux Training Alliance" consisting of other training centers and/or instructors who are interested in creating a Linux training and certification program. Please email me at dyork@Lodestar2.com if you believe such a program would have value and would like to participate.

I believe that a certification program can accelerate the growth of Linux into the computing mainstream, while creating new advocates for Linux, expanding marketing and countering arguments about the lack of support. Can we build a certification program to do this? What do you think?

Copyright © 1998, Dan York
Published in Issue 33 of Linux Gazette, October 1998