"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

Creating A Linux Certification Program, Part 5

By Dan York

Over the past two months, the community effort to build a Linux certification program, called the Linux Professional Institute (LPI), has made some very strong progress. We had very successful and positive discussions with members of the Linux community at both LinuxWorld in San Jose, CA, and also at CeBIT in Hannover, Germany. Now, we're poised to make our program a reality over the next few months. (See myOctober, November, December , and February Linux Gazette articles for a history of the process.)  This month's article will address:

New Web Site

In an effort to make the Linux Professional Institute web site easier to remember, we have taken out the domain lpi.org and our pages can now be found at:


They also continue to be available at:


Please visit the web pages, read about the program we are proposing, and jump on board to help us out!

Credit for the site is due to Evan Leibovitch who established the domain name and maintains the site.

Job Analysis Survey

As part of our effort to ensure that our certification program is grounded on solid statistical data about the actual tasks that people are doing as they administer Linux systems, we have undertaken a job analysis survey. A couple of our volunteers, including Scott Murray (the chair of our exam development committee), have degrees in psychometrics and have worked to develop a method of validating both our program and the questions themselves. Scott and Tom Peters (chair of our program committee) put together a pre-survey where we collected lists of tasks performed by Linux system administrators. This pre-survey ran for a week, after which Tom and Scott cleaned the information up and now have the actual survey available on the web.

We invite anyone with an interest in Unix and Linux system administration to visit the website we put up to collect data for the job analysis. You will be asked to answer a few questions about a random selection from the many tasks a system administrator might need to perform; this will take 15 to 30 minutes of your time. We also need to collect some data of a personal nature, for reasons that are explained in the on-line instructions; these may be entered anonymously if you wish.

The survey will run until Friday the 9th of April. This is your opportunity to help shape the future of professional Linux certification, so please offer your input at:


Please help us out by visiting now!

Liaison with SAGE

For the past several years, the System Administrator's Guild (SAGE), a Special Technical Group of USENIX, has been trying to develop a generic UNIX system administration certification. This effort has not been easy, as many within SAGE have been against the entire concept of certification. The challenge faced by SAGE is also far greater than that of LPI. The differences between Linux distributions are minor when compared with the wide differences between various versions of UNIX.

Still, SAGE has slowly moved forward and has a web site describing their efforts. They are about to begin a job analysis project similar to what we are doing, only utilizing a research firm that specializes in performing such surveys. Expect to see notices in UNIX mailing lists and possible focus groups at upcoming conferences.

Since we both share similar goals, we have agreed to stay in close communication. The SAGE certification committee invited me to join their group (I have), and we will shortly be inviting one of their members to be a member of our Advisory Council. Several of our list members, including John Sechrest and Jim Dennis, are also members of SAGE and have been posting LPI information to SAGE lists (and also strongly defending the concept of certification!).

Linuxcare offers more support to LPI

Linuxcare, a organization offering 24x7 support for all distributions of Linux, has been a supporter of LPI efforts since the very beginning of our work last fall. Dave Sifry offered to create mailing lists and that has been our dominant form of communication. They took their support one step further in February, when they hired me to work full time as their representative to the LPI certification program. I will also have other duties within Linuxcare, but the bulk of my time in at least the short term will be spent on the LPI program. We within LPI appreciate their vote of confidence in our work and thank Linuxcare for their continued support.

Advisory Council

To ensure that our program meets both the needs of the Linux community as well as the organizations that will employ those people who successfully complete our certification program, we have been building an Advisory Council of individuals and organizations who can provide us with the feedback we require. Members of our Advisory Council will be part of a private mailing list to which questions will occasionally be posted and feedback solicited. Their assistance will be sought in helping guide the overall direction of the LPI program, as well as in helping to solve questions that may arise from time to time within the linux-cert lists where a wider industry perspective may be useful. As a consultative body, the Advisory Council will provide input to the LPI Steering Committee as that committee makes decisions related to LPI.

Based on the very successful meetings we have had, both at trade shows such as LinuxWorld and CeBIT, and also separately with individual people and companies, we will soon be announcing a large council including representatives from several distributions, Linux International, the Linux Journal, UniForum, publishers, information technology companies and other organizations who believe in the need for Linux certification. We appreciate their support and are looking forward to their assistance in making our program a reality. Watch for our announcement soon!

How You Can Help

We need you!  We want this certification effort to be far better than those for other operating systems. We need your assistance with our job analysis survey and also with our continuing efforts on our mailing lists.

To help out, you can join one or more of our mailing lists.  Before you decide how you can help, please read about our proposed program (which has been arrived at over the past six months of discussions) and the structure we are building to move the whole process forward.  I would suggest you also browse the archive of our linux-cert mailing list to understand the discussions we've had to date.

After reading our information, please plunge on in, join a list (or lists) and help us out!

Final Thoughts

The next few months will be a time of high energy within our program. The job analysis survey will be completed and by the end of this month, we should have exam objectives online for all of our Level 1 exams. The development of the exams themselves will be underway, and we will be working hard to bring Level 1 to completion by the middle of the year. There will be a lot of work - and a lot of opportunties for people wanting to help make this program a reality.

Will a Linux certification program evolve out of the community?  Or will it be specified by a vendor or distributor?   We believe it should come from the community and we hope you will join us in that effort!

Please take our survey, join us on the list(s) and let's make this happen!

Previous ``Linux Certification'' Columns

Linux Certification Part #1, October 1998
Linux Certification Part #2, November 1998
Linux Certification Part #3, December 1998
Linux Certification Part #4, February 1999

Copyright © 1999, Dan York
Published in Issue 40 of Linux Gazette, Mid-April 1999