Red Hat or LPIC
“Which certification is the best”
This is a question that I am commonly asked and it is really not easy answer. This is a little like the meaning of life, which we all know to be 42. We have to start initially to analyze what we mean by “best”. This will vary from candidate to candidate as there is no one solution to fit all. I hold Red Hat RHCE and LPIC-2 certifications along with SUSE CLE, the premier certification from the SUSE stable; and feel a confident to compare the Red Hat and LPIC certifications. The certifications from SUSE rarely appear on anyone’s agenda these days partly as the limited countries let alone cities that offer the exams.
Red Hat Certified System Administrator RHCSA vs LPIC-1 Junior Administrator
I think that it would be fair to compare these two certifications as they both represent the entry level and passing either one is required for the next level in both groups.
Many people feel that practical examinations are the best and to a degree there is some point to their argument. My personal feeling is that I find practical examinations very easy; however, I find the LPIC exams a little more challenging. Let me expand on this, in a practical exam if you do not know the answer you can find it out, there are man pages and help systems, even trial and error until you get the required result. Sure there is always a time limit but that is adequate. The argument for these exams is that it matched real life. Then I ask you the simple question:
“in an emergency do you want your administrators to be using trial and error or wasting time reading man page entries”
I am guessing not. I am thinking that this is akin to Nero fiddling whilst Rome burns.
This is where the question-response of the Linux Professional Institute exams wins over. They go beyond the standard multiple-choice questions; to asking you to fill in a blank with the command or full path to the file:
Which command not including the path would you type to do such and such?
There is no visual prompt here; you either know the answer or you don’t; no messing; no second chances.
In the real world this is a support query that is answered in 10 seconds rather than 3 minutes; an immediate response rather than a response from google. The professionalism of the direct answer is reassuring and I am sure we all have been in that situation where we have been calmed by the assured knowledge of the professional dealing with the query.
Having taken my LPIC-1 originally in 2004 and renewed it this year I am convinced that the LPI rigorously test knowledge in this exam. You are not expected to know how to do a task in one distribution but across many.
“Red Hat test you on, well ……. Red Hat”
Red Hat Certified Engineer RHCE vs LPIC-2 Advanced Administrator
The RHCE has always been recognized as the pinnacle in Linux certifications but perhaps this is more to do with the marketing that Red Hat has been able to put behind this program and also the cost of the courses and exams. Again we must not forget the silo effect of knowing just one distribution. Not only that but you will only need to be demonstrating just one way to do a task rather than understanding the many solutions even a single distribution offers.
For example you may be asked to block access to a service, let’s say to the SSHD. This could be done many ways:
- TCP Wrappers
- pam _listfile.so
In the Red Hat exam you could pass knowing just one way whereas the LPI would expect you to have knowledge of all the possible mechanisms. So now we see how the certification from Red Hat can let itself and you down but not testing your knowledge thoroughly.
“The fill-in the blank format of questions from the LPI overcome the limitations of so many IT exams in the fact that they are not easily remembered as part of exam crams, you have to know the answer”
Red Hat Certificate of Expertise vs LPIC-3 Senior Administrator
Both the LPI and Red Hat now have their specialist exams to prove expertise in specific areas and again I am fully convinced of the benefits of the LPI certification. The vigorous testing of knowledge that tests beyond the trivial is my preference and hence LPIC ever time.