Linux Foundation Debuts Linux Certification Effort

The new certifications mark the first time the Linux Foundation has offered formal certification after years of success with training programs.


CHICAGO—The Linux Foundation announced today its first Linux certifications for IT professionals. The new certifications were announced at the LinuxCon conference here, which officially gets under way today.

The two new designations are the Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE). The new certifications mark the first time the Linux Foundation itself has offered formal certification. Other organizations including the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) and vendors including Red Hat have been offering Linux certifications for the past decade.

Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, told eWEEK that for years his organization has been providing the Linux community with training, tutorials, mentoring programs and other educational outreach efforts. In fact, it was back in 2009 that the Linux Foundation first began its formal training programs. At the time, the Linux Foundation was not interested in doing any formal certification, but times have now changed.

"These certification programs are just additional efforts to address the market need," Zemlin said.

Zemlin saw huge demand for Linux training this year with the free introduction to Linux course offered online by the Linux Foundation and edX. Approximately 250,000 students signed up for the course, he said.

"That's when we realized that there is also a need to look at modern ways to identify and qualify talent, so employers can meet their business requirements," Zemlin said. "We realized there is a gap in the market."

There are a lot of programs in the market that people use to get certified on a specific platform, according to Zemlin. The goal with the Linux Foundation certification is to provide ease of access that an online program offers while still being vendor-agnostic. That said, the certifications offer users a choice of the CentOS, openSUSE or Ubuntu Linux distributions on which to take the examination.

"We want to allow people to get certified anywhere, anytime," Zemlin said.

More than 20 subject matter experts collaborated to build the material for the two certification testing suites. LFCS is the first-level designation, while LFCE is progressively more difficult.

The actual testing system is a fully online platform that was built by the Linux Foundation. To prevent cheating, the system requires that the user has an active Webcam running, and the entire evaluation is proctored by a real person at the other end.

In terms of market competition with other Linux certification providers like LPI and Red Hat, Zemlin doesn't see it as being an issue.

"It's more a question of choice," Zemlin said. "We look at the market as a whole, and we want to build the overall market of qualified Linux professionals."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.