passed linux+

A few weeks ago I took a couple exams and passed both. One was the Linux+ (powered by LPI) LX0-104, which is the second exam in the Linux+ certification track. This pass resulted in my earning both the Linux+ and LPIC-1 certs as I had taken and passed LX0-103 earlier this summer.

I’ve been a relatively casual user of Linux since about 2001. I’ve used it as my primary desktop at home for probably the last 10 years, but that doesn’t mean I’m any sort of power user. I know enough to pilot myself on Kali Linux through the PWK labs and the OSCP cert, and probably approach a Linux administrator job. My day-to-day tasks on Linux at home are just general web browsing and media playing on Ubuntu; things where you can just set things up and stay in the GUI all day every day.

Still, all of that exposure left me very comfortable in Linux and able to pick up on things very well to fill in my gaps of knowledge when studying the Linux+ topics.

And that is the main part of my motivation for this cert: To shore up my foundational knowledge on Linux. I’m comfortable, but I certainly have gaps as I am not a full-time Linux admin or power user. And having that strong foundation can carry over to many other things like cloud servers, linux forensics, linux pen testing, securing linux servers, etc. While I’m comfortable in Linux, I’ve seen the opposite end of the spectrum in something like the SANS forensics course FOR 508, where students with nearly 0 Linux experience have a huge learning curve just to be able to operate inside the main forensics tools and VMs. I’m glad I’m not at that point, but going even further helps that comfort.

I’ve also long looked at Linux+ as a cert I’d like to get to illustrate some knowledge of Linux, but have never really put the time or effort into pursuing it. At the start of this year, I found that CompTia was going to change this cert later this year by updating its content from v4 to v5, ending the relationship/connection with LPI, and also converting the lifetime status of the cert to by something you’d need to renew. I really like my lifetime Security+, so this change helped prompt a decision to make getting this cert a goal of mine for this year.

Since I already had a Linux Academy subscription, I used them as my primary resources for studying. As the Linux+ cert content is being updated, some of these courses are no longer useful, and I was initially confused on which courses I should be focusing on. I utilized the Linux Academy labs for tasks I wasn’t quite as familiar with. Their cloud-based ability to spin up a CentOS server for me to read man pages and help files was really nice!

I started with Linux Essentials (14 hours) last year, and finished it early this year.

I followed that up with LPIC-1: System Administrator Exam 101 (v5 Objectives) (21 hours), which was partly confusion on my part due to the exam changes, where I should have been looking at v4 content and not v5. Still, I welcome the learning.

Then I completed Linux+ and LPIC-1: System Administrator – Exam 101 (v4 Objectives) (20 hours) before taking and passing the first exam.

Lastly, I took Linux+ and LPIC-1: System Administrator – Exam 102 (v4 Objectives) (23 hours) before taking and passing the second exam.

From the exams, I don’t remember much about the first exam already, but on the second, I did score lower than I wanted to score. I blame that on taking a month to start studying AWS before my exam date, so most of my exam experience was pulled from ingrained experience rather than recent memory from studying things. To be fair, I only spent about 25 minutes on that second exam.

The exam was fine, but it was definitely off-putting to get several questions dealing with IPv6 vs IP4 and IP addressing and subnetting. I get the need, but should have been out of scope of this particular type of exam.

I was a little skeptical taking this on as a personal goal this year, as I already know plenty of Linux and it was maybe sort of a “I had this idea years ago and I’d like to complete it” sense of vanity. I also really had nothing to gain from the cert itself; it won’t land me my next job or trigger a raise. However, I’m glad for having done it, as it’s really my first formalized amount of training on Linux, which helped answer questions, fill in gaps, and learn some new things. (So, that’s why dual booting was such a pain so many years ago!)

I feel more even more confident in Linux now, which can open up further doors down the road like diving harder into Linux forensics, Linux pentesting, managing my own attacker platform better, and so on. These were all probably approachable already for me, but now even more so.

Moving forward, I don’t have any plans right now to get any other Linux certifications. The effort and cost for pursuing the Red Hat or Linux Foundation tracks when my job title does not include “Linux” just isn’t a priority for me. If I had to choose one, it would be difficult. Red Hat is more recognized, but Linux Foundation wouldn’t require travel. I wouldn’t entertain doing any more LPI as it is just multiple-choice.

For others looking to get this cert, I think for anyone looking to be a Linux administrator should make the Red Hat or Linux Foundation tracks a priority, with this an optional step along the way. I’m not really sure the cert itself is worth it, but the studying towards it would be. For someone with no or little Linux experience looking to put something on the resume, maybe for a blended security role, and not looking to do a hands-on admin practical, this makes for really one of the only options. After October, 2019, there will be Linux+ and LPIC-1 as separate, competing certs, but I’m not sure which would be preferred. Probably Linux+ as it could help support renewals of other CompTia certs, and vice versa. For someone comfortable in Linux, this really becomes a personal decision that could go either way, which is the boat I was in.

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