Independent Linux certification promoted

Linux Australia is holding a seminar next month on the need for Linux certification in the workplace. Evan Leibovitch, head of key Linux training body the Linux Professional Institute, will offer his insights in the present state of certification in Australia, and abroad.

According to Linux Australia president Pia Smith, the seminar, to be held in a Sydney on Aug. 11, will address Linux skills in IT, and the importance of having a non vendor-driven Linux platform certification “the industry can trust.”

She said it will also cover the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) certification model, and why the LPI certification “may be just what is needed” in Australia.

Founded in Canada in 1998, the LPI provides certification and courseware for Linux and open source professionals. LPI is an independent, non-profit corporation that has evolved out of the Linux community. It prides itself on the fact it is vendor-independent and distribution neutral.

LPI president Evan Leibovitch, who will be visiting Sydney for the seminar, says the real advantage of a Linux certification model that is not vendor-driven is that certified people are trained and certified with Linux, without being tied down to a single distribution.

“I’ll also be talking in general of how LPI and its community is working to bring professional attitudes and sensibilities to IT certification in general. (People tolerate activities in IT that they would not tolerate in other fields – how would people react if you had to go to Ford to get your drivers’ license?),” he says.

Linux Australia’s Smith says the increasing demand for Linux skills in the Australian IT sector has spurred interest and visibility of Linux certification. “Evan is coming out to ensure we are prepared for the increasing numbers wanting to get certified and educated in Linux.”

Smith says the seminar will be aimed at IT managers, government, Linux professionals (including current teachers and students of the LPI) and job agencies.

The LPI certification currently has two threads: the Level 1 or Junior Level Administration (LPIC1), which consists of passing exams 101 and 102; and the Level 2 or Intermediate Level Administration (LPIC2) which consists of passing exams 201 and 202.

LPI already has a presence in Australia and has testing centres around the nation. According to Smith increasing interest by Linux professionals “is certainly driving the LPI certification forward in Australia.”

One such person driving this interest is Geoffrey Robertson, who is an IT teacher at Granville TAFE in Sydney’s western suburbs; he also holds regular, after-hours study groups for LPI certifications. The four-hour classes run for 18 weeks and prepare the students for the LPI exams, which students undertake at private institutions.

These classes have been running for several years and, according to Robertson, “I have more students than I can deal with.” The class size is officially 15 students per session, however, typically he has 30-plus students in each class. “I have stopped promoting the classes and just rely on word of mouth.”

Presently TAFE does not offer formal LPI certifications. However, Robertson is working to get LPI testing in TAFE colleges in the future.

The LPI information session will be held in Sydney at 6pm on Monday Aug. 11 at 5-11 Wentworth Ave in room ‘Lady Reid B’. Admission is free and interested participants should reserve a seat by Thursday Aug. 7. All the information about the event is located on the Linux Australia Web site.