Red Hat offers new course for advanced Linux users

Red Hat Inc. is offering a new hands-on course designed for advanced users of its Red Hat Enterprise products – enabling users to go directly to the company, instead of the open source community, to learn new skills.

Geared for users who already hold the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) credential, the RH423 Red Hat Enterprise Directory Services and Authentication course is not exactly for beginners. Rather it will help systems administrators who make technical decisions affecting a whole organization.

During the course, RHCEs will learn advanced methods and practices for configuring and Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) and kerberos. Users will learn skills including how to ensure that e-mail is functioning correctly, to determine how users access services, how authentication is handled, and how to develop a network password schema, said Pete Childers, vice-president of global learning services at Red Hat.

The course is four-days long and costs US$2,598. Starting in February, the course will be offered at Red Hat’s Raleigh, N.C. headquarters and will eventually expand to other Red Hat learning centres in North America.

“The great thing about this course is that it is hands-on,” Childers said. This means there are no multiple choice tests, so students are certified on a performance basis, he explained. “You earn the certification by carrying out the tasks.”

In Canada, Red Hat generally offers its courses in Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary. At press time there was no information about when and where the RH423 course will be taught in Canada.

Before RH423 was developed, users had to turn to the Linux community to find out information about configuring directory services and authentication, Childers said.

“In open source and Linux (communities) there are literally thousands of sites and pages, full of information and how-tos. What Red Hat does in our learning services is we take all the methods and best practices and write them so they are designed for Enterprise Red Hat 3,” he explained.

Other than the RH423 and RHCE, Red Hat also offers a Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT) certification course – a pared down version of its RHCE program that doesn’t test the networking services and networking security skills needed to become an RHCE.

Red Hat says the RHCT course is designed for employees who will be supporting Linux in a work environment and for users who are transitioning from a non-Unix operating system to Linux. The RCHT has been running for about a year, while the RCHE has been offered for about four years.

SuSE AG, Red Hat’s biggest rival in the Linux operating system market, offers certification for Linux administrators in conjunction with the vendor-independent Linux Professional Institute (LPI), based in Brampton, Ont. Red Hat is the only Linux vendor that does not support the LPI.

The LPI offers three certifications – the Junior Level Administrator (LPIC1), Intermediate Level Administrator (LPIC2) and the LPI Senior Level Administration Certification (LPIC3).

Matthew Rice, CIO of the LPI said the expertise users gain from LPIC1 is similar to Red Hat’s RCHT program, while LPIC2 is comparable to Red Hat’s RHCE program.

To become LPIC3-certified, students must be able to design and implement solutions to complex automation problems, such as multi-site enterprises, heavy-duty Internet sites, and develop custom solutions. They must also be able to initiate projects and budget to implement them, supervise assistants and serve as a consultant to higher management.

Rice said users who become certified with the LPI will still be qualified to administer Red Hat environments. When testing, users can choose between testing on a system based on Red Hat Package Managers (RPMs) or on Debian package managers. He said most major distributions are based on RPMs, and the difference between these distributions are usually only in the versions of software shipped with each edition, making it easy for the certified to administer myriad Linux environments.

Since its inception four years ago, the LPI has administered about 40,000 tests and there are about 10,000 LPIC1-certified professionals running loose in the world. Five to 10 per cent of those also have the LPIC2 certification, Rice said.

In comparison, Red Hat’s Childers said it has certified about 10,000 RHCEs and about 3,000 RHCTs.

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