Friday, July 27, 2012

Studying for the LPIC-1 intro and outline

Since I'm studying for this certification I thought it would be a good idea to list the certification notes I have incase someone would like to also use them. The exact details of the exam are located at the LPI site but as with many exams, they are frequently updating the questions. The basis for my notes will be taken from the following link.

LPI - LPIC-1 Certification outline 

Then to pass the certification, you need to pass two exams listed below. For now LPI has not added the recent updates to the full outline, so you will need to make sure you are current by reading both outlines.

LPI - Exam 101 - full outline
LPI - Exam 101 - updates as of July 2, 2012

LPI - Exam 102 - full outline
LPI - Exam 102 - updates as of July 2, 2012

Since this will focus on the subject of passing the LPIC-1, we will start by going over the requirements of the 101 exam.

Overview of the 101 exam

Exam 101 is broken down into four main sections.

1) System Architecture
2) Linux Installation and Package Management
3) GNU and Unix Commands
4) Devices, Linux Filesystems, Filesystem Hierarchy Standard

Each of the main sections have their subsection, which is related to the main section. For example the main section of Linux Installation and Package Management will discuss how to use the package manager yum.

Each of the exams has 60 questions that are a mix of multiple choice, multiple answers (choose two answers) and you need to score 500 or higher to pass. You are given 90 minutes to take the exam but this is actually a good amount of time and allows for reviewing of your questions. The exam I took also has a nice feature where you can mark the answers you are not sure with a "review" marker. This allows you to you return to these questions before finishing the exam.

Who should take this exam

From the LPI site, this LPIC-1 certification is a listed as a "Junior Level Linux Certification". Currently in the IT world, this certification and the CompTIA Linux+ are the standard Linux intro certifications available. There are many more Linux based certifications but from my personal research and also reading many employment listings, these are the certifications you most often see. Speaking of Linux+, if you pass the LPIC-1 certification you also qualify for the CompTIA Linux+ certification since they both use the same exams.

If you're just starting out in Linux or have a few years of experience I think this certification would be time well spent. Even if you do not follow through to the exams, the amount of information is much more than a regular Linux user would use, and can be helpful. Keep in mind that while there is technically a lot of information discussed, the total amount of depth is more shallow than other certifications. LPIC-1/Linux+ focuses on both distros (Debian and Red Hat) so their focus is not a deep as say the Red Hat RHCSA certification.

The questions also covered in the LPIC-1/Linux+ also are not something you often would use everyday in a Linux engineer or sysadmin role. Some comments on the certification have mentioned that the information is so rarely used that it doesn't make sense to study it (configuring IRQ's?) or it's just better to focus on other subjects leaving the details to an Internet search. The Red Hat RHCSA certification is above the LPIC-1/Linux+ in terms of difficulty and method of testing (all fill in the blank questions), and is normally considered the next Linux certification. The RHCSA also focuses more closely upon system administration tasks instead of a little bit of everything.

What will you need to study for the exam

I would recommend the following to help study for this or any exam.

If you have a computer that allows virtualization then you can install the study Linux host very easily without having to worry about issues of using two physical machines for studying. Also most virtualization software allows you to take snapshots where you can "freeze" the machine at a certain time point, make some changes and if they don't work, roll back to the saved snapshot. It's extremely helpful when you are working with details of the system that could impact startup. 

I would recommend to have at least 4GB of physical memory but since we're working with Linux, the requirements are pretty low. On my person laptop, I'm able to run two Linux hosts (one is Debian and the other is CentOS) very easily with no noticeable lag. Personally I like using my desktop more than my laptop since I can have many virtual machines running, but I can bring my laptop to work and it's very handy to study during lunch time. 

Reading books and where to search for the answer is somewhat confusing. Since the LPI who creates the test does not officially offer a book, your left to choose from the popular certification book vendors. I personally used the All in one LPIC-1/CompTIA Linux+ Certification but heard high reviews for other books such as the Sybex Linux+ and also O'Reilly LPIC-1 in a nutshell book. 

For the time and dedication, that it really the hardest part since you can't buy time. I would recommend to work on the exams section by section instead of reading the entire outline beginning to end. Making smaller check points for your goal will help stay focused instead of just focusing on finishing the certification. I would also recommend to work backwards, read the outline, then focus your study on these subjects. 

Something that also helps, buy a large wall calendar and follow the Seinfeld method

Let's get started

I'm going to start writing the notes for the System Architecture as I have time, and keep up the pace with my own exam study. 

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