CSIA 430 – Linux Administration: Course Purpose

As you probably know from the course description I designed the material in this class to provide you with an introduction to the knowledge and skills you will need to be a Linux System Administrator. If you successfully complete the class you should be able to install and configure Linux on a computer, add and manage users are services, and ensure that the configuration is secure.

But please keep in mind that this is just a 5 credit class, which means that during most quarters the class will only last 11 weeks, which is barely enough time to provide you with an introduction. Another way to think about the limits on what you’ll learn is to imagine that you have a full time job in this field. Each week on your job you’ll work 40 hours. During a lecture class that meets 4 days per week you would put in 44 hours, or about the same as just 1 week at work. During class you should probably do up to 2 hours of homework for each hour in class, but that’s only another 88 hours. In other words, at best you’re probably going to spend as much time in class as you would in just 3 weeks on the job. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll learn a lot in class. But I don’t want you to think that taking this one class will be enough to make you an expert Linux Administrator.


The other thing that I think is important for you to understand is the relationship between this class and the Linux+ Certification. In the past the official class description said that this class would help prepare you for the CompTIA Linux+ Certification Test. That course description was changed (or probably needs to be changed in a few places) because it’s more than a little deceptive. While the material in the class will help you begin to prepare for the Linux+ exam, there is a lot, lot more you will need to know to pass the certification exam. Keep in mind that generally speaking certification exams are designed to provide experienced individuals with some way of proving that they have knowledge and experience. Unless you already have a few year’s experience as a Linux Admin just taking this class isn’t going to be near enough to pass the certification exam. At the end of the class you should be able to recognize most of the exam items, but this is a far cry from the expertise you need to actually answer detailed questions about these items.

Passing the exam is a good long term goal as most employers give much more consideration to certifications than they would to your grade in this class. I’ve never seen a job description that says you need at least a 3.0 in Mr. Sako’s class; but I’ve seen plenty of job descriptions that list Linux+ or other certifications as a requirement.

Another possible point of confusion regarding certification is the book. During the class you have the option of using a book that is designed to help individuals with the Linux+ Certification test. However we’re just using the book as a learning resource, and only a portion of it at that. The book was chosen because it is well written, has relevant hands on exercises, and is a good resource … but regardless of the book’s title you are not expected to pass the Linux+ test. Even though the book says Linux+ in the title you don’t have to take or pass the certification test for this class.

Hopefully you understand that certification tests are meant to be used by individuals who already have a few year’s experience with a product or in an industry. Once you have that experience, using a book like this can help you prepare for the certification exam by identifying and filling any holes you may have in your knowledge and experience. But it would be very difficult, maybe even impossible, to just read this book and then pass the Linux+ test. You’ll be ready to take the certification test when you can read the book and say “I completely understand what the book is saying, I already know all about that … ” for every chapter and on every review question. In other words, you’ll be ready to take the test when you don’t need the book.

So … I’m going to repeat myself just to be clear. You do not have to pass or even take the Linux+ test for this class. If you do choose to try the Linux+ exam please note that passing any certification test requires additional study and work on the student’s part. In other words, this class will be a good starting point for you if you want to take the Linux+ test, but it’s not the only thing you should do if you want to pass the test.

Another good resource that you might consider using if you want to pass the Linux+ certification test is the Testout/Labsim product that you used if you took my CS223 UNIX/Linux class. Testout has designed their Labsim products with exactly this goal in mind. That is their Labsims are designed with the primary goal of helping you pass a certification exam, they aren’t designed with the primary goal of learning a product or system. The Labsim sections follow the certification exam objectives, which is why their order is a bit goofy if you’re trying to learn how to use Linux. I suggest that if you do use Testout, or any other certification exam preparation material, that you use it to identify any areas where you may need to spend extra time. (We won’t be using any of the Testout products for this class, but if your license is still active you can use it as an additional resource if you want.)

If you already have your Linux+ Certification, make sure and get in touch with the instructor as soon as possible as you may be eligible to receive Non-Traditional Credit for the college class without having to pay for it and sit through it. You should do this right away; because if you qualify for the credit, you can get your tuition $$$ back and hopefully still have enough time to sign up for another class.