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The Linux Professional

Sair Linux and GNU Certification


Welcome to the fourth article of The Linux Professional. In last month's column, I detailed my experience with the Linux Professional Institute Exam 101, their first release. This month I'd like to offer my impressions of the Sair Linux and GNU Certification program and their first exam.

Sair, Inc.

In 1999, Dr. Tobin Maginnis of the University of Mississippi began work on a vendor-neutral Linux certification program under the umbrella of his private company, Sair Inc. Pronounced zair, the company name stands for Software Architecture Implementation and Realization. Sair is offering its exams through Sylvan Prometric testing centers worldwide. Sair has the backing of its parent company, Wave Technologies, and an impressive list of advisors.

Sair defines three Linux certification levels:

  • Sair Linux and GNU Certified Administrator, or LCA. This level is intended for certification of "power users and system administrators."
  • Sair Linux and GNU Certified Engineer, or LCE
  • . Certified Engineers are expected to be capable of being a "Linux System Manager."
  • Master Sair Linux and GNU Certified Engineer, or MLCE
  • , which is intended to represent a "Senior System Manager" with knowledge of the "inner workings" of Linux systems.

For each of these three certification levels, four exams are required, for a total of twelve exams. At a cost of US $99 for each exam, a candidate pursuing all twelve exams will spend nearly US $1200 on exams alone, something to consider if you're planning on paying for your exams personally.

The Sair Linux knowledge matrix

The certification level descriptions listed above may be a little vague, but detail on their content is described in Sair's knowledge matrices, devices used to organize the material for all twelve exams in the series. Three matrices will eventually exist, although only the Level I matrix is currently available. The four exams making up the Level I certification are represented in four rows of the matrix:

  • Installation & Configuration
  • System Administration
  • Network Connectivity
  • Security, Ethics, and Privacy

The columns of the matrix hold these general topic areas:

  • Theory of Operation
  • Base System
  • Shells and Commands
  • Utilities
  • Applications
  • Troubleshooting

Each cell in the matrix represents a major content area for the corresponding certification level. For example, on the first row (which covers the Linux Installation and Configuration exam), the Theory of Operation column contains topics such as the history and nature of free software, the GPL, and other general knowledge items. It also contains basic PC hardware topics (such as interrupts and I/O addresses) and network configuration. In the second row of the matrix (which covers the System Administration exam) a different view of Theory of Operation includes filesystem issues, the Linux Loader (LILO), and others.

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