The Linux Foundation is a great place to start your Linux certification path
Posted on
January 31, 2017
A Linux certification can get you into a hot career path.

In the early 2000s, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer was not shy about sharing his opinion of Linux, the open source operating system that had achieved great success since its release in the early 1990s. Here are two of Steve Ballmer's noteworthy quotes about Linux from that era:

"Linux is a cancer that attaches itself in an intellectual property sense to everything it touches."

"Linux , it has, you know, the characteristics of Communism that people love so very, very much about it. That is, it's free."

It is indicative of the level of change in Microsoft's relationship with the Linux community over the last decade that in 2016, Microsoft announced it was joining the Linux Foundation.

The Linux Foundation is a non-profit organization made up of hundreds of members, including the following industry giants:

  • Red Hat
  • Oracle
  • Intel
  • IBM
  • Google
  • Cisco

The current version of the Linux Foundation came into being in 2007, as a product of the merger of two organizations: the Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) and the Free Standards Group (FSG). The Linux Foundation is the tech world's leading advocate of the Linux platform, acting as vendor-neutral spokesperson, open source project collaborator, and supportive Linux developer resource.

Aside from its work with the Linux OS, the Foundation's mandate includes sponsoring the development and ongoing sustainment of vital open source technologies such as Cloud Foundry, Node.js, and OpenDaylight.

The Linux Foundation promotes itself and its work through a variety of industry activities. The group offers corporate education and consulting services; it sponsors an impressive calendar of global events; and it fosters a number of programs and initiatives like the TODO Group (Talk Openly, Develop Openly), OpenChain, and the SPDX Project. Through these activities, the Foundation makes itself available to all levels of open source enthusiasts — everyone from casual Linux users to high-end open source developers and Linux network administrators.

One of the Linux Foundation's key efforts has been the development and promotion of its professional training and certification program. This program is still relatively young, but is built on a solid base of excellent courses, the use of a modern, performance-based, anytime-anywhere exam system, and smart partnerships with vendors like Microsoft.

Linux Foundation Certifications

The Linux Foundation certification program consists of two credentials: The Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator (LFCS) and the Linux Foundation Certified Engineer (LFCE). As you would expect, the Engineer certification is more advanced than the SysAdmin credential.

Both Linux Foundation certification exams share the following in common:

Performance-Based Questions: Both exams consist entirely of performance-based tasks executed in a virtual environment — no multiple-choice or multiple-answer questions. Candidates must perform a series of activities based on the knowledge and skills being tested by each exam.

Choice of Distros: Candidates can select one of three Linux distros at the beginning of either exam — CentOS, openSUSE, or Ubuntu.

Anywhere-Anytime Testing: Linux Foundation exams are delivered online to the candidate's host machine, allowing much greater flexibility in exam availability and scheduling than with more traditional certification vendors.

Exam Time and Passing Score: Both exams come with a two-hour time limit, and both have a 72 percent passing score.

The System Administrator (LFCS) certification exam is made up of performance-based tasks based on the following knowledge domains:

  • Essential Commands
  • Operation of Running Systems
  • User and Group Management
  • Networking
  • Service Configuration
  • Virtualization
  • Storage Management

The Engineer (LFCE) certification exam is based on tasks from these knowledge domains:

  • Network Administration
  • Network Filesystems and File Services
  • Network Security
  • Remote Access
  • HTTP Services
  • Email Services


A Linux certification can get you into a hot career path.

Exam Pro Tip: If you purchase your exam directly from the Linux Foundation (and it is not a "SINGLE-ATTEMPT" voucher), you will receive one free retake of the exam if you do not pass on the first try.

The LFCS and LFCE certifications are both valid for two years after being earned. To renew a certification, candidates can either retake and pass the current version of the related exam, or perform at least 16 hours of approved ongoing education activities before their certification expires.

Benefits of Linux Foundation Certification

The Linux Foundation certification program offers IT professionals — well, a foundation in Linux. Holding a Linux Foundation credential effectively demonstrates your Linux-based skills and knowledge, and can help you to stand out as an employment candidate for a broad range of general IT roles.

Better still, the knowledge base you build while earning a Linux Foundation certification serves as an excellent jumping off point to more specialized Linux training and certification programs, such as those offered by Red Hat, Oracle, and IBM. Being proficient in these Linux-based specializations can often lead to more lucrative employment opportunities.

There is a unique benefit associated with the Linux Foundation System Administrator certification. IT professionals who earn the LFCS can move on to a unique industry credential — the Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate: Linux on Azure certification. MCSA: Linux on Azure is achieved by passing the Linux Foundation LFCS exam, as well as Microsoft exam 70-533: Implementing Microsoft Azure Infrastructure Solutions.

MCSA: Linux on Azure is described by Microsoft as follows:

"This certification demonstrates your ability to design, architect, implement, and maintain complex cloud-enabled Linux solutions that leverage Microsoft Azure open source capabilities. It also validates your Linux system administration skills to show that you are fluent in today's cloud-native world."

Created in 2015, MCSA: Linux on Azure reflects Microsoft's more collaborative stance towards open source software, and is hopefully the beginning of an expanding certification offering from them and the Linux Foundation.

Check out Linux Foundation Certifications

The Linux Foundation is arguably the most relevant open source software organization in the world. Its activities support and maintain open source projects and communities, and provide valuable information for businesses and other organizations using Linux in the enterprise.

The Foundation's training and certification program is excellent, including its certification exams which are entirely performance-based, and can be taken anywhere, at any time, via online-proctored testing. The Linux Foundation is an excellent resource for existing Linux professionals, or for anyone looking to enter the field.

About the Author

Aaron Axline is a technology journalist and copywriter based in Edmonton, Canada. He can be found on LinkedIn, and anywhere fine coffee is served.

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