In past articles we’ve ranged far, and sometimes wide, on the topic of popular IT certifications in the Indian marketplace. The certification topics covered include databases, programming, networking, cloud and server administration, and the ever in-demand certs dealing with IT Security. We’ve also examined how to deal with the enormous of costs and expenses of obtaining certifications.
My last article probed more deeply into India’s most popular database certification — spoiler alert — it’s Microsoft’s MCSA SQL Server 2012. In that article I pointed out the distinction between Open and Closed Sourced Software. For instance, with open source, the code which creates the application is easily accessible. The primary benefit of this platform, besides being free to download, is that the source code is easily modified. The difficulty is that software developers, in need of assistance when tackling a technical glitch, cannot dial up tech support. Instead they most often turn to various online forums and blog sites for solutions. Currently India’s most widely available and widely used open source software is the Linux operating system.
With closed source software, source code is inaccessible and, as a result, there is a limit to how much a particular application can be customized to meet a client’s needs. This type of platform tends to be very expensive as software and applications created this way are dependent upon a licensing model. The primary advantage of this platform is that tech support is readily available — merely a phone call away in most instances. India’s most popular closed source platform is the Microsoft Windows operating system.
In spite of Microsoft’s popularity, India’s IT professionals are increasingly shying away from using Windows for software applications and development. The trend is now leaning much more heavily upon the use of Linux. Although it’s free distribution is a huge driver for adoption, ease of use and the close collaboration environment which it inspires are other factors contributing to more companies jumping on the “open source software” bandwagon.
A Brief History of Linux
The origins of Linux trace back into the early 1960s. Brian Kernighan of Bell Labs is credited with developing the first true Open Source Software model, known as UNIX. UNIX has proven to be a very “lightweight” operating system (OS) to use, in that it does not consume a lot of memory and processing power. It remains widely used in many parts of the business sector in India.
Building upon this model, in 1991 Linus Torvalds, a Finnish student, extended the UNIX OS into a widely available and free distribution, thus giving birth to the Linux OS. In fact, it is UNIX which forms the backbone bulk of the source code used to create Linux. Today, Linux is composed of 18,000,000 lines of source code, versus the 50,000,000 lines of source code needed to create the Windows platform. Also, Linux is free to download and use from the GNU Project, under the GNU General Public License Scheme.
Linux does have several strong advantages:
It’s Free — Most users don’t need to pay for a copy. It can be freely and legally downloaded to as many computers and users as you want.
Easy to Install — In most cases it’s easier to install on your computer than Windows. Click here to learn about downloading and installing Linux.
Great Stability — Systems using Linux rarely crash. If they do crash, then the whole system does not normally go down.
Less Vulnerable to Malware — There is ample documented evidence that Linux is less vulnerable to malware, spyware, worms and Trojan viruses. There is malware out there, but with care and downloading only from a Linux distributor’s official software repository, it is more easily avoided. Additionally, since Linux is open source, there are thousands of users constantly examining it making it more difficult for malware to hide inside the code.
Just as there are two sides to every argument, there are also two disadvantages to Linux:
Many Windows Programs Don’t Run in Linux – Forget using Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer, or iTunes; they just don’t run with Linux. There are however, some workarounds to help Linux users utilize aspects of these programs.
Limited Hardware Compatibility — Although more Linux hardware drivers are constantly being added, there is still a much smaller selection of drivers for printers, scanners and other devices.
Obtaining a Linux Certification
Linux’s popularity across India is correlating into a strong demand for certified Linux software developers. One of the best ways to showcase knowledge in this area is to obtain the right certification.
Since Linux is based upon the Open Source Software methodology, it has a far and growing reach into many other IT platforms as well, including the Cloud (more specifically the realms of IaaS, PaaS, SaaS), databases, (primarily Oracle), network security, and Big Data analysis and computations. Because of this, there are many Linux certifications now available.
Presently, the most popular and in-demand cert is CompTIA Linux+. This is considered an all-purpose cert because, instead of focusing on just one area, it tests proficiency upon a wide range of IT subjects, including server administration, web-based security, and database administration.
Two exams are required to acquire this prestigious cert:
LXO-103 tests knowledge of the Linux programming command line structure, task maintenance including adding users to the right policy groups, backup/restore/shutdown/restart of Linux based servers, and installing and configuring a Linux based workstation and connecting to both a Local Area Network (LAN) and a Wide Area Network (WAN).
LXO-104 covers the content of the LXO-103 exam, and the more sophisticated functionalities of Linux such as shells, scripting, data management, the creation of Graphical User Interfaces (GUIs), more in depth administrative tasks, networking fundamentals, and systems services and security.
Each exam consists of 60 multiple-choice questions, with a 90 minute duration, with a score of 500 on a scale of 200 to 800 to clear. Candidates should have at least one year of either networking or Linux administration experience. Both exams are available to take anytime and anywhere through the PearsonVUE and Prometric testing centers.
The downside of obtaining the CompTIA Linux+ is, like almost all certs, cost. Each exam is ₹ 20,000 ($300 U.S.). Keep in mind that, since Linux is an open source platform, there are no official books or testing materials to help you prepare. You will need to carefully select among the large number of non-official study materials. One of the best ways to select useful materials is to post for advice and guidance on any of the many online Linux forums.
The big upside to earning this coveted cert is that the financial rewards are great! Linux+ certificate holders can command an approximate salary range of 4.7 to 6.7 lakh ($70,000 to $100,000 U.S.) so it’s well worth the effort.