Re: Certification based on pratice exams
I appreciate your perspective on this discussion. Like you, I'm also
contributing to the question pool and working on the Anghoff studies. I
believe there are pros and cons for both styles of exams. For me,
personally, I prefer the hands on process, as that is where I am most
challenged. Reading scenarios and choosing an answer is not something I
find difficult. People are hard wired differently, that is what helps the
world go around and to continue to grow as a race. Thank you for sharing
your perspective and granting me the same opportunity.
Indy's Computer Geek, LLC
Behalf Of Alan McKinnon
Sent: Tuesday, March 01, 2011 3:28 PM
Subject: Re: [lpi-discuss] Certification based on pratice exams
On Tuesday 01 March 2011 09:17:35 Daniel Curry wrote:
> WOW! I've never thought the RHCE exams I sat through as being 'warm
> and fuzzy'. The exam was broken into two parts, the morning consisted
> of a 2.5 hour window to resolve a list of broken issues within the
> setup and configuration of the machine. Due to the NDA I can't go
> into the specifics, there was only one item that was considered
> 'easy'. The afternoon portion of the exam was based upon the bare
> metal installation of a server meeting specific security and functional
requirements, within 3.5 hours.
The RHCE *is* warm and fuzzy. Yes, I have one. I was an RHCE trainer (but
not current, I have no plans to recertify for RHEL 6), and I spent 2 years
full time delivering LPI-aligned training.
I'm also LPI certified. I can't progress through the levels anymore, I
signed that right away in return for the privilege of making large
contributions to the exam question pool. I still consider it a fair trade.
And I'm a senior Unix admin at a large ISP (large by local standards), and
So those are my credentials. I feel qualified to opine on this matter.
There's nothing hard about the RHCE exam. It consists solely and
exclusively of routine ordinary things that any Linux admin should be able
to do blindfold. There's one section where you can include vicious gotchas
and that's wrt the bootloader. I'm not giving anything anyway in that,
it's covered in the course materials practicals too with stonkers like "mv
/bin/bash /bin/bash.gotcha" and the old classic of setting initdefault to
6. That one is as ancient as sending mechanic apprentices to stores for a
Point being, anyone who cannot get all or most of the RHCE questions right
or mostly right does not have a clue what they are doing on a Red Hat box
and certainly will not be allowed anywhere near my live systems.
> I am a strong proponent for tests the prove skills through active
> engagement, rather than memorization and 'brain dumps'. I support the
> LPI because I believe in the desire for an agnostic certification that
> covers a generalized exposure and qualification to Linux Systems
> Administration and Engineering.
You appear misinformed as to what the RHCE actually tests. It can best be
summed up as follows:
"Demonstrated ability to perform a regular stated task in the manner
prescribed to achieve a defined known result on a known defined platform."
Now that's very narrow as the candidate knows for sure the test box he
will be tested on is a bog-standard RHEL machine with no funnies straight
off the install disk. It will have none of the stuff we have to do in real
life, like build some weird package from source, bespoke stuff developed
in-house, or God forbid! a proprietary DBMS.
Please note that nowhere in the RHCE is the candidate's fundamental
understanding of the concepts ever consulted. In fact, it is not even
possible to do so, nor is it possible to normalize the results - they are
too variable and not measurable.
> As another person recently pointed out to me: "If you have a brain
> tumor, which person do you want? The one who has demonstrated through
> practical application his ability to remove it or one that read how to
> in an exam cram/brain dump/study guide?"
That's a false comparison and a degradation of what the LPI exam actually
You ought to be ashamed of yourself for trying to set up that straw man,
so I shall oblige by tearing it down.
Like I said, I delivered LPI-aligned training for 2 years full time. How
many students were able to pass any LPI exam solely using "exam cram/brain
dump/study guides"? None. The ones that passed did so because they
actually understood the subject matter, could think with it, and could use
logical reasoning to determine sensible paths to follow.
And guess what? In real life, actually on the job, what my techies deal
with daily resembles an LPI exam question much more than an RHCE one. I've
measured it, by actual numbers of support tickets. For every request to
add a user with access right X and Y there are two tickets for some system
giving errors that no-one has ever seen before.
A brain surgeon has an extremely well-defined protocol he must follow in
the process of dealing with a tumour. He is legally an by medical ethics
required to do it that way, and doesn't get a license to practise till he
has shown this. Same with aircraft pilots, deep-sea divers and bus
drivers. But do note that these jobs do not test fault finding skills. And
that is what *we* do all day long. So your comparison is faulty.
> When it comes to on the job skills, I really don't care much about a
> person's certifications, so long as the can do the job. When I'm
> interviewing a person with no provable experience (perhaps an intern
> or college graduate) I look to any certs they may have. If they have
> MS or LPI certs, I ask for scenarios that demonstrate application, not
> just memorization.
> In the field, it is all about earning money for a job delivered. If
> I'm charging a rate for a person's skill set, the more proficient that
> person is, the more profit we both can realize from his/her work.
> This is what matters in business. Proven skills and their application
> to making a profit.
Well that's true enough. Certs are not a means to an end in themselves,
they are merely one factor in wide array of factors, and one measurable
amongst many. It is equally false to disregard exams as it is to trust
All this assumes that the exam is of a reasonable quality of course. I
could point you in the direction of Win2k MCSE exams for a counter-point.
So in summary, the RHCE has it's place and is useful.
LPI exams are useful and have their place too.
The two things are diametrically opposed and not much comparable beyond
both being examinations. Please don't conflate them and let's put this
tired old argument to rest.
alan dot mckinnon at gmail dot com
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