Red Hat, a Linux vendor, offers a training and certification program of its own.
The Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) is a performance-based certification program that
includes four days of intensive training; the program concludes with a hands-on exam on
the fifth day. You can take the training courses at Red Hat facilities in North
Carolina, Portland, Ore., San Francisco, and Santa Clara, Calif.; the course is also
offered at the thousands of training facilities run by Global Knowledge or IBM Global
Services. In addition, Red Hat, in conjunction with distance-learning provider
DigitalThink, is currently developing a Web-based curriculum to present the same
material in a distance-learning environment.
Certification can certainly be a path to employment, but when it's not accompanied by
experience, it's not enough. "It gives [those who take the test] an edge in the
sense that it provides a recognized litmus test of Linux skills," said Leibovitch. "But
we are the first to recognize that certification is only part of the hiring process. An
organization that hires people just based on certification is not going to get the kind
of employees they want. Certification is no substitute for good references, experience,
or a good resume. It's like a balanced breakfast. The certification is a very useful
tool, and it shows at a glance that the person has accomplished and demonstrated a
certain minimum level of Linux skills -- but as far as we're concerned, it's only one
part of a sensible hiring process."
Before there was formal certification, determining a Linux professional's level of
skill was based solely on a "meritocracy," according to London. "A lot of these people
had been writing code in their spare time for years, and they've gained a reputation
and a name for themselves on the Internet based on their code. It's on that reputation
that a lot of these people got hired."
Says London: "If your name is known and you've written some good code that's been
incorporated into the Linux operating system already, there's no amount of formal
education or training certification that can equal the name you've already built up for