FOSS Education/Training in FOSS
Although training in FOSS is not normally a part of formal education, educational institutions can play a role in providing this service in their professional trainings or adult education programmes.
One of the ways to promote the adoption of GNU/Linux and FOSS in government, educational institutions, organizations and the corporate sector is to ensure that suitable human resource capacity is available. A short-term measure for building human resource capacity in FOSS is to provide a path for current IT professionals to acquire the necessary skills and certification. Although many system administrators, network engineers and other IT professionals should be able to learn on their own, a more structured training programme will ensure systematic and adequate coverage of the various topics. A certification process will assess the competence of GNU/Linux and FOSS professionals; give confidence to employers; and facilitate the hiring process in an organization.
Training in GNU/Linux and FOSS is primarily to enhance job-related skills. Since FOSS is now predominantly used in back office servers, the areas for training would be in operating systems, servers, security and Web application development.
Since desktop applications are beginning to mature, there is also a growing need to train users to use these applications. Some governments and corporations are already implementing policies to migrate to FOSS desktop applications either on a mandatory or voluntary basis. However, such policies can succeed only if they are accompanied by a concerted effort to train the users who are affected by the move to use FOSS.
Lack of technical support is often cited as one of the reasons for not considering the adoption of FOSS. There is, of course, support provided informally through various newsgroups and mailing lists, and vendors like Red Hat also provide support options that can be purchased by institutions. However, the existence of a pool of GNU/Linux-certified professionals will go a long way to allay the fears of organizations considering the adoption of GNU/Linux and FOSS.
A certification programme also helps training centres in deciding on the training curriculum. Instead of having to develop its own curriculum, a training center can adopt a widely recognized certification programme. There are other advantages of certification, such as industry recognition of GNU/Linux and provision of a path of study for professionals desiring to acquire skills in GNU/Linux.
A certification programme should have some form of examination to reliably assess the competencies of students. The training centres should be certified and the instructors themselves should also be certified to be suitable to conduct the training.
Linux Professional Institute (LPI)
The Linux Professional Institute (LPI - http://www.lpi.org ) is a non-profit organization established in 1999. It is vendor-independent and through its activities it aims to promote the use of GNU/Linux and FOSS.
The LPI certification programme consists of three levels and is designed to certify the competency of system administrators, system engineers and other IT professionals in the use of GNU/Linux and other associated servers and utilities. It is not based on any particular GNU/Linux distribution, although inputs to the programme are provided by major hardware and GNU/Linux distribution vendors.
LPI tests for well-rounded skills that are usable on any GNU/Linux distribution. To ensure validity, reliability and high quality, LPI does not provide the training or the training material directly. A wide range of preparation options are supported, and training and testing centres for LPI certification are available in many countries.
Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE)
Red Hat ( http://www.redhat.com/training ) has two certification examinations-the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and the Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT). The training and testing emphasize practical skills and the exams measure competence with live equipment. The RHCE is aimed at two groups of IT professionals. The first group consists of system administrators, network engineers and other IT staff who already possess experience and knowledge in UNIX or GNU/Linux. The second group includes IT professionals who have little or no prior experience with UNIX or GNU/Linux.
The RHCE and RHCT certifications are meant to assess competencies in installing and configuring Red Hat Linux, configuring basic networking and file systems, essential system administration and configuring basic security. The RHCT is certification to a technician level and focuses more on client-side services and supporting Red Hat Linux systems on an existing network. RHCE focuses on server services and assesses competence in managing Red Hat Linux servers.
Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) Linux+ ( http://www.comptia.org/certification/linux/default.asp ) certification is another vendor-neutral programme that validates the knowledge and abilities of technicians with at least six months of practical GNU/Linux experience. The CompTIA Linux+ certification exam measures competencies in planning and implementation, installation, configuration, administration, maintenance and troubleshooting of GNU/Linux systems. This is considered to be an entry-level certification on GNU/Linux.