"Linux Gazette...making Linux just a little more fun!"

Creating A Linux Certification Program, Part 6

By Dan York

It's been quite a crazy ride during the last weeks within the community effort to build a certification program known as the Linux Professional Institute (LPI). There are a great many news items to pass along. This month's article will address:

If you are interested in reading previous articles in this series, please see the links at the bottom of the page.

What You Can Do

There are a great number of ways you can help make the LPI project a reality. Here is a quick list:


We need some more help documenting the detailed characteristics and differences between the distributions of Linux. Faber Fedor <revf2@interactive.net> has agreed to coordinate a project to document the distributions. In particular we are looking for someone to complete and maintain the SuSE document, and an additional few hands to help complete the Slackware document are welcome too. Visit:


to see the work that has been done to date by Faber and other volunteers. Please send any feedback you can to Faber (preferably as an edited HTML document, with the changes highlighted). You can also visit the archives for the "linux-cert-program" list at:


to see messages relating to the project. All of this work will go into creating the distribution-specific exams that are part of our first level of certification.


Very shortly, Scott Murray, our director of exam development, will be putting out a call for "item writers" to write questions for our first level exams. Item writers will receive some instruction in the types of questions we are seeking and then will write items that will be submitted to an extensive technical review and evaluation process. Writers of items that survive the initial screening and alpha testing will receive compensation for their work.

If you have ever had concerns that people who completed other certification programs weren't really qualified, then please join with us and help make sure our program is of the appropriate quality.

Please contact Scott Murray (scott@lpi.org) now if you would be interested in being an item writer when we begin the process.


Creating a high-quality certification program such as this costs a significant amount of money. We recently unveiled our sponsorship program for both businesses and individuals at:


We've already had several major sponsors come on board (Caldera Systems, Linuxcare and SuSE are the largest) and we are actively speaking with others. If either your company or you individually would be interested in donating, we would certainly be interested to talk to you. If you think your company might be interested, but are uncomfortable bringing the matter up, please feel free to contact us and we'll be glad to make the approach.

Please direct all sponsorship inquiries to either myself (dan@lpi.org) or Chuck Mead (chuck@lpi.org).

Please note that while we are incorporating as a nonprofit corporation, we are not (yet, anyway) a "tax-exempt" entity by U.S. IRS tax guidelines. Donations to LPI are not tax-deductible in the U.S. as charitable contributions. (But there may be other ways to deduct such contributions - contact an accountant for details - and hey, it's for a good cause anyway!)


As we've had a great number of courseware vendors come to us asking about "approving" their materials, we are considering implementing such a program. Chuck Mead has just kicked off a discussion in our Corporate Relations committee. Join the list, or view the web archive at:


The CorpRel committee will be working on a proposal to send to the Board.


With so many information technology publications out there - both in print and on the web, it's next-to-impossible to stay up-to-date on what's being said all over the place about Linux certification. We'd like your help. When you see an article (either in print or online) about Linux certification, can you please send us the info (article title, publication, date, URL if on the web). Either send it directly to "linux-cert-pr" if you are a member of that list (if not, consider joining!) or email it to Evan (evan@lpi.org)

You can see the list of what has been posted at:


Messages sent to linux-cert-pr appear on the archive within an hour.


To date, much of the writing and speaking about LPI and our efforts to create a Linux certification program has been by members of the Steering Committee such as Evan and I. But please know that we are not at all exclusive about that and would encourage others to help out with writing and/or speaking about LPI and Linux certification.

Many web sites are looking for people to write articles and we'd love to see more articles out there about Linux certification and LPI. If you know of a site looking for articles, please go ahead and write one. We'll be glad to provide some information or assistance if you need it. Also, if you'd like to write articles, drop us a note and we may be able to steer you to places where they are looking for writers (usually the online sites are looking for writers who will write for free).

Print publications are good, too. For instance, I had an article in the June ";login:" published by USENIX and then an article in the July "Linux Journal." Scott Murray & Alan Mead are planning to submit an article on their survey process to a psychometrics journal. Articles might be appropriate for local or regional newsletters for training organizations, user groups, etc.

Also, if you're interested in speaking to local groups, we will soon be making some presentations available online (in Applixware format so far, probably HTML, too) that you could use. For instance, Faber Fedor recently spoke to a local association of technical educators in his state.

If you are interested in writing or speaking, please feel free to contact either Evan (evan@lpi.org) or I (dan@lpi.org). Feel free, too, to go ahead and just write... we'll be glad to look over articles if you'd like us, too.


As described further down in this article, there is now an effort underway to create a German "Chapter" of LPI that would help translate informational materials into German and also write/speak about LPI certification within Germany and in the German language. More details will be available soon, but in the meantime, please contact Mark Semmler at: mark.semmler@frontsite.de

Please read the text below for more information.


If you haven't joined one of our committee mailing lists, where more of the work is going on, visit:


and sign up to help us out!

Board Membership Changes

After being on our Steering Committee list since its formation, Josh Arnold recently indicated he needed to step aside because of other committments. He intends to stay subscribed to the mailing lists and hopes to be able to contribute to the Program Committee on an ongoing basis. We thank Josh for his willingness to step forward and help lead, and we do hope he can continue to be involved as our efforts move on.

With Josh's departure, the Steering Committee/Board took some time to identify what roles we needed to fill. We next considered who had contributed to the LPI effort in some meaningful way and spoke to a couple of people about joining the Board. At this time, we are pleased to announce Jared Buckley's addition to the LPI Board. Jared stepped forward to lead the Naming committee and has been an active contributor to several of our mailing lists. During the day, Jared works for Texas Instruments in Dallas, TX, where he supports the WAN and administers several covert Linux servers.

Please join us in welcoming Jared to the Board. His new responsibilities will include helping create newsletters such as this and generally helping to coordinate volunteer participation. He may be reached online at "jaredb@ti.com". (He will soon have an "lpi.org" address as well.)

Completed Level 1 Objectives

Over the last month, a dedicated group of participants worked to finalize the objectives for the first exam (T1) and the generic portion of the second group of exams (T2). These objectives were finalized in early June, allowing courseware developers and publishers to know what they should orient their materials toward.

We will soon have a web page online providing a simple list of the final objectives. In the meantime, you can visit our management system at:


Advisory Council Expansion

We are pleased to announce our expanded Advisory Council. We continue to receive great interest from a wide range of organizations. Our current Advisory Council membership includes (listed alphabetically by company, asterisk (*) indicates recent addition):

Jim Higgins, Caldera Systems, Director of Education Services
*Chris Tyler, Canadian Linux Users' Exchange, Certification Representative
*Jim Lacey, CompUSA, Director of Operations
*Fiaaz Walji, Corel, Certification Program Manager
*Stephen Solomon, Course Technology, Senior Acquisitions Editor
*Phil Carlson, ExecuTrain, VP of Business Development
*Katalin Wolcott, IBM, Mgr of Linux Services Development, IBM Global Services
*R.J. Bornhofen, Global Knowledge Network, Linux/Web Curriculum Manager
David Mandala, Linuxcare, VP of Education and Certification
Mark Bolzern, LinuxMall, President
Jim Dennis, Linux Gazette, "The Answer Guy"
Jon "maddog" Hall, Linux International, Executive Director
Phil Hughes, Linux Journal, Publisher
*Stuart Trusty, Linux Labs, President
*Julie Rowe, New Horizons Computer Learning Centers, VP of Products & Programs
Nancy Maragioglio, New Riders Publishing, Editor
Lonn Johnston, Pacific HiTech, VP North America
Donnie Barnes, Red Hat Software, Director of Technical Programs
*David Conran, SAGE (USENIX) Certification Committee
*Anita Booker, SGI, Global Customer Education Manager
Patrick Volkerding, Slackware, principal developer
Marc Torres, SuSE, Inc., President
*Dr. Lindsay F. Marshall, UK Unix User Group, Chairman
Deb Murray, UniForum, VP Professional Training & Development
Ken Kousky, Wave Technologies, CEO

We keep this list up-to-date on our web site at:


We had a great meeting with our Advisory Council members at LinuxExpo (you can see the pictures at http://www.lpi.org/expopix.html ) and appreciate all their support!

German "chapter" forming

When I knew I was going to be in Munich teaching some classes, (yes, Linuxcare expects me to actually do some work for them, too, and not just work on LPI!) I sent out a note asking if anyone would be interested in meeting. Juergen Off from frontsite AG contacted me and we arranged to meet.

Juergen and his colleague Mark Semmler brought me to the Biergarten in the beautiful Englisher Garten part of Munich and we had a very enjoyable evening eating, drinking beer and flipping somewhat randomly between talking in English and German.

Along the way, Juergen and Mark commented that there really wasn't much discussion of Linux certification within the German media and Linux community. They asked "what can we do to help spread the word here in Germany?" As we talked, Juergen suggested the idea of having a local German "chapter" of LPI... all three of us were intrigued by the idea and discussed the idea at length.

After that night, we exchanged more email and also shared the idea with others we knew in Germany. The others at frontsite AG were quite interested, as were the folks at SuSE with whom I communicated.

The LPI Board considered the subject and we, too, thought it was a great idea and gave the go-ahead to the frontsite AG folks to start a discussion and make it happen. Since there was so much interest, we thought this German chapter would be a great pilot program to see how this idea can work.

Mark Semmler wasted little time and sent off a note to the "linux-cert" mailing list asking if people would be interested. His full message, which includes his German text, can be found at:


Since this newsletter is going to a global audience and is written in English, I'm including only Mark's English text below so that you get a sense of what he and the others are proposing.

I know already there is great interest in meeting at the upcoming LinuxTag in Kaiserslautern, Germany on June 26th & 27th. It will be great to see what comes out of discussions there.

Please contact Mark at "mark.semmler@frontsite.de" if you are interested in becoming involved with this effort.

------ Begin Included Message ------
Subject: LPI Germany?! 
Date:    Thu, 24 Jun 1999 01:32:19 +0200 
From:    Mark Semmler <mark.semmler@frontsite.de>
<German text snipped>
Hello everybody!
We are tracking very interested since a couple of weeks the mailinglists of 
the LPI and we are just fascinated by the thoughts and the dynamic of this project.
During a meeting with Dan York early this month in Munich, the thought was born, 
to create a german-speaking chapter of the LPI.
The goals of this "chapter" should be:
 - promote the idea of LPI Linux certification through local
      media, conferences, publications, etc.
 - maintain German-language mailing lists and a web site
       (in German) to promote discussion of Linux certification issues
 - translate English LPI marketing and information materials into
      German for distribution within Germany
 - assist in identifying people/companies that can perform
      the translation of exam items (questions) into German
 - organize discussion groups and local meetings that bring
       together key players within the German training and larger
      information technology industry to move Linux certification
 - communicate ideas from the German-language discussion groups/lists
      back to the English-language discussion groups/lists
 - translate LPI news releases into German and distribute them
      to appropriate German news media
I'm sure there will be other tasks which develop as well.
This chapter should be organized like the LPI. 
Means: non-profit and independent.
We offer to host and to maintain the mailinglists and the webspace for 
such a project on our servers. The domainname could be "(www.)de.lpi.org" and/or "(www.)german.lpi.org".
Who is interested?
Juergen Off, Mark Semmler, Jens Kiefer, Heiko Franssen, Thorsten Linstead
------ End Included Message ------

Logo Contest Results

Those of you who have followed our web site and the past newsletters are aware of the Logo Contest that we ran for quite some time. There were some pretty amazing entries submitted by some very talented people. We set up a poll on our web site to get some idea of what viewers thought. In the end, the simplicity of Jorge Otero's design seems to have captured people's attention. You can check out all the designs at:


The LPI Board has not made a formal decision yet, but is leaning strongly toward using Mr. Otero's design.

Thank you to all the people who took time out of their day to create some artwork for us. It all is great!

Development Plan

On our web site, you can now find our plan for the development and implementation of our first level of certification. The plan, developed primarily by Scott Murray and Tom Peters, is available at:


The document will be updated over time as our plans evolve. Please check it out and send any feedback to Scott (scott@lpi.org) and Tom (tom@lpi.org).

Mailing List Archives

FYI, archives of all LPI mailing lists can be found at:


Messages posted to an LPI list are posted to the web archives within an hour. Note that we are still working on restoring the historical archives after a server crash, so they only contain recent information.

There is, however, an archive of the "linux-cert" mailing list going back to last November when this all began. It is still active and can be found at:


but again, because most of the activity has moved to the committee mailing lists and the web site, the archive does not reflect the full range of LPI activity going on today.

This second archive is now searchable at:


On the page, you must choose "Linux Certification" from the select button in order to search our archive.

We also just recently added our mailing lists to the archives at http://www.mail-archive.com/ - all of which are searchable archives.

linux-cert: http://www.mail-archive.com/linux-cert%40linuxcare.com/

linux-cert-program: http://www.mail-archive.com/linux-cert-program%40linuxcare.com/

linux-cert-corprel: http://www.mail-archive.com/linux-cert-corprel%40linuxcare.com/

linux-cert-pr http://www.mail-archive.com/linux-cert-pr%40linuxcare.com/

Thanks are due to Matthew Rice for pointing out the availability of mail-archive.com.

Final Thoughts

We're nearing the end of the first phase of our development. By the end of this month, people should be taking our first beta exam in VUE testing centers all around the globe. Our psychometricians will be analyzing data. Others will be finalizing our second (T2) set of exams. Another group will be working on translation of the exams into other languages. Yet another group will be starting work on the objectives for the Level 2 exams. Marketing programs will be underway.. we'll be gearing up for LinuxWorld in San Jose in August... it's going to be a crazy and exciting time!

I hope you'll visit our web site at www.lpi.org and join in the fun and excitement. It's only through the power of MANY people working together that we've been able to make this happen!

Thank you all for your continued support.

Previous ``Linux Certification'' Columns

Linux Certification Part #1, October 1998
Linux Certification Part #2, November 1998
Linux Certification Part #3, December 1998
Linux Certification Part #4, February 1999
Linux Certification Part #5, Mid-April 1999

Copyright © 1999, Dan York
Published in Issue 43 of Linux Gazette, July 1999