CompTIA Linux+ passed :)

CompTIA Linux+ logo

Around this time last year my colleague Barry Whitehouse suggested the idea of self-studying together for CompTIA \ LPI Linux+ certification.

In the past I’d dabbled in Linux, mainly for running firewalls in previous jobs but not really delved into it as deeply as perhaps I would have liked. This seemed a great way to expand knowledge and help with creation \ management of Linux servers as they’re required.

We decided to use the official study guide as our primary source of information and at the same time ordered some exam vouchers before realising that they expire after a year (sneaky!) Once they were purchased we’d unwittingly given ourselves a timescale to complete LX0-101 and LX0-102 by.

whutInitially we tried to stay an hour or so after work once a week to work through the content but that soon became difficult once summer projects started picking up speed, anyone who’s done self-study after a full working day has my sympathy! For a while progress tailed off and I started counting the months left until expiry date… it kept getting closer and the book wasn’t getting thinner fast enough…

At that point I decided to change strategy, originally my aim was to read cover-to-cover and then do some practice exams to see how much I’d learnt. In a similar vein to PRINCE2 that can become a laborious task. Not really a fault of the author but because the content is quite full-on and you can get lost in a sea of what can initially look quite random command line parameters and config files, especially coming from a primarily Windows background.

Plan B… run some Linux VMs and admin them purely from command line and try to learn from doing then fill in the knowledge around the experiences. That helped to a reasonable extent and brought common file locations and commands into typing finger muscle-memory, although still lots of detail needed to be learnt to get to exam-passing standard. However working purely from the command line like has proved to be very useful for managing some servers I need to work on for my job role, definitely part of the reason I’ve really skilled up in this area in the last year or so.

Plan C… read backwards… (?!)

This seems to be a method that’s working much better than it sounds, basically I started doing chapters the book in reverse – doing the review questions first on a topic I knew very little about and seeing how much of it I could figure out through problem-solving and logic alone. That got me to about 40% scores on practice questions so I decided to keep a Notepad window open while answering questions and note down the items needing clarification – suddenly the process becomes a bit more interactive 🙂

There’s a school of thought that says that physically writing things down will help with memory but in this case I think typing actually works better, bearing in mind

The simple yet incredibly useful ss64 website http://ss64.com/bash/ proved invaluable for quickly looking up command syntax and looking back at my history About.com seems to be a regular visit as well http://linux.about.com/od/commands/l/blcmdl.htm In other cases I’d stumble across discussions on sites like stackoverflow.com or a random Linux forum to try and get a bit more background around why a command looks the way it does.

One thing I did notice with the book is that it’s very easy to focus on the textual paragraphs and by the time you get to the examples and tip highlights you can easily miss the detail. Working backwards means you focus in on the bit that’s (un)familiar i.e. the command and then find ways to memorise it (mnemonics or whatever works best dependent on your learning style).

Last week I did LX0-101 then left myself all of a week to do LX0-102 (!) Easter weekend came at the right time for that and by the day of the second exam on Tuesday I was fully in the zone with /etc .conf and all manner of other pathnames, variables and files whizzing around my head. The end result makes it all worthwhile though, passed with a nice high score (790 in both exams) and the certification arrived in my inbox today. Barry also passed his second exam today so we’re now both safely over the certification finish line 😀

IMAG1071
There’s a weight off my shoulders, 500 pages of book is heavier than it looks…

What next? I might look at LPIC-2 in the future but right now my focus is going to be around learning SharePoint as part of the next phase of our Office 365 implementation. Quite a change in technology but could prove a very interesting, if challenging project. More on that soon but for now I’m going to enjoy a weekend without exam revision!

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