I mainly deal in Microsoft certifications but one of the requirements for the MCSA: Linux on Azure is passing the "Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator"-certification. After getting used to how Microsoft and Pearson Vue handles exams it's fun to see how others handle it.

The first thing I noticed is that there are little information about the exam out there, which is one of the reasons why I write this.

I didn't know what I was getting into and promptly failed my first attempt at this exam. Luckily, they offered a free retry and a few days later I passed the exam. This is what I learned about the LFCS exam.

Format of the exam

Just to summarize what the Linux Foundation website says; this exam is done over the net, 2 hours deadline and the passing score is 74%.

There are plenty of difference between this exam and Microsoft exams.

First of all, it's all practical. The questions will be actual tasks that you need to do. The tasks will be displayed on the left side of the screen while the emulated server is on the right side.

This works out fine most of the time. However, certain keyboard shortcuts won't work as you're in a browser. The first time I took it I failed a question because I couldn't use shortcuts in nano and I didn't know how to do the task in Vim... I searched the web for a how-to as soon as I was done with my exam.

What you need to know

The list of exam domains is extensive, but I kinda feel like it is misrepresenting the exam a bit.

Even though the exam seem basic there are more than one thing that screwed me over, the questions (or tasks, if you like) are long and have a tendency to seem like they try to trip you.

One of the requirements is to know how to use text editors to manipulate text. Seems basic, but that one question might be get text from file 1 and insert into file 2, remove line 6000 and replace the line 7493 with line 2034. Also, change all the occurrences of a certain word with another.

Be sure to know how to do the following:

  • Manipulate sudo access beyond just adding a name to the sudoers file. This is something I'd like to write a post about, so feel free to subscribe for more like that.
  • Manage FSTAB not only to mount disk drives at boot but file shares as well. Make sure you know the different options so you can mount as read-write, read only, etc.
  • Manage SSH options like securing it with SSH-keys and disallowing root to connect through SSH.
  • Little more than basic understanding of user management and permissions and it really did help to go deep into this topic. You should know how permissions work and how to grant it to users or groups. You really want to know how to create users and groups, assigned home directory and change default shell. You will also be asked to set up how users will be created by default.
  • How to work with tarfiles like creating uncompressed and compressed archives, viewing, extracting to certain folders et cetera. An example is that you want to find all files that contain a certain word with the command find and then make a .tar containing those files.
  • Know IO-redirection well as this will make your life easier, a lot easier.
  • Working with find was half the reason why I failed the first time. You really want to know how this command works and what you can do with it.

Bonus tip: Make sure you know how to use man

You can use any resource that is available locally on the machine. Most programs, scripts or commands have a manual which explains how they work so be sure to use it.

You don't have to memorize the parameter that will use bzip compression when you make a tar file, you can run man tar and find it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't try to memorize how commands work but I checked the manual a lot to make sure that I actually did the right thing.