An Interview with Dan York

We caught up with Dan York, President, board of directors of Linux Professional Institute (LPI), at O'Reilly Open Source Software Convention at Monterey, California on July 20th, 2000. Over the past few years Dan has contributed significantly towards the development of an independent Linux certification program. He was kind enough to take time out of his busy schedule to share following thoughts with us.

  dy = Dan York
  lc = LinuxCertified
     
  lc: Do you have any guesstimate of how many people have attempted Linux certification exams?
  dy: I don't know how many have attempted the other programs, but LPI has had about 500 people take our
exams so far since they came out earlier this year (2000).
   
  lc: How is LPI doing? Is it getting appropriate support from community & corporate sponsors?
  dy: Things are going *great* for LPI right now. We're finishing up the Level 1 exams and starting to work on Level 2. The publicity we're getting has been great and people are commenting on the quality of what we're doing. The support from within the Linux community has been VERY strong and quite inspiring. Likewise the corporate support has been strong, too. I mean, look, we've got at least 6 different large
corporate training operations developing courseware pointing at our objectives, plus many more smaller centers. There's over 150 training centers preparing people for our exams. And there's 4 or 5 books coming out from major publishers... so all in all, that's a great amount of support in my opinion.
   
  lc: How does LPI maintain its neutrality in face of its funding from few corporate sponsors?
  dy: There's not really much of an issue. The sponsorship plan is laid out very clearly on our web site. We have 35 corporate sponsors and 7 individual sponsors. All of them understood when they were sending in the sponsorship that they were helping move LPI forward. But with a sponsorship they do not get to say where we spend the money. They are there to advise us and help us, but there are still a core of neutral individuals who are overseeing the program and ensuring that it moves forward in a completely neutral fashion. I should say, too, that we feel it is extremely important that LPI be "neutral" in terms of being independent of both software vendors and also training providers.
   
  lc: How do LPI volunteers make their "ego-bucks" ? After all they are not churning out cool code!
  dy: Well, I think those of us who are involved with LPI are in this because we believe in the need for a Linux certification program that is independent from any vendors. We believe in that goal. We want to see it come from Linux professionals instead of from a company. That's what drives us. So I think the gratification comes from the support we've received... and from seeing the program become reality. That's really it. If we get recognition from others within the community, great. But regardless, we have built a solid Linux certification program that will stand the test of time.
   
  lc: What is the status of current and future exams with LPI?
  dy: The first level exams are basically all set. 101 has been finished and is in the conversion process so that within a few weeks people will get their scores at the end of the exam. In the meantime, we're still scoring them manually. 102 has been out in beta for some time, but we should be ending that shortly and sending out score reports and finalizing the exam. So within the next few weeks we should be all set.

We're starting Level 2 development right now. We have to outline what tasks someone might do as an "advanced Linux system administrator". It's a bit of a process but those exams should be in development for the rest of the year.

Simultaneously to all of this, we're also looking at translations. A group of Japanese companies has funded a Japanese translation of our exams. Other languages will no doubt come after that. So it's an exciting time.

   
  lc: Any comments about other certification efforts; SAIR and RHCE specifically.
  dy: Well, *all* certification efforts help grow the pool of people who can support Linux, so all of them help in the big picture. And given that there is no "Linux, Inc." to dictate certification terms, anyone is welcome to start up their own cert program. Red Hat had theirs underway before we started. Sair developed alongside ours but using a for-profit model and developing courseware. Different models. But in the end they all help grow the pool of people who can support and deploy Linux.
   
  lc: Any advise for our students, who are working hard to get their LPI certification?
  dy: Yes, I would encourage them to get as much hands-on experience with Linux as possible before they take the exams. I'd suggest that they should install several different distributions to understand how things are done the same and differently from distro to distro. If they can find a couple of systems and set up a little Linux network, that will be ideal. The great thing is that you can go get some old, basically useless systems and they can be an excellent tool for learning. Hook the network up to the Internet. Try using ipchains to do IP masquerading. Add users. Secure the system. Essentially, just play with it. Learn it. Take the objectives for the exams that you can find at www.lpi.org and go through on your system and make sure you can perform the tasks mentioned. That's the key. I wish them all the best as they prepare for the exams.
   
  lc: Thank you for your time as well as for your great efforts towards developing Linux certification.

 

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