evan at lpi.org
Mon Jun 30 02:31:24 EDT 2003
Hello everyone. Sorry to take so long to respond, but I'm in São Paulo
delivering exams and Internet access has been spotty so far.
I would like to address a number of the comments that have been made
about the "positioning" (to use the marketing lingo) of LPI
certifications related to others in this space. I first want to say that
I (and the LPI staff as a whole) *always* appreciate this kind of
discussion -- we are a community organization and you are a citical part
of that community. Having passed the LPI program, you are in a better
position to evaluate it (and its benefits and weaknesses) than most.
Now, a few points about the discussions so far:
1) Regarding a chart, I can understand why some people might want one
but I think it would be a bad idea for LPI itself to make one. As one of
the certifications on the list we're being asked to make, we would
certainly be accused of bias no matter how fair we try to be. IOW, this
is something that perhaps an independent journalist might do as a
service, but LPI is one of the "sides" and it would be very hard for
*us** to make a chart that RedHat and CompTIA would agree to. Then
before you know it they're doing their own charts and we're all in the mud.
2) LPI has never listed "requirements": based on years of experience.
Indeed, IMO that is a totally marketing-driven stat and as such can so
easily be manipulated as to be worthless.
Our requirements are simple and straightforward -- knowledge of our
objectives. If someone takes four days or four years to learn them, it
doesn't matter to us. LPI (or any certification) is no substitute for
experience and we don't (and can't) test for experience -- just how well
the candidate knows their stuff in an objective manner.
We must stress as we have been -- LPI (or any other certification) is
*not** a substitute for experience or good references or other hiring
techniques. Even a good certification (as we believe L:PI is) does not
compensate for poor HR hiring practose that leans too heavily on
certification. Makiing a chart like this implies that LPI's program can
simply be compared against RHCE or Linux+ like that, and they can't. At
very least we ought to discourage charts like this, and encourage people
to look a little deeper why to use or respect a cert. Then they get to
see that there are other dimensions, such as preparation options and
psychometric development, that get lets off of simple charts like these.
3) I (and LPI as an organization) have repeatedly rejected the kind of
naming scheme William presented, after thoughtful (and lengthy!) debate.
For one, the names are not intuitive as a hierarchy (Quick! What's the
higher level cert -- Engineer or Master?). The term Engineer for vendor
certs is an improper (and in some cases, illegal) misappropriation of a
term that should be limited to university degrees. Because vendors do
it for marketing reasons is not reason enough for us to continue to do
the Wrong Thing. And lastly the names are English-centric -- a numbering
scheme makes far more sense for a program DESIGNED to be global.
I note that the current numbering scheme was devised not by LPI's Board
or staff, but by our Advisory Council.
4) Making certifications for their own sake is not a good use of LPI's
limited resources.LPI needs to do a better job outlining our roadmap of
Level 3 and the desktop certification we are starting to develop. In
these discussions we have considered but rejected the super-user certs
as not being worthwhile to employers.
The three pillars of LPI are quality, community and integrity. We are
not a traditional vendor IT certification and ought not to engage in
their bad tactics jjust because the vendors do them. Maybe in the short
term we are hurt because we don't play the same games as other certs,
but in the long run we will be better off. LPI has the support and trust
of its community because, like Linux itself, we do not always play by
the same rules as conventional vendors. IT Certification is decreasing
in respect because in large part how they are marketed.
We are on the right track. Our numbers have held steady during severe
economic problems that have badly hurt elsewhere in the IT field. Our US
affiliate has only recently come online. We have been told by VUE and
Prometric that our first few years have resulted in FAR higher numbers
than Microsoft, Novell and CompTIA had in their early years. And our
numbers are ready to explode in areas such as Brasil and Germany where
new affiliates are forming.
There are MANY things we can do to boost our program that don't involve
us engaging in ill-advised marketing tactics. We *ARE** different from
Novell, Microsoft and Red Hat certs and that is an advantage, not a
drawback. See http://test.lpi.org/en/lpi-rh.html for one example that
will be on the new web site. What do you think of that (completely
IMO, our fundamental philosophy is better, which leads to more relevance
and less hard selling. We are trying to change the perceptions of the
industry, and industry that accepts abuse not tolerated in other fields.
Would you accept it if you had to get your drivers'license from Ford?
Would you trust a doctor whose medical degree came from Glaxo?
Red Hat has often talked about its cert being superior to LPI's. We now
have an increasing number of unsolicited third party comments that
LPIC2 is not only more challenging than RHCE, but that RHCE depends to a
large extent on RH-specific tools
not found in other distros. While the LPIC2 cert is fully applicable to
RH distribitions, RHCE skills are not easily ported to other distros.
Stated another way, going with LPI prevents vendor lock-in -- and isn't
that why people switched to Linux in the first place?
One other thing -- LPI is committed to adding hands-on capability to our
exams. I have even started to attend meetings of the Performance Testing
Council, which promotes this style of testing, However, LPI must do this
in a manner that is consistent with our core goal of widespread
accessibility. RHCE test centers are measured in dozens, LPI's in
thousands. RCHE is $800 and RCHT is $400 at a time when people around
the world are telling us that even $100 each for two exams is far too
expensive (in China, $100 can be an IT worker's salary for a MONTH!).
Where does this fit on a comparison chrt?
LPI is developing a number of new delivery methods that will add
task-based items and adaptive testing techniques to conventional exams,
while keeping costs low and worldwide accessibility high. This is a
significant challenge but I believe the LPI community is up to it :-).
PS: I recently spoke to my counterpart at Red Hat about the possibility
of us working together more closely. It won't happen. RH won't do
anything that will "dilute the brand" -- that is, make it look like
"just another Linux". And that means that it won't even do a joint press
release with LPI, which is why it won't support our planned desktop
certification (even though it has no plans to do its own). Oh well.
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