LPI suggestions

Evan Leibovitch 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 
unsolicited) page?

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 :-).

Evan Leibovitch
President, LPI

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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