[lpi-discuss] Server vs. Wrokstation (was Some Objective Feedback

Alan McKinnon alan at linuxholdings.co.za
Tue Sep 13 17:50:06 EDT 2005

On Tuesday, 13 September 2005 22:13, ross e. brunson wrote:
> On Tue, 2005-09-13 at 13:16 -0400, Ian Shields wrote:
> > It seems to me that we really need to resolve this in order to
> > have a meaningful discussion about what topic should be in which
> > level or which exam.
> I understand what you are saying, but do we really have to change
> the exams to do this?

I don't think so, see below

> > So I took a look at the topics in the 101 and 102 exam
> > objectives, and it seems to me that we could make a good case for
> > keeping the above emphasis. I would suggest that, with the
> > exception of Topic 113 which has more of a server emphasis, that
> > all of the remaining topics for exams 101 and 102 are reasonable
> > topics for a workstation admin type. We can probably argue small
> > details, but let's just look at the bigger picture for a moment.
> >
> > If I then look at the 201 and 202 exam objectives, these appear
> > to be much more server related or more in-depth than the 101 and
> > 102 objectives. So I'd vote to keep the distinction, and maybe
> > emphasize it rather than trying to push more server emphasis into
> > LPIC-1.
> I agree that 200-series are more server-related, but frankly I
> would expect a more advanced sysadmin to deal with more
> server-based issues, primarily because they aren't working in the
> lower ranks and easier problems anymore, and the fact that more of
> the services an advanced admin would contact or configure or
> troubleshoot occur on the server level.
> I would submit that the LPIC levels are laid out currently in a
> manner that matches the skill levels of the constituency, when you
> are a junior-varsity admin you mostly fix little local stuff, lots
> of commands and troubleshooting, with very little designing of
> multi-machine NFS or Samba interaction or Kernel debugging etc.

The basics that are tested at LPIC-1 level are not so much workstation 
stuff as basics that apply to all Linux machines. Apart from Topics 
113 and 110 there's very little that applies one or the other.

I agree with Ross that LPIC-2 is a step up from that, with more focus 
on Linux systems than on single machines. However, several LPIC2 
grads I have spoken to mentioned that there wasn't much perceived 
difference in difficulty between LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 in the areas of 
network services and kernel. That's probably an issue with items 
though, fixed by generating new ones that are harder.

> > I think if we can reach agreement on this, then picking the rest
> > of the objectives apart and putting them in the right places
> > would be easier. I guess my feeling is that the overviews on
> > http://www.lpi.org/en/lpic.html are appropriate and that we
> > should use those as a basis for further discussion.
> >
> > What say ye all?
> We should continue to discuss this, I think the idea of associating
> workstation topics with the 100 level might have merit, but we
> should be aware that having the majority of our certified admins
> suddenly be perceived as technical lightweights or not capable of
> handling server-related tasks is risky to say the least.
> We should be aware of all the implications of what we are
> discussing, that's all.

I've been looking at this very thing recently with regard to Ubuntu. 
Historically, the exam Topics date back 5 years or so, when desktops 
were quite immature and workstation admin wasn't much of an issue. 
Folks using Linux in industry used it as a server. So on LPIC-1 we 
have junior stuff and LPIC-2 is deeper stuff at a higher level. I 
haven't heard any complaints about that general view so I assume 
we're all agreed on it.

What I've seen in the last week is that there is very little 
difference server side between different distros, so our generic 
approach works very well. It ain't broke, so let's not fix it.

Workstation support is more tricky. It has two components, in terms of 
size the minor one is what you do at the CLI - /etc/hosts, mount 
points, etc. All adequately covered with our current objectives. The 
major part is the desktop, then we get into the whole 
kde/gnome/xfce/e16 thing. The only commonality is X and display 
managers which is fully covered in topic 110. A junior tech giving 
support on the desktop will have his days filled with 
desktop-queries: arts, xmms, amarok, automounters. I find generic 
objectives on such things to be a very scary area.

A way to do that is to have an extra distro-specific exam, a 103 if 
you like. SuSE and Ubuntu have been mentioned in this regard, I think 
it's a good plan. Overall, the current split seems to work. Here and 
there things need updating, like USB 2.0. Summary as I see it:

LPIC-1 is basics. Workstation issues common to all distros belong here 
as juniors tend to fix these issues.
Other workstation issues are best handled with a 103 for that distro.
LPIC-2 updated to current technologies as necessary. Workstation 
topics don't really belong here

> Don't get me started on redesigning Level 2, I want to see it be
> one Core Exam with multiple electives that focus on various areas
> such as database, sysadmin, security, integration etc.

That's the mythical LPIC-3 isn't it? :-)


Alan McKinnon
alan at linuxholdings dot co dot za
+27 82, double three seven, one nine three five

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