No DIY for open source training

Last April, IT Skills Hub released the results of a survey of IT job advertisements in the second half of 2003. Among a range of fairly bullish results, jobs requiring open source technology skills proved the biggest improver, with a 96 percent increase in the number of advertisements. Linux itself was third highest with 45 percent.

With these results, you’d be hopeful that there would be numerous avenues to gain such in-demand skills. But you’re going to have to look harder for the training than you might for the job ads. Very little is apparently available through tertiary institutions, with industry associations, vendors and smaller training operations the most likely sources.

Monash IT offers a short course in Linux entitled “Linux and open source in the workplace”, covering installation, configuring and administering Linux servers, network administration using Linux servers, and using Linux servers on a mixed network, including such software as postgreSQL, MySQL, Nagios and Qmail. It also provides customized training courses according to the specific needs of organizations. These courses can be delivered at Monash IT’s training facility in Melbourne’s CBD, or at the customer’s offices.

Monash IT recommends that students should do Unix courses first, which give students the necessary background knowledge to progress into the Linux courses.

Central Queensland Uni and RMIT offer Unix systems administration courses that use a Linux distribution platform. Other than that, you’re onto the private sector.

The Linux Professional Institute offers certification, largely targeted at system and network administrators. Certification is available through exams conducted at sites throughout Australia, with more details available from www.lpi.org.

Red Hat, while participating in the LPI’s advisory council, offers its own certification, with currently two levels: RHCT (Red Hat Certified Technician), which measures actual competencies at system administration, including installation and configuration of a Red Hat Linux system and attaching it to a live network running network services; and RHCE (Red Hat Certified Engineer), which measures actual competencies at server system administration, setup of networking services, and network security, and diagnostics and troubleshooting.

A new course, the RHCA (Red Hat Certified Architect), was due to be announced as this article goes to press, and is designed to attract companies interested in building architectures based on open source technologies or looking to expand existing infrastructure.

The most popular courses are the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RH300) and Red Hat Linux Systems Administration (RH133). The RH300 is suitable for people who have several years Linux or Unix systems admin experience and includes the RHCE certification exam. As Red Hat Enterprise Linux is being more readily adopted in the enterprise space, RH133 is for users of Linux who “want to get into the nitty gritty” of systems administration.

Spherion also offers the Red Hat Linux Academy program, both within Spherion diplomas and as a stand-alone certification. It says it has noticed an increased number of enrolments in Linux Red Hat over the last year, with a trend towards diplomas that encompass certifications.

Dot Educate offers three Linux courses: Linux + Certification (five days) covering a broad awareness of Linux operating systems; Linux Fundamentals (four days) for students with no prior Linux experience (or perhaps even any real IT experience); and Linux System Administration (four days), a follow-on to the fundamentals course.

Dot Educate also offers vendor-neutral Linux certifications through its partnership with Brainbench, covering Linux administration (general, Red Hat, Red Hat 9 and SuSE versions) and Linux programming (general). Shane Paola, sales and marketing manager for Dot Educate, says the company is noticing an increase in demand for Linux training predominantly from within the government sector.

CompTIA offers one certification in Linux, CompTIA Linux+ certification, a vendor-neutral credential that provides a broad awareness of Linux operating systems in installation, operation, administration and troubleshooting services. This certification is geared toward those with six months field experience.

However, a major revision of this certification exam will be introduced late in the fourth quarter of 2004. More than three-quarters of the topics covered and knowledge required to pass the current exam are being changed in the new version to reflect an expanding range of Linux job tasks. The most notable differences between the current and future exam are the additions of sections on security and documentation and a significant decrease in the emphasis on hardware.

Better Access, an open source training specialist, primarily offers courses in OpenOffice, but also trains in Gimp (open source graphic package) and says it will soon be able to offer a course on installing Linux.

The Australian-based CBT training company Datatask has a Linux course that can be taken a module at a time or as part of a larger training system.

MySQL has a couple of courses offered globally: the Core MySQL Certification aimed at professional MySQL users in the fields of SQL, data entry and maintenance, and data extraction for reporting; and the Professional MySQL Certification for more experienced users in such areas as database management, installation, security, disaster prevention and optimisation (the Professional has a prerequisite of the Core course).

Current training courses available in Australia include:

  • Using MySQL (two days) covering the fundamentals of MySQL (fast track)
  • Managing MySQL (three days) covering administration and optimisation of MySQL servers and applications;
  • Introduction to databases using MySQL (four and a half days) covering the fundamentals of SQL and relational databases, using MySQL as a teaching tool (in-depth track, suitable for users with no prior experience)
  • Developing dynamic Web applications using MySQL & PHP (five days) covering the basics of MySQL in combination with PHP, including some tools and best practises.

Upcoming training courses include:

  • MySQL Cluster for High Availability (four days) for experienced database developers
  • Using & Developing with MaxDB (four days) focuses on how to use MaxDB from a developer point of view.
  • MaxDB Administration (three days) on how to use MaxDB from an administrator point of view. MySQL says it is seeing increasing numbers of migration users, mainly from Oracle, but also from Microsoft SQL Server and others. Advanced Training, in partnership with Cybersource (the company run by Con Zymaris, who is also chief spokesperson for the Open Source Industry Association), has the following courses:
  • Linux Network Administration 4, which maps to the LPI 101 and 102 exams, counting towards LPI certification.
  • Courses on OpenOffice Writer, Calc, Impress and Draw, all at introduction, intermediate or advanced levels, with no associated exam or certification.
  • Unix shell scripting and PHP introduction, with no associated exam or certification.

Currently, the introduction and intermediate level courses run for half a day, and advanced courses for a full day.

Edgar Kautzner, business development manager with Advanced Training, says that “Especially with the adoption of the Linux kernel in Netware 6.5 and Mac OSX, and the popularity of Linux for various network services, the Linux Network Administration 4 course is currently our most popular. This is primarily targeted at people relatively new to the Linux platform, especially existing Windows administrators with little or no Linux experience. There is a strong focus on the hands-on aspects, and practical administration of Linux servers. During the course, students will set up a real network running a variety of services, and gain a thorough understanding how to operate a Linux server system.”

Les Bell and Associates has a range of courses, the most popular being the basic Linux System Administration course, and the Hacking and Securing Linux course, which was introduced last year. Its LX102 to LX105 series of courses are designed to meet the requirements for LPI certification. However, all courses are available independently. Bell says that most attendees at his courses are from large corporate or government customers, with the occasional self-employed IT consultant; “I’m not seeing people from the small business end at all.”

Digital Distribution offers training in all aspects of OpenOffice 1.1, with lessons presented in Flash format through a Flash-enabled web browser. Free lessons are available at www.digitaldistribution.com.

And, if you think you’d rather dodge these suppliers and do-it-yourself (it is open source, after all), you might heed the words of Monash IT managing director, John Dowell: “Too many professionals, because of the open source nature of Linux, think they can teach themselves.

These people don’t have the fundamental skills because they work in Microsoft-dominated environments, so training is necessary. There is a lack of skills, and there is also a growing need for skills as vendors continue to push open source. To prepare for the future, it’s essential that professionals get these skills in Linux — and they can’t get these through self-teaching.”

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More about Advanced TrainingBrainbenchCompTIACybersourceDatataskIT Skills HubLinux Professional InstituteMicrosoftMySQLOracleRed HatRMITSpherionSuse

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