TAFE Tasmania and Chisholm Institute in Melbourne will offer Linux training this year through Red Hat's Academy program.
The Academy courses are based on the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) program, with some modifications to enable it to be taught through schools, universities and colleges.
Red Hat Australia/New Zealand Services Manager Peter Durie said the modifications were mainly to enable the course to be taught over a longer period of time than the RHCE program.
"The Academy program also aims at students with very little to no knowledge of Linux," he said.
Manager of Information, Technology and Multimedia at Chisholm Institute, Rosi Ryan, said she was able to introduce the Red Hat training to the college due to funding from the 2004 Sustainable Development Program of the Victorian Office of Training and Tertiary Education.
"We recognised that Linux is a growing area and that imbedding the training into existing programs, as well as offering it on its own, would provide students with the most up-to-date skills possible," she said.
Ryan said she had two staff trained with Red Hat to teach the course, and she would consider training more staff, as she expects the course to be popular.
Although only the two courses, Red Hat Linux Computing Essentials (RHA 030) and the Red Hat Linux Core System Administration (RHA 130), are available at the moment, this number is likely to grow.
The RHA 030 aims to teach students to be effective users of Linux systems, acquiring skills in and understanding of command line functions, file systems, users and groups, bash shell, process management, text editors, network applications, searching and organising data, and graphical applications.
The RHA 130 aims to teach students to be effective administrators of Linux systems. It covers hardware and device configuration, file system management, user administration, network configurations, kernel services, attaching new Linux systems to a corporate network, configuring the new systems for end users, and troubleshooting.
Any school, university or college wanting to teach the course has the option of testing students for Red Hat Certified Technician (RHCT).
As part of the deal, each computer lab on the campus will receive the latest Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system.
Each course consists of 60 to 70 contact hours and is designed to enable a mix of instructor-led computer lab work and self-paced work outside the lab. All curriculum material resides on Red Hat's infrastructure and can be accessed at any time by teachers and students.
Durie hopes to roll the course out to other educational institutions in Australia in the next few years.
"Hopefully other colleges and universities will see how successful the course is at TAFE Tasmania and Chisholm Institute, and will want to come on board," he said.
"We are also working with State Governments towards introducing the program to schools, but I am anticipating this will take some time. TAFE colleges and universities are much more flexible with their curriculum."
Durie said academic institutions were a natural channel through which to introduce Linux knowledge and skills. He would not specify how much it would cost institutions to teach the curriculum.
"The cost varies depending on the amount of enrolments and other factors," he said.
Any school or college wanting to teach the course must get staff trained with Red Hat first.
"By making sure that teachers of the Academy program hold an RHCE, we can ensure the quality of the training," he said.