2014년 12월 29일 월요일

Review of 1-day LFCS Preparation Course - LFS202

  On Friday, Dec. 12th Central Standard Time (CST in the United States), I participated in a one-day Linux Foundation class LFS202 offered through Google Hangouts with an optional dial-in telephone bridge in case the class suffered from audio problems. The class is designed as a prep session to briefly go over each of the topics from the LFCS (Linux Foundation Certified System Administrator) exam syllabus which is as follows (circa Dec. 2014):

Command-line
  • Editing text files on the command line
  • Manipulating text files from the command line
Filesystem & storage
  • Archiving and compressing files and directories
  • Assembling partitions as RAID devices
  • Configuring swap partitions
  • File attributes
  • Finding files on the filesystem
  • Formatting filesystems
  • Mounting filesystems automatically at boot time
  • Mounting networked filesystems
  • Partitioning storage devices
  • Troubleshooting filesystem issues
Local system administration
  • Creating backups
  • Creating local user groups
  • Managing file permissions
  • Managing fstab entries
  • Managing local users accounts
  • Managing the startup process and related services
  • Managing user accounts
  • Managing user account attributes
  • Managing user processes
  • Restoring backed up data
  • Setting file permissions and ownership
Local security
  • Accessing the root account
  • Using sudo to manage access to the root account
Shell scripting
  • Basic bash shell scripting
Software management
  • Installing software packages

Our teacher for the 8-hour class (7 hours of instruction, 1 hour break for lunch) was Kevin C. Smallwood, a Computer Science graduate from Purdue University who began his career in IT back in the days of ARPAnet and Motorola 6800 assembly language and worked on UNIX, BSD, and later LINUX machines while on staff at the Purdue University Dept. of Computer Science and the Computing Center. He possesses RHCS, RHCE, LFCS, and LFCE certifications. He is also a certified Redhat instructor.

In the LFS202 session I participated in, we had a total of 7 people in a Google Hangout (in addition to 1 'participant' which was actually a telephone voice bridge). Here is a screenshot of the Google Hangout:



When entering the G+ Hangout, Kevin asked everyone to turn off their cameras and microphones so we wouldn't hear ambient noise from each others' microphones. Although all participants are welcome to unmute their mics to ask questions, everyone seemed more comfortable asking questions through the group chat window on the right-hand side of the Hangout.

Kevin went through each of the topics on the syllabus above and showed examples using the Google Hangout screenshare feature. Since the LFCS and LFCE allow candidates to choose among Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, and CentOS as their testing platform, Kevin used several different virtual machines in VMware Player to illustrate how to accomplish various system administration tasks across the three distros.

This class is suited to those with an intermediate level of Linux knowledge. At the beginning of the class, Kevin pointed out that students should be familiar with all the topics covered in the free Linux Foundation LFS101x offered on edX. In fact, Kevin actually developed some of the curriculum for the first edition of the LFS101x course for Autumn 2014, namely, Chapter 13 Manipulating Text (covering sed, awk, grep and piping multiple commands together).

Although I am familiar with most of the GNU coreutils, it was enlightening to (virtually) look over Kevin's shoulder as he illustrated the infinite ways we could pipe output of one command to many others. For example, the LFCS exam might give you the following task:

Print all user accounts, sort them, remove duplicates, and count how many lines remain.

awk -F : '{ print $1 $6}' /etc/passwd | sort | uniq | wc -l

The first command prints the 1st and 6th columns from /etc/passwd which is then piped to sort, uniq and finally wc to count the number of unique lines. Kevin showed us countless other examples which I found very helpful, as I am not very familiar with sed and awk.

I felt more comfortable with the other topics on the syllabus having to do with filesystem administration tasks like manual partition creation using fdisk, creating LVM partitions, and editing /etc/fstab, as I encounter these tasks day-to-day in my job as a Linux System Engineer.

The class was a real pleasure to take and I think the Linux Foundation is lucky to have access to such experienced instructors. The only gripes I have are administrative.

(1) The class times on the Linux Foundation Training page are incorrectly listed in UTC, but in reality, the classes are on American Central Standard Time which is UTC -6 hours. See the screenshot below:




You can see that Start Time reads 00:00 UTC

This really confused me, because Korea is UTC +9 hours, so I thought that maybe the class might start at 9am Korea time. During the winter, there is a 15-hour time difference between American CST and KST (Korean Standard Time). Therefore I started class at midnight 0:00 on Saturday, Dec. 13 after a long day at work. It would be nice if the LF listed the proper time in UTC or got rid of UTC entirely and just listed times in CST to avoid confusion.

(2) More Flexible Class Hours for Non-US Students

I know there are some excellent English-speaking engineers in India, which is just a few hours behind the UTC+9 time zone that included Korea and Japan. Also Australia is in roughly the same time zone with East Asia. I think adding Australian or Indian instructors would be one way to expand the reach of Linux Foundation live sessions to more students around the world.

If the time difference wasn't such a big obstacle, I would definitely register for more online courses offered through the Linux Foundation!