Alina Swietochowska | 13 July 2012
Following the footsteps of his big brother UNIX, Linux has been quietly and steadily increasing its market share. At 20, Linux is no longer a baby. Initially earmarked for server environments, Linux has been taking desktop and mobile markets by surprise, by responding to technology advances promptly and successfully.
In turn, QA needed to respond by remodeling the related portfolio. Here, we concentrate on the efforts we made in constructing a portfolio capable of reacting to the ever increasing demands of the Linux server technologies. We adopted two goals in the Linux course revision: firstly, we decided to increase the range of the platforms we can utilise; secondly, we increased the depth of the content, to provide coverage of the more advanced topics and technologies.
Our new portfolio will continue using a Red Hat derivative (such as CentOS or Scientific Linux) as the default platform for the courses, simply because we find that Red Hat is still by far the most popular distribution amongst our customer base. However, in recognition of the significant number of SUSE-based enterprises, and the increasing interest in Ubuntu, we have also created a course deployment allowing courses to run on those alternative platforms. In parallel with course platform flexibility, practical exercises have been extended to include particulars of tasks that are specific to a distribution. Thus the new content can be utilised on demand during closed events, for on-sites, as additional post-course work, etc.
Content scope and depth
Our traditional portfolio has always been designed to offer a solid skill set for entry point administrators, developers and other operating system related professions. Our fundamental approach of being vendor-independent remains firm. We point out the good, the bad and the ugly in equal measures, often letting the delegates decide what's useful, appropriate and required for them. We merely demonstrate how things work and how to find detailed or further information. Such an approach allows concentrating our efforts fully on exploring the inner-workings of the operating system and its tool-set without wasting time on non-technological issues...
The new portfolio extends this approach and logic into a set of new and more advanced technology aspects and topics. Together, the original and the new courses provide a comprehensive training extending the anticipated audience to already accomplished system administrators, who require a more in-depth knowledge and skills, to be able to deploy and secure a Linux server. All new content is still generic and applicable to any leading distribution. Where significant differences exist, we point them out (for example in service, software packages or repository management).
So, to that end, we have remodelled the existing Linux essentials (QALXESS) and Linux administration (QALXADV) courses to extend the coverage of the applications and tools, as well as expand the practical component of these events. The Bash scripting course (QALXBASH) remains unchanged at this stage, and it should continue providing an excellent support for those who realise that the ability to automate tasks is rather indispensible in the Linux world...
Two new courses have been added, Building a Linux Server (QALXSRV) and Securing a Linux Server (QALXSEC). The first of the two courses explores how a server is built and deployed, looking in turn at the major server application, their configuration and deployment. Amongst the 'typical' topics, such as the various networking servers, we also tackle LDAP and SELinux, which are often omitted from training materials. The second of the two additions, the security course also includes the discussion (more in-depth) of SELinux, and offers a discussion of all aspects of Linux security, from physical, through the operating system kernel, to selected applications. User and file security, as well as authentication techniques are explored.
The diagram below depicts the current portfolio: