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Comdex. This year's Comdex (the 20th anniversary of this massive show) features the "Linux Business Expo" for the first time. This page is being written in the LWN booth among a great deal of noise and confusion. If it seems even more incoherent than usual, that's the reason.

It's only Wednesday, and it has been a long, strange trip... noise wars between the Caldera and Linux Today booths... Slashdot trades in beanbags for Aeron chairs... who are those XLinux girls anyway?... did Linux Today really have to bring an accordion?... Conectiva Linux comes north... that shiny new LinuxMall van... $20 to park a car... sure would be nice to have restrooms on the same floor... Corel's surround sound system... you mean there was a conference program too...? and why o why can't Comdex provide an Internet connection that works?

But seriously, the Linux Business Expo has proved to be useful in a couple of different ways. First of all, the exhibitors are mostly walking around with highly pleased (if tired) grins on their faces. This exhibition has been good for the business of Linux. The next Comdex LBE will be substantially larger.

More interestingly, the LBE has turned out to be a top-quality Linux advocacy event. There are tremendous numbers of people here who know little, if anything, about Linux; they learned a lot here. The LBE got Byte's "Best of Comdex" award for a reason - the good stuff is here, and people are seeing that. It is hard to imagine a better way to bring more people into the Linux sphere.

See our Comdex page for some coverage and photos.

Moves in Linux professional certification. It has been a busy week on the certification front, as two competing organizations make announcements and seek to become the de facto certification standard. Some of what's going on includes:

  • The Linux Professional Institute has announced the completion of its first certification examination. It will be deployed globally within a few weeks. This exam is distribution independent, and covers basic administration concepts. It will be followed by a second, more advanced distribution independent exam (perhaps by the end of the year), then a series of of distribution-specific tests. Certification requires passing both of the first two, and one of the distribution-specific exams.

    The first few hundred examinations will be run in a "beta test" mode, intended to help calibrate the questions and determine the passing score. Look for the LPI to run a contest or provide other incentives for people to take the test during the beta period.

  • The LPI has also announced the addition of SGI to its list of sponsors; SGI delivered a $50,000 check at a press conference at Comdex. While reiterating its committment to Linux, SGI also noted that it is adding several, training courses on Linux subjects, aimed at LPI certification.

  • The LPI's competitor SAIR announced a whole set of things, including an agreement with John Wiley and Sons to distribute SAIR training materials; an agreement with Compaq to train Compaq employees toward SAIR certification; and, most significantly, the completion of its series of four exams for its first level of certification.

The end result of all this is that certification for Linux professionals will be available from two sources shortly. This news gives rise to a couple of questions...

Is there room for two certification organizations? (Actually three, counting Red Hat's distribution-specific program). That depends on a number of factors, including the demand for certification in general, the quality of the individual programs, and the demand for Linux administrators in general. If all goes well, both programs could be around for a long time.

Is Linux professional certification really necessary? Certainly not everybody is sold on this point. Certification has its uses, however. It does provide a minimal assurance to employers - especially small businesses and human resources departments which lack the technical background to truely judge job applicants. It gives training companies a target to aim for - and it gives students a way to judge trainers as well. And certification is an important part of Linux's public image in general. It is not for nothing that Microsoft, in its Linux Myths page, asked how many certified Linux engineers there are. The existence of a credible certification organization is an important step in corporate adoption of Linux.

Thursday, November 25, is the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday; the LWN weekly edition will not be published that week. The daily updates page will be updated as always, and the weekly edition will return on December 2.

Inside this week's Linux Weekly News:

...plus the usual array of reports, updates, and announcements.

This Week's LWN was brought to you by:


November 18, 1999

 

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