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Certification of professionals is a time-honored tradition in many fields, including medicine and law. As small computer systems and networks proliferated over the last decade, Novell and Microsoft produced extremely popular technical certification products for their respective operating system and network technologies. These two programs are often cited as having popularized a certification market for products that had previously been highly specialized and relatively rare. These programs have become so popular that a huge training and preparation industry has formed to service a constant stream of new certification candidates.

Certification programs, offered by vendors such as Sun and Hewlett-Packard, have existed in the Unix world for some time. However, since Solaris and HP-UX aren't commodity products, those programs don't draw the crowds that the PC platform does. Linux, however, is different. Linux is both a commodity operating system and is PC- based, and its popularity continues to grow at a rapid pace. As Linux deployment increases, so too does the demand for qualified and certified Linux system administrators.

A number of programs such as the Linux Professional Institute (LPI), the Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) program, and CompTIA's Linux+ have formed over the last few years to service this new market. Each of these programs seek to provide objective measurements of a Linux administrator's skills, but they approach the problem in different ways.

The RHCE program requires that candidates pass multiple exam modules, including two hands-on and one written, whose goals are to certify individuals to use their brand of products. The Linux+ program requires a single exam and is focused at entry-level candidates with six months' experience. LPI's program is a job-based certification and currently consists of two levels that focus on two-year (Level 1) and four-year (Level 2) experienced candidates.

The Linux Professional Institute

The Linux Professional Institute ( is a nonprofit organization formed with the single goal of providing a standard for vendor-neutral certification. This goal is being achieved by certifying Linux administrators through a modified open source development process. LPI seeks input from the public for its exam Objectives and questions, and anyone is welcome to participate. It has both paid and volunteer staff and receives funding from some major names in the computer industry. The result is a vendor-neutral, publicly developed program that is offered at a reasonable price.

LPI currently organizes its Linux Professional Institute Certification (LPIC) series in two levels: LPIC Levels 1 and 2. Each level consists of two exams that are priced at about U.S. $100 each (prices vary by continent). This book covers the LPIC Level 1 Exams 101 and 102 in Parts I and II, while LPIC Level 2 Exams, 201 and 202 are covered in Parts III and IV.

LPI is in the process of building a third level of exams, which will focus on specialty fields. It is also working with other organizations to start building certification modules based on the LPI standard.

Level 1 is aimed at junior to midlevel Linux administrators with about two years of practical system administration experience. The Level 1 candidate should be comfortable with Linux at the command line as well as capable of performing simple tasks, including system installation and troubleshooting. Level 1 certification is required prior to obtaining Level 2 certification status.

Level 2 is for senior Linux system administrators and team leaders. A Level 2 administrator is likely to have four or more years of practical administration experience. Beyond the ability to work effectively with native tools on standard Linux distributions, Level 2 covers customizing all aspects of your Linux systems, from the kernel to its filesystems, as well as implementing a number of network applications for Linux servers. At a glance, Level 2 Objectives may appear to overlap several areas of content with Level 1; however, the depth and expertise level required is much higher. Often, a Level 2 candidate is expected to be the individual that a Level 1 candidate would refer to for higher-level projects or problems within a production environment.

Level 2 certification will be required prior to obtaining the future Level 3 certification status.

All of LPI's exams are based on a published set of technical Objectives. These technical Objectives are posted on LPI's web site and for your convenience printed at the beginning of each chapter within this book. Each Objective set forth by LPI is assigned a numeric weight, which acts as an indicator of the importance of the Objective. Weights run between 1 and 8, with higher numbers indicating more importance. An Objective carrying a weight of 1 can be considered relatively unimportant and isn't likely to be covered in much depth on the exam. Objectives with larger weights are sure to be covered on the exam, so you should study these closely. The weights of the Objectives are provided at the beginning of each chapter.

Audience for This Book

The primary audience for this book is, of course, candidates seeking the LPIC certification. These may range from administrators of other operating systems looking for a Linux certification to complement an MSCE certification to Unix administrators wary of a growing pool of Linux-certified job applicants. In any case, this book will help you with the specific information you require to be successful with both the Level 1 and Level 2 Exams. Don't be fooled, however, as book study will not be enough to pass your exams. Remember, practice makes perfect!

Due to the breadth of knowledge required by the LPI Objectives and the book's one-to-one coverage, it also makes an excellent reference for skills and methods required for the day-to-day use of Linux. If you have a basic working understanding of Linux administration, the material in this book will help fill gaps in your knowledge while at the same time preparing you for the LPI Exams, should you choose to take them.

This book should also prove to be a valuable introduction for new Linux users and administrators looking for a broad, detailed introduction to Linux. Part of the LPI exam-creation process includes a survey of Linux professionals in the field. The survey results drive much of the content found on the exams. Therefore, unlike general-purpose introductory Linux books, all of the information in this book applies directly to running Linux in the real world.


This book is designed to exactly follow the Topics and Objectives established by LPI for Levels 1 and 2. That means that the presentation doesn't look like any other Linux book you've read. Instead, you can directly track the LPI Objectives and easily measure your progress as you prepare.

The book is presented in four parts. Part I covers Exam 101 and Part II covers Exam 102. New for the second edition, we have added Parts III and IV to cover Exams 201 and 202 for LPI's Level 2 Exams. Each part contains chapters dedicated to the LPI Topics, and each of those sections contains information on all of the Objectives set forth for the Topic. In addition, each part contains a practice exam (with answers), review questions and exercises, and a handy highlighter's index that can help you review important details.

Book Chapters

Each part of this book contains some combination of the following materials:

Exam overview

Here you find an introduction to the exam along with details about the format of the questions.

Study guide

This chapter offers a few tips to prepare for the LPI Exams and introduces the Objectives contained in the Topic chapters that follow.

Topic chapters

A separate chapter covers each of the Topic areas on the exam. These chapters provide background information and in-depth coverage for each Objective, with On the Exam tips dispersed throughout.

Review questions and exercises

This chapter reinforces important study areas with review questions. The purpose of this section is to provide you with a series of exercises that can be used on a running Linux system to give you valuable hands-on experience before you take the exams.

Practice test

The practice test is designed to be similar in format and content to the actual LPI Exams. You should be able to attain at least an 80% score on the sample test before attempting the live exam.

Highlighter's index

This unique chapter contains highlights and important facts culled from the Topic chapters. You can use this as review and reference material prior to taking the actual exams. This chapter was omitted from parts II and IV due to the variety and complexity of topics disscussed in those sections.

There is also a glossary at the back of the book, which you can use to help familiarize yourself with different Linux-related terms.

Conventions Used in This Book

This book follows certain typographical conventions:


Italic is used to indicate URLs, filenames, directories, commands, options, system components (such as usernames), and to highlight comments in examples.

Constant Width

Used to show the contents of files or the output from commands.

Constant Width Bold

Used in examples and tables to show commands or other text that should be typed literally by the user.

Constant Width Italic

Used to show arguments and variables that should be replaced with user-supplied values.

#, $

Used in some examples as the root shell prompt (#) and as the user prompt ($) under the Bourne or Bash shell.

On the Exam

Provides information about areas you should focus on when studying for the exam.

Tip: Indicates a tip, suggestion, or general note.

Warning: Indicates a warning or caution.

A final word about syntax: in many cases, the space between an option and its argument can be omitted. In other cases, the spacing (or lack of spacing) must be followed strictly. For example, -wn (no intervening space) might be interpreted differently from -w n. It's important to notice the spacing used in option syntax.

Using Code Examples

This book is here to help you get your job done. In general, you may use the code in this book in your programs and documentation. You do not need to contact us for permission unless you're reproducing a significant portion of the code. For example, writing a program that uses several chunks of code from this book does not require permission. Selling or distributing a CD-ROM of examples from O'Reilly books does require permission. Answering a question by citing this book and quoting example code does not require permission. Incorporating a significant amount of example code from this book into your product's documentation does require permission.

We appreciate, but do not require, attribution. An attribution usually includes the title, author, publisher, and ISBN. For example: "LPI Linux Certification in a Nutshell by Steven Pritchard et al. Copyright 2006 O'Reilly Media, Inc., 0-596-00528-8."

If you feel your use of code examples falls outside fair use or the permission given above, feel free to contact us at

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How to Contact Us

We have tested and verified the information in this book to the best of our ability, but you may find that features have changed (or even that we have made mistakes!). As a reader of this book and as an LPI examinee, you can help us to improve future editions. Please let us know about any errors you find, as well as your suggestions for future editions, by writing to:

O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North
Sebastopol, CA 95472
800-998-9938 (in the U.S. or Canada)
707-829-0515 (international/local)
707-829-0104 (fax)

There is a web page for this book where you can find errata, examples, and any additional information. You can access this page at:

To comment or ask technical questions about this book, email:

For more information about our books, conferences, Resource Centers, and the O'Reilly Network, see our web site:

If you have taken one or all of the LPIC Exams after preparing with this book and find that parts of this book could better address your exam experience, we'd like to hear about it. Of course, you are under obligation to LPI not to disclose specific exam details, but comments regarding the coverage of the LPI Objectives, level of detail, and relevance to the exam will be most helpful. We take your comments seriously and will do whatever we can to make this book as useful as it can be.


The size and complexity of the LPI tests required the collaboration of numerous authors and reviewers to get this edition done. Material was contributed by Bjrn Ruberg (Sendmail, DNS, networking, printing), Adam Haeder (file and service sharing, web services), and Faber Fedor (troubleshooting).

For the second edition, we thank reviewers Keith Burgess, Donald L. Corbet, Chander Kant, and Rick Rezinas.

Bruno dedicates his work to his grandfather, Oswaldo Cabral Pessanha, in memorium.

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