Red Hat System Administration Class

This week I completed a week long training class on RHEL system administration. The class “RHEL 124” was centralized for Windows admins looking to break into Linux administation. Had I paid more attention I would have picked the CLI class instead.

Fortunately I’m comfortable enough in Linux these days that I was able to just do all the classwork using the CLI equivalent of the GUI tools that were taught. But this was a small reprieve from what was otherwise a horrible class. I would like to point out I don’t believe it’s in any way the fault of the instructor at Exit Certified – my beef is with the way in which Red Hat lays out their cource objectives and materials.

My favorite part of the class was where we were given a ‘case study’ scenario in which we were directed to log into a fictional user’s account (that’s not our own) and sort through the pictures of their wife saved in their home folder. We had to sort them, and delete the “bad” pictures.  I can’t make this stuff up!  Other tests were much more mundane and had a complete lack of realistic scenarios or creativity. Usually the case studies were barely any more than “Do the stuff we just taught you on the last page, but pretend your name is Bill while you’re doing it and that your manager is micromanaging so much that it’s weird he isn’t just doing it himself.” In fact, the first step for most case studies is to run a script that undoes all the settings you just made while learning how to do a specific task. You have to do that because the case study invariably has you set nearly the exact same settings a second time.

To me, the class more resembled “how to use advanced features of a desktop OS”.  The real system administration taks were all under the hood – I caught glimpses of them by opening and evaluating the “lab-setup-*” scripts that would prepare the machines for specific case studies. Those automated scripts… those are real sysadmin tools. But we never even went over the ‘cat’ command that one would use to look at those scripts in a real world.

I can’t recommend enough that if you’re looking to break into Linux system administration, take the boot camp version of the class, and bring a healthy dose of imagination and work experience to be able to put what you learn into actual realistic system administration know-how.