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Exam Profile: LPIC-2 (201 and 202)

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William "Bo" Rothwell, author of LPIC-2 Cert Guide, shares details to help you prepare for and pass the LPIC-2 exams (201-400 and 202-400).
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First published in November 2001, the LPIC-2 certification is designed for advanced Linux administrators. As with the LPIC-1 certification, you must pass two exams (in this case, 201 and 202) in order to earn the LPIC-2 certification.

The first exam (201) focuses on topics that are related primarily to "local" services and features. Although these topics are germane to both server and workstation systems, they're considered "local" because they're not related to providing network-based services to other systems. Expect questions that test your advanced knowledge on the kernel, system startup, devices, and installing software from source.

The second exam (202) focuses exclusively on providing network-based services, with questions on configuring and securing a variety of server software. This includes a variety of web server topics as well as file-sharing services such as Samba, NFS, and FTP. System and network security are also important topics, including authentication techniques, firewalls, and router configuration.

Candidates who have already taken the LPIC-1 certification exams tend to compare the two certifications. The comparison sometimes causes confusion because the two sets of exams appear to have redundant elements. For example, both exams test candidates on their ability to administer filesystems. However, the LPIC-2 exam questions test a much deeper understanding of the topic. The LPIC-2 exams also include a great many topics that are not covered at any level on the LPIC-1 exam.

Because the LPIC-2 exams test advanced Linux administration knowledge, you should have at least five years of experience before attempting this certification. It is also highly recommended that you earn your LPIC-1 certification before attempting the LPIC-2 certification.

One reason that might convince you to attempt the LPIC-2 certification exams relates to the status of your LPIC-1 certification. LPIC-1 certification is considered valid for a period of five years. After that period has passed, your LPIC-1 certification is considered to be "expired." You can renew your LPIC-1 certification by taking the 101 and 102 exams again, or you can earn your LPIC-2 certification, which automatically renews your LPIC-1 certification for an additional five years.

Exam Details

  • Number of questions: 60 in each exam.
  • Types of questions: Multiple choice with 4–5 options and either single or multiple answer. Also expect to see fill-in-the-blank questions.
  • Passing score: 500 (from a scale of 200–800).
  • Time limit: 90 minutes.
  • How to register: For LPI exams, start at the Linux Professional Institute (LPI) to get a member ID and a link to Pearson VUE to schedule an exam.

Trouble Spots

One of the challenges of studying for these exams is that they are supposed to be "vendor-neutral." This means that you shouldn't expect any distribution-specific questions; however, it doesn't mean you can study successfully using any Linux distribution. You should pick a "mainstream" distribution such as Red Hat, Debian, CentOS, Fedora, SUSE, or Ubuntu. Be prepared to discover that the exam objectives don't match up exactly with how things work in your distribution.

You should also take into account that the exams were created in 2012 and released in 2013. Linux has changed since then! Pay close attention to the exam objectives. If the exam covers NFSv3 and your system uses NFSv4, understand that the two releases will work differently, which might affect your ability to answer questions correctly on the exam. Recommendation: Use an older version of the Linux distribution you've chosen.

Another issue is primarily related to the second exam, which deals with a lot of network-based client/server relationships. You really should have at least two systems for your exam practice. Recommendation: Use virtual machines (VMs). Not only does using VMs allow you to have both server and client, but you can also test different distributions.

When you review the exam objectives, you'll find that many topics can be tested on an exam. You may have a great deal of experience with some of these topics and little to no experience on others. Exam objectives are weighted from 1–10. The higher the value, the more questions on that topic the exam will include. Recommendation: Focus your study and practice on the objectives with higher weight values.

Another potential issue is the fill-in-the-blank questions. You have probably become accustomed to using man pages to look up options and features. You won't be able to do that when taking the exam; you're expected to have this information memorized. Recommendation: Create and work with flash cards to learn common options and features, especially for commands and services that you don't work with on a regular basis.

Preparation Hints

In addition to the recommendations previously mentioned, consider the following suggestions:

  • Although these exams are not considered "hands on," the importance of real practice cannot be overstated. Configure a system; then rebuild it and configure it again. Explore the man pages for your distribution to discover additional exam-related features, and try to configure these features.
  • Use virtual machines. A lot. Virtual Box is a good option to manage the virtual machines. You should have at least three different distributions (I suggest CentOS, Ubuntu, and SUSE). If you're configuring an Apache web server, try to do it on all three distributions. Try setting up a feature or service first by following specific directions, a second time by viewing documentation only, and a third time with no external resources (working from memory only).
  • It's important to have a good guide to lead you through the material, such as a study guide and the official topic list. You could be learning thousands of commands; make sure that you spend your time learning the right ones.

Recommended Study Resources

A study guide that is written for the new exam objectives is your best resource for passing the LPIC level 2 exams. One excellent book is the LPIC-2 Cert Guide (ISBN: 9780789757142), which was written and reviewed by experienced trainers and experts in the field.

Exam Topics

LPIC-2 (201-400) Exam

Topic 200: Capacity Planning

  • 200.1 Measure and Troubleshoot Resource Usage (weight: 6)
  • 200.2 Predict Future Resource Needs (weight: 2)

Topic 201: Linux Kernel

  • 201.1 Kernel Components (weight: 2)
  • 201.2 Compiling a Linux Kernel (weight: 3)
  • 201.3 Kernel Runtime Management and Troubleshooting (weight: 4)

Topic 202: System Startup

  • 202.1 Customizing SysV-Init System Startup (weight: 3)
  • 202.2 System Recovery (weight: 4)
  • 202.3 Alternate Bootloaders (weight: 2)

Topic 203: Filesystem and Devices

  • 203.1 Operating the Linux Filesystem (weight: 4)
  • 203.2 Maintaining a Linux Filesystem (weight: 3)
  • 203.3 Creating and Configuring Filesystem Options (weight: 2)

Topic 204: Advanced Storage Device Administration

  • 204.1 Configuring RAID (weight: 3)
  • 204.2 Adjusting Storage Device Access (weight: 2)
  • 204.3 Logical Volume Manager (weight: 3)

Topic 205: Networking Configuration

  • 205.1 Basic Networking Configuration (weight: 3)
  • 205.2 Advanced Network Configuration (weight: 4)
  • 205.3 Troubleshooting Network Issues (weight: 4)

Topic 206: System Maintenance

  • 206.1 Make and Install Programs from Source (weight: 2)
  • 206.2 Backup Operations (weight: 3)
  • 206.3 Notify Users on System-Related Issues (weight: 1)

LPIC-2 (202-400)

Topic 207: Domain Name Server

  • 207.1 Basic DNS Server Configuration (weight: 3)
  • 207.2 Create and Maintain DNS Zones (weight: 3)
  • 207.3 Securing a DNS Server (weight: 2)

Topic 208: Web Services

  • 208.1 Basic Apache Configuration (weight: 4)
  • 208.2 Apache Configuration for HTTPS (weight: 3)
  • 208.3 Implementing Squid as a Caching Proxy (weight: 2)
  • 208.4 Implementing Nginx as a Web Server and a Reverse Proxy (weight: 2)

Topic 209: File Sharing

  • 209.1 Samba Server Configuration (weight: 5)
  • 209.2 NFS Server Configuration (weight: 3)

Topic 210: Network Client Management

  • 210.1 DHCP Configuration (weight: 2)
  • 210.2 PAM Authentication (weight: 3)
  • 210.3 LDAP Client Usage (weight: 2)
  • 210.4 Configuring an OpenLDAP Server (weight: 4)

Topic 211: E-Mail Services

  • 211.1 Using E-Mail Servers (weight: 4)
  • 211.2 Managing Local E-Mail Delivery (weight: 2)
  • 211.3 Managing Remote E-Mail Delivery (weight: 2)

Topic 212: System Security

  • 212.1 Configuring a Router (weight: 3)
  • 212.2 Managing FTP Servers (weight: 2)
  • 212.3 Secure Shell (SSH) (weight: 4)
  • 212.4 Security Tasks (weight: 3)
  • 212.5 OpenVPN (weight: 2)

Where to Go from Here

After passing LPIC level 2, consider taking the next step: LPIC level 3. There are three LPIC-3 certifications:

  • LPIC-3 300: Mixed Environments
  • LPIC-3 303: Security
  • LPIC-3 304: Virtualization & High Availability
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