rednuhter writes "LPIC 1 Exam Cram 2 is the authoritative tree-based text to aid and abet interested parties accomplishing a LPI LPIC level 1 certification, Which (roughly translated) is the first (not quite open source) Linux exam for junior (intermediate) sysadmins; more information is available at Linux Professional Institute. It is (currently) the only (up to date) printed guide for the Linux Professional Institute Certification (LPIC) Level 1 exam." Read on for the rest of rednuhter's review.The LPI is a non-profit organization bringing high-quality Linux certification to the masses, including multilingual exams across continents. LPIC Level 1 is designed to certify a junior sysadmin in Linux and is composed of two exams. This first level (101) has an optional (minor) 'branch' of either RPM or DEB package management, with RPM being used on predominately Red Hat-based systems and DEB being the preferred method for Debian based systems. The second level (102) is much more 'on the job' administration duties (see LPIC objectives).
I purchased the book last year after deciding I had no reason to try and keep my windows 95 MCP up to date and wishing to (formally) extend my Linux knowledge. I hit a wrong turn after spending quality time with Que's "General Linux 1" [ISBN]0-78972292-5] to find (as I went to book the exam) the format and topics had changed a fair amount in four years (LPI is constantly evolving...).
It was fine book with some good Lab sections, however it was not preparing me for the onslaught that is the seriously tough LPIC Level 1 exam. After a quick rant in the LPI mailing lists, a friendly poster [firstname.lastname@example.org] noted that a book did exist (recently printed) that accumulated one of the premier LPI Linux trainers knowledge and experience, and by no coincidence he was the author.
My previous guide had been only 340 pages long so I was concerned to find this was closer to 600! Luckily the author wastes nothing, with a considerably helpful introduction, followed by details of the LPIC 101 (both flavors) and the 102 exam culminating in the full LPIC Level 1.
The first half of the book is dedicated to the 101 exam, which is the first part of the LPIC level 1 certifications. This included a lot of trouble-shooting steps for basic booting of Linux with hardware configuration and included vi usage (key strokes, buffers, regular expressions), XFree86 (config and understanding) to text processing with tee, tac, sed etc. The detail involved also dipped into modems, CHAP scripts, hardware identification, jobs, processes, chmod, grep, exit statuses and much much more. This also where the RPM/DEB specifics some in; although I have used Debian for many years I opted to take the RPM exam simply because I believe RPM is more widely commercially used, not that I think it is a better packaging system. These skills are an excellent grounding for basic Linux use and understanding, giving rounded knowledge of all the key areas a Linux user should be aware of.
Each chapter has an example exam and the author often makes use of these to introduce new ideas and concepts to encourage the user to research further. These answers are accompanied by explanations of not only why the right answers were correct, but why the wrong answers were incorrect.
The second half of the book (after a quick 66-question 101 test exam) is much more geared to a junior sysadmin and I found it quite hard going. Topics range from runlevels, daemons, users/groups, kernel compilation, modules, shells, scripting, networking, services, printing and security. As you may imagine, some of these topics are quite extensive and I personally found this half much more difficult to absorb. Note there is only one 102 LPIC exam, there is no RPM/DEB choice. This list does not really do the subject matter justice, as it goes into such things as custom subnet masks, network time utilities, Apache, sendmail, crontabs and even more.
This was followed by a set of 77 test 102 questions with both a quick answer key and a complete set of explanations.
The book includes a pull-out Cram Sheet which can help you memorize things such as the IRQ/IO address for serial ports, the different man page sections and common printer commands.
The author also notes how best to prepare for taking and even resitting the exam (the LPI has a concise retake policy).
The actual exam questions and areas are weighted, and you should ensure you review for the heavily weighted sections at least as much if not more that the lower-weighted ones.
The key 'trick' to passing the exams is to have tried the commands yourself and seen the results, I cannot emphasize this enough! The LPI 'seems' to favor (currently) 2.4.x kernels in the FHS File Hierarchy Standard RPM and DEB varieties, I did most of my investigation either with Knoppix via qemu(in windows) or Debian sid running the 2.6.x kernel. (However, most topics are vendor/distribution neutral and kernel and other obvious differences are noted.)
Although this book contains a lot of examples, it is not for beginners, unless you want to base your Linux learning on it. Sysadmins will find it too simple in places, but should not be complacent as they will find some knowledge nuggets buried that will ultimately help them pass the exams.
The book is easy to read, with some real-world examples that are ideal to reinforce the information presented. (It has been noted that practice lab sections could have been included; see author reply here)
Unfortunately, there are a fair number of misprints, technical inaccuracies and spelling mistakes current errata but a quick session with man will set you straight and very few directly spoil the otherwise accuracy of the book (the author notes that a second reprint is addressing these).
The CD comes with the obligatory PDF version of the book and a test program, this has caused some problems for some Linux users although fixes are now available. The test program tries to recreate the testing environment, with optional timer and instant result features. I personally found it very useful to identify areas I was weak in and required further investigation.
The book does a good job not to stray off into GPL licensing or any other non (LPIC Level 1) related topic, leaving further investigation up to the reader offering links where relevant.
It took me about 15-20 hours to revise for the 101 RPM exam and I passed with (apx) 96% where as the revision for the 102 exam was over a much longer period (and a more turbulent part of my life) taking about 40-50 hours which gave me a (apx) pass of 86% (remember the questions are weighted, my percentage scores are simply against the number of questions I got right and makes me feel good).
Not only did I find the book easy to get on with and an indispensable asset for passing the exam but it has had pride of place on my desktop and makes an excellent reference tome.
The LPI website does now list Ross's book and there are various other resources available for a quick google, or just wait for the Slashdot crowd to fill up the comments below.
You can purchase LPIC 1 Exam Cram 2 from bn.com. Slashdot welcomes readers' book reviews -- to see your own review here, read the book review guidelines, then visit the submission page.