26 Jun 2013, 07:10

RHCE Certification

I just became recertified as a ‘Redhat Certified Engineer’ . I held the certification up to RHEL5, however the cert expired once RHEL6 came out. I’ve been doing a senior sysadmin role for quite a few years now and so employment-wise, having the certification is perhaps less relevant, but felt it would be good to test myself out to make sure I still ‘had what it takes’.

Due to a non-disclosure agreement every exam taker has to sign, I won’t be discussing details of the exam but just giving some general thoughts.

Due to my prior experience, I didn’t feel a instructor-led course was necessary. I took the course the first time around and would highly recommend it to anyone who is either new to Linux or doesn’t enjoy self-paced study. I used Michael Jang’s book ‘Practice Exams: RHCS/RHCE’ and found that to be a perfectly adequate preparation. I put aside 2 days to go through all the material and found that to be just enough time - I certainly wouldn’t want any less time to prepare!

It’s absolutely critical that you have a machine that you can install RHEL from scratch, and re-install if necessary. I setup my laptop with KVM + Libvirtd and spawned several VMs for this purpose however you could get by with 2 physical machines: one for general Internet access (Google etc) and the other for hacking on. The study book comes with a DVD containing 3 pre-built VMs which you can also use. Also, having an actual copy of RHEL is not necessary - Centos or Scientific Linux will suffice.

Redhat require that you have a current certification in the lesser RHCSA before being entitled to the RHCE. I opted to do both exams on the same day - RHCSA (EX200) in the morning (2.5hrs) and RHCE (EX300) in the afternoon (2hrs). I found the RHCSA to be quite straight forward. I had finished and reviewed my answers with still about 15mins to spare. The RHCE on the other hand was much more pressured time-wise and was working right up until the final moment. Leaving the exam room, I was really unsure whether or not I’d passed the RHCE as I was sure I’d fluffed at least a couple of the questions.

The exam results are not given straightaway, and can take up to 3 business days. I got my RHCSA result the same day - 100% woot!!!, but waited another 2 days for the RHCE result - 86%. The result is simply a score out of 300. There is no breakdown of what you got right or wrong, which is a little frustrating.

On a final note, I really think Redhat should re-consider the rules around re-certification for RHCEs. If you’ve held an RHCE before and work as a Linux professional, the requirement for re-certification should be relaxed. The candidate should only have to sit the actual RHCE exam itself rather than both exams. Ideally, if someone has held an RHCE before, they should not be required to re-certify before going for the higher certifications i.e. RHCA