The Linux Foundation recently created an Intro to Linux course that they made available for free on the edX training platform. I decided to take the course and recently completed it. The course is still available and is free. (It is $250 if you want the “Verified Track” to prove you took, and passed, the course. The course is self paced and online.
My Linux background includes maintaining my own web server on Linux. I learned what I needed to (but not much more) and managed the server from the command line. I shut down my server a few months ago and figured this would be a refresher while filling in some gaps. Plus, this training is targeted to desktop users. My last desktop Linux usage was Mandrake Linux (now Mandriva) about a decade ago and I wasn’t too impressed.
As I mentioned, the course is self-paced and it’s estimated to take 40 to 60 hours. I didn’t time myself and since I did have experience my time isn’t a good indication anyway. The 40 to 60 hours seems reasonable for someone who is new to Linux although much of that time would be working the labs and exploring on your own.
The course uses three distributions for its examples: Ubuntu, CentOS and openSUSE.
The course is called an introduction and lives up to the name. There’s broad coverage that doesn’t go very deep. The course is divided into 18 chapters:
- The Linux Foundation
- Linux Philosophy and Concepts
- Linux Structure and Installation
- Graphical Interface
- System Configuration From The Graphical Interface
- Command Line Operations
- Finding Linux Documentation
- File Operations
- User Environment
- Text Editors
- Local Security Principles
- Network Operations
- Manipulating Text
- Bash Shell Scripting
- Advanced Bash Scripting
- Common Applications
Each chapter is sub-divided into sections that focuses on one area in the Chapter.
There is some good content within each section. But to really learn you’ll need to work on your own to see what does and doesn’t work. That said, if the goal is to pass the test at the end it’s not too difficult. All the needed material is in the course and there’s no time limit on finishing the final exam. Plus it’s not only open book, it’s open everything.
That ease of passing makes the course unsuitable for using it as proof of knowledge when looking for a job. At least in my opinion. I’d recommend against spending the $250 for the verified certificate which could be included on a resume. There may be exceptions, if you’re new to Linux and want a Linux related job it may help, but you’ll need to consider the course material a starting point and dig in some more.
The material is a mixture of short videos (I only recall one that was over 2 minutes), text and some do-it-yourself examples. The do-it-yourself examples really only enforce the material by having you do it. Some are just typing tests where you’re given the information you need. If you get it wrong you’re given the answer and then have to enter it again. There are a few questions at the end of each section.
Each Chapter has a lab for you to do on your own. The answers are also provided. This is the only part of the training where you need your own Linux installation. The do-it-yourself sections of the training are done online, not in your own Linux installation.
It’s an introduction course so it can’t be faulted for being basic. I did learn a little. But if you have some self-taught Linux experience like I do, you aren’t going to learn a lot. I’m guessing I spent less than one hour per chapter, so there wan’t a big time investment and it was free. I’d recommend anyone think twice before spending the $250 for the verified track but the course is worth the time investment if you’re new to Linux and want someplace to start.