Me vs. RHCSA

masqmasq Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
Hi everyone.
First I want to say - this is gonna be one of those threads like "RHCSA help" or "My RHCSA studies" and so on, with the only difference that I don't treat such forum threads like my own personal blog, so I'm not going to post things like:
"Day 1. Today I studied X for Z hours, still got Y things to learn"
"Day 2. Blablabla.."
I bet you got me right.
Why rhcsa ?. - Got a job offer, the company's IT-infrastructure is RHEL-centric, so I thought it would be wise enough to get certified. Besides, I realized that it is time to say "Farewell" to my beloved sysVinit, as all major distros already switched to systemd, not to mention that RH company absorbs the most perspective technologies like kvm, ansible, to name a few. Well, that's how I see things.

So yeah.. Starting my rhcsa journey, any tips for me ?
How long will it take to finish rhcsa studies? Like, I do have previous linux experience, but I don't know anything about RHEL-specific things, and I already started to forget how to use yum and rpm, lol..
Anyway.. I'll appreciate all of your recommendations.
Thanks.
2018:
  • RHCE

Comments

  • BodanelBodanel Posts: 214Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    First time I took RHCSA it took me about 5 months but with up and downs. It was about 3 years after finish my bachelor and during those 3 years I didnt study anything except tutorials needed for work. When you get such a large break from learning it's very hard to start again but I suggest to not give up and continue.
    When I decided to go for RHCSA I used lots of labs. I think this is the best method for learning.
    Take the exam objectives one by one. Read about it, try to gasp the concept, dont memorize it.
    Try labbing that objective. If it works, good for you. Most of the times this will not work since maybe you didnt get the concept, you missed a step or something like this. But this will help you later when you'll need to debug something
    If the lab was successfull try to acomplish the same task but in a different way (example: create a partition with both fdisk and parted). Move on to the next objective.
    Try to build your own lab using the objectives and what It may be required for your job. I have Vugt's book which I find very nice but I never used the lab he provided, I've build my own. It's a good practice.
    I know it sucks but do at least a few installs by hand. It will help you when you get to the kickstart part.
    USE ROOT for lab. I know people advise against it but if you break something and you'll need to debug you will learn quite alot.

    P.S. While systemd has is downsides it is a nice piece of software.
  • masqmasq Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    2Bodanel
    I wonder why didn't you follow Sander's guide for labbing, but built your own lab? From what I've read on the web, his book is considered one of the best, or at least - sufficient for passing rhcsa exam. Is something wrong with his labs or what?
    PS. Thanks for your response! I really like reading about someone's experience in passing exams and individual preparation methology, so to say.
    asummers wrote: »
    Hey there. Thanks for sharing this, already checked it ; ) .


    A couple of things I forgot to mention -
    - It looks like the rhcsa exam runs on RHEL v.7.1 starting from June 2016 , it has some minor changes comparing to v7.0 , and not a single book cover these changes. Well.. Difficulties awaiting I guess.. These changes touch NFS, LDAP, and some other stuff.. gonna check it myself later.

    - It's been said for thousand times that redhat exams are practical, and you gotta be fast on the exam, but not only that - The tasks given to a candidate are somewhat "vague", they are like being given from a real non-technical person, and must be treated from user's perspective.. For example you deployed apache, but forgot to open 80th port via iptables, - that's it, thing doesn't work from user's point of view. You get 0 points.
    (I'm not violating NDA, am I? I didn't sign any papers yet anyway)
    The tasks themselves look like "Fix that thing" or "Install and configure smth", or both, well, that's what I heard. This is gonna be somewhat stressfull for a guy who dealt only with point and click exams (me).
    2018:
    • RHCE
  • BodanelBodanel Posts: 214Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    @masq
    I've also done the labs from Vugts book but I hate the order in which the topics are presented and the exercise helped me. For example, having several years in production now for me it make much more sense to setup networking - chapter 30- before anything else. I know, this is from RHCE section of the book but there are examples like this in the RHCSA section also.
    Like I've said, lots of different labs.
  • masqmasq Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Bodanel wrote: »
    @masq
    I've also done the labs from Vugts book but I hate the order in which the topics are presented and the exercise helped me. For example, having several years in production now for me it make much more sense to setup networking - chapter 30- before anything else.
    I agree entirely.
    Guess my best bet is to skip through Sander's book, and build my own track for studies, as it really feels unstructured.
    Thank you for that info!
    2018:
    • RHCE
  • asummersasummers Posts: 157Member
    masq wrote: »
    2Bodanel
    I wonder why didn't you follow Sander's guide for labbing, but built your own lab? From what I've read on the web, his book is considered one of the best, or at least - sufficient for passing rhcsa exam. Is something wrong with his labs or what?
    PS. Thanks for your response! I really like reading about someone's experience in passing exams and individual preparation methology, so to say.


    Hey there. Thanks for sharing this, already checked it ; ) .


    A couple of things I forgot to mention -
    - It looks like the rhcsa exam runs on RHEL v.7.1 starting from June 2016 , it has some minor changes comparing to v7.0 , and not a single book cover these changes. Well.. Difficulties awaiting I guess.. These changes touch NFS, LDAP, and some other stuff.. gonna check it myself later.

    - It's been said for thousand times that redhat exams are practical, and you gotta be fast on the exam, but not only that - The tasks given to a candidate are somewhat "vague", they are like being given from a real non-technical person, and must be treated from user's perspective.. For example you deployed apache, but forgot to open 80th port via iptables, - that's it, thing doesn't work from user's point of view. You get 0 points.
    (I'm not violating NDA, am I? I didn't sign any papers yet anyway)
    The tasks themselves look like "Fix that thing" or "Install and configure smth", or both, well, that's what I heard. This is gonna be somewhat stressfull for a guy who dealt only with point and click exams (me).


    You can't break NDA with your opinions. The NDA relates to the exam, contents, experience etc.

    But you are right, you must fulfill the request as you see fit. So if the question was "install a web server, create an html index page" that means you must ensure it runs at startup and accessible over the network too. If you didnt open the firewall then how would anyone know you did the other tasks?

    The questions should make clear what they want you to do but they will not tell how do to do it. E.g. they are not going to say install httpd using yum and enable service to autostart via systemctl - theres no point in doing the exam.

    Don't worry too much about minor versions - you can always email redhat training and ask them the version used - but you should be ok.

    And one final thing, and this may sound obvious. Do what you have been asked and no more. I have seen crazy suggestions on this forum about changing networking, restarting this and that, all before you perform a single task.

    Only thing I would suggest is make a backup, and this is for life, not just exam, make a backup before you change the file and put this backup in a different location e.g. /root/file-backups or similar.
  • VeritiesVerities Posts: 1,162Member
    Asummers makes a good point. Anytime you are going to touch a config file, make sure to create a backup of it first. However, I don't remember having to actually modify any config files for RHCSA. Most of the tools Red Hat included with the OS do the config file changes for you (i.e. hostnamectl, authconfigtui,nmtui).

    I studied off and on for almost a year, then buckled down for 2 months straight studying between 2 to 6 hours a day. That was with about 8 months of experience as a Linux admin at the time. If you are already familiar with Linux like you said, the concepts should come to you much faster.

    Biggest tip I can offer is to get the objectives for the exam and look over them, then eliminate the ones you already know. This will allow you to focus on the more complex tasks that you may not be familiar with. Also, you have to be confident that your changes to the machine will persist through a reboot, so make sure you test a reboot at some point to make sure your changes stuck.

    I used Sander Van Vut's videos mostly for the RHCSA exam and did some reading of his book when it was a rough cut. If you can afford a subscription to Safari Books Online, I highly suggest it as you can get all his material on there that comes out to maybe $500 if you bough them all separately. Also, check out certdepot.com - its run by a guy who is very saavy with Linux and his steps for the objectives are very similar to Sander's since they worked on the RHCSA book together.

    Lastly....there is no 1 right way to do a task for the RHCSA or RHCE exam or even in Linux. However, I recommend whatever method you are most comfortable with and what you can use to complete each objective the fastest since the exam is timed.
  • varelgvarelg Posts: 790Banned
    I can see certain doors prying open job- wise with my recently gained RHCSA too.
    @masq: what to expect vs. what it is. This is your first Red Hat exam. I'd suggest taking classroom exam- you don't have to sign up for classes in order to take the classroom exam. Instructor is courteous and professional, you'll get a memory jog or two before the exam, along with the students. And he/she is always there for questions regarding technicalities during the exam. You don't get any of that with kiosk. There are downsides with classroom exams too, it's not the perfect environment.
    You will be sitting in front of a desktop, issuing commands. It is a live system so everything you get on typical RHEL install will be available on your machine.
    According to Sander, filesystem- related tasks weigh heavily on the exam. I don't know if this is true or not, you don't get a breakdown of areas where you were strong or weak in the post- exam message that tells you if you passed or failed. But it's an interesting pointer worth considering, nevertheless.
    Why setting up your own environment when Sander's guide comes with virtual machines already set up- I remember having to invest extra time only to be able to import them as virtual machines (created on VMWare, I use VirtualBox, portable format isn't portable out of the box), there's a typo in the naming of the server in the guide vs. how the author intended it to be named in the setup- make sure you get the errata from rhatcert.com.
    When setting up my own environment, howtos at CertDepot were precious. I also took Linux Academy's course on RHCSA, you get a lot of practice time, they have also a pre- set environment, it's thick on practice but thin on explanations, especially on the matter of joining client to a domain, if I stuck only with their course I would have never get that part.
    Lab a lot but also try to think in references, so if you hit a mental block during the exam and not remember certain part, know how to refresh you memory quickly by looking up the corresponding man page. Man pages are available but you also have 150 minutes to finish the tasks, so the time is limited for an on-the-spot research.
    Your prior Linux experience- it definitely helps but there are tasks to which regular Linux users never get exposed, like joining a domain, mounting remote filesystems, ACLs, SELinux violations and how to cope with them, some aspects of yum and rpm...
    Good luck with your preparations for this exam, it's going to be a hot summer...
    I am posioning the forums.
  • wolfinsheepsclothingwolfinsheepsclothing Posts: 155Member
    Really good information in this thread. I'd like to add, I wouldn't worry so much about the time constraints; as long as you're comfortable with the objectives, you'll finish with enough time to check your work. I would imagine the exams are graded like a unit test; for example, continuing with your httpd example, even if you forget to open the port, you would still get points for installation of the package/having the correct index page (even if it's not reachable outside of the local machine). Because you already have a solid Linux background, I would imagine it wouldn't take you more than a few months to get up to speed (assuming adequate study time of course). Good luck with your studies!
  • masqmasq Posts: 33Member ■■□□□□□□□□
    Bodanel , asummers, Verities , varelg, wolfinsheepsclothing

    Guys, many thanks for your advices and recommendations, no really, I appreciate it a lot.
    It's just amazing how TE community and active members from LPI/RH forum share their experience, success and failures in exam passing, and individual preparation style and tactics (this is how I would call it).
    Just to sum up the overall info from all of you:
    Before the actual exam:
    - Check the official objectives for the exam. From this point - make an individual track for studies starting from the most basic things to advanced, perhaps paying more attention and spending more time to unfamiliar objectives, or even skip the ones that seem easy.
    - Build the lab, and do all exercises from the books until you're a ninja. One should be comfortable enough performing all the tasks in different ways without googling or using some other references - that would mean one is ready for the exam, I guess.
    During the exam:
    - Read the tasks carefully.
    - Backup your config-files.
    - Do what you're asked to do, the fastest way you can, and nothing more than that. But one should keep in mind user's perspective of each particular task.
    - Make sure your changes\installations
    persist through a reboot.

    Well, I guess this is it. Gonna check this thread regularly, and re-read your advices.
    Also, I'll post the minor exam changes here as soon as I get this info from RH.
    For now, I'll just start reading Sander's guide, just to get more familiar with RHEL and CentOS, as this is my main goal, after all.

    Many thanks again, everyone!
    Hoping to join your RedHat "club" soon ;)







    2018:
    • RHCE
  • asummersasummers Posts: 157Member
    One final one ... My final step is I create a checklist of tasks that might be asked and I aim to complete them in half the time allocated in exam.

    I time myself properly, no breaks to simulate exam conditions.
  • BodanelBodanel Posts: 214Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    One thing. On the exam you have plenty of time, DONT RUSH. I took it slowly and still got time for 2 checks.
  • VeritiesVerities Posts: 1,162Member
    Good luck Masq. If you have any more questions or need advice, we will be here.
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