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How to prepare for the SLES 15 Admin certification.

My Background
Since I started at dbi services sa (before 3 Weeks), I was working and preparing for the SUSE Linux Enterprise 15 certification. I had worked with other Linux distributions like CentOS, Ubuntu and Debian on my old employer. With my basic Linux knowledge I was able to administrate Apache and nginx with virtual hosts, SSL Encryption with Let’s Encrypt, installing and configuring MySQL Database, opening/closing ports for services with firewall-cmd, network configuration and other basic requirements for Linux Administrating. Before I started to working at dbi services sa, my goal was to get the Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA®), to get be Linux certificated. If you want proove your skills, you need to be get certificated. With every certification you are filling your backpack, so it’s important for your career. Dbi services sa gave me a lot of time to prepare myself to get the SUSE 15 certification, which is awesome!

Why SUSE? And not RHCSA?
Maybe you will ask me why I’m doing SUSE 15 certification instead of RHCSA. The answer is simple: In our company we have few employees which have the RHSCA already. Our company needs also employees which has the SUSE 15 certification. There are also differences between this two certifications: SUSE is asking you just theoretical multiple choice questions, while RHSCA is a practical exam on a Virtual Machine. This is very important point. In my opinion, practical exam is much more important and meaningful. Why? For example in Linux you can set a static IP Address with nmtui, nmcli or over the GUI. So you have the choice, how you want to configure your Network. RHSCA is just looking the results, if you were able to set the IP Address correctly, you get your points. In reality it is the same: Your manager doesn’t matter which command you use, he/she want’s just that the task is done. Therefore why I recommend you to get the RHSCA instead of SUSE, if your employer not needs an SUSE expert.

My experience with SUSE 15 certification
On my first exam I had 64%, second 65% and third 68% scores. Normally with more than 70% correct answer you will pass the exam and get your certification, I did pass the exam with 68%😁 👍🏻. I have never done an exam front of my Laptop. During the exam you need to share your camera and screen. Before you can start with the exam, you need to show your ID card, the room and under your desk. Your desk need’s to be empty, no gadgets should be there. You know that someone is watching you, but you don’t know who. Maybe you will say that is not important. But you can not feel free and relax during the exam. Chewing gum are also not allowed. As we are humans and not robots, we lose the concentration after ~35-40 Minutes doing the same thing. But if you do something practical, it’s different. You are reading, typing, solving issues. While on theoretical exam you just reading and selecting the correct answer. A glass of Water is not allowed, while Burger and Grill are allowed 😋  Joke, your doing an exam, it’s a normal healthy human understanding. I recommend you minimum 1 liter cold Water. Once you lose your concentration, just drink water and you will be refreshed.

Choose correct time
On the first exams which I answered 64% and 65% correctly, it was 10:00 AM. The third exam I had done at 04:00 PM and answered 68% correctly. I really recommend you to choose the time as well. The Problem doing the exam in the morning are: You are not fit. Your Brain did’t had enough oxygen for doing an exam front of your Laptop. Also don’t do the exam between 12:00 AM and 14:30 PM! After the Lunch (Don’t eat too much) you will be tired 😴  and can’t focus on the questions.

Preparing for the SUSE certification
I had access to SUSE Training Plattform. There were Online Videos for each Objectives to get be introduced to SUSE. If you have never used Linux before, it’s absolutely the correct place to start. But if you before used and administrated Linux systems like me, you already know the basics of the Linux. So you want pass the exam and not lose your valuable time for “boring” Videos. In the SUSE Training Plattform are also “Self Review Quiz” for each Objectives. This is very helpful for preparing the exam. For my daily work with Linux I learned a lot of tricks watching this Videos, but this doesn’t help you to pass the exam. My Hint: Download the PDF slides and start learning by doing. If you don’t understand something, you can ask search engines and you will get very simple answer. The explanation in Video can sometimes be difficult to understand. Therefore I’m warmly recommend you learning by doing.
Understand the grub and grub2 like a pro
I don’t know why SUSE is strongly focusing on GRUB2, in the reality I never used. But you should know how you can customize the boot menu and adding your own menus. You should know where you can find this configuration files in the theoretical. In Practical you can use ls to list the directory or the find command to find any files and use the man pages how to add custom menus.

Think logical
Most of Linux commands are very simple. Mostly there are no dash in commands. There are some tricky and common questions. For example:
“How is the graphical version of YaST started from the command line? (Select one)”
You have five answers to choice:

  • yast
  • yast2
  • The graphical version of YaST cannot be started from the command line
  • YaST2
  • yast-gui

As you can see, this a common question. If you run yast and yast2 command on SUSE Server, you will lunch the graphical version. But the correct answer is yast2. 🤨

Unit File
You should know what’s happening in the background once you run the “systemctl stop apache2” command. Yes it’s stopping the apache, but it’s calling the Unit File. You should know where the Unit files are located and you can modify them. You should know why there are RequiredBy or WantetBy in Unit Files etc.

File Systems
SUSE is coming out of box with btrfs file system. So it’s clearly that you will be asked about btrfs. Understand correctly about subvolumes and mounting.

My hints to pass the exam:

  • Download the PDF and learn it by doing. (Most words which is bold, they will be asked)
  • Check the questions on SUSE Training Platform
  • Understand everything, if you have questions ask google to understand
  • Book the exam in the afternoon
  • Don’t spend a lot of time front of your monitor before the exam.
  • Before the exam, open your windows and meantime go to walk, or just go outside
  • Water: Put cold water on your desk
  • Read the questions correctly
  • Think logical, if you don’t know the answer, set the flag and just continue to the next question

I hope this Blog will help you little bit to get your certification. Don’t give up and improve your skills by learning by doing.

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Furkan Suv
Furkan Suv