In the modern world of IT, Linux has been growing in popularity and use. This is especially something we are seeing in the cloud, where even Microsoft has admitted that there are more Linux server running in Microsoft Azure than Window servers. You could even speculate that the future of enterprise computing is Linux, since Microsoft is retiring their Windows Server certifications; without any replacements. More than ever, now is the best time for you to either start learning Linux, or really ramp up your Linux skills. The CompTIA Linux+ certification offers a great Linux operating system certification for you to do just that.

Study Tip: When looking for books and courses on the CompTIA Linux+ certification, be sure to look out for content geared towards the latest XK0-004 exam version. This was a major update to the exam, and you’ll want to be certain you’re studying for the latest exam you will be sitting for.

CompTIA Linux+ XK0-004 Exam Objectives

If you are a Linux System Administrator who needs to manage Linux machines (on-prem, in the cloud, or otherwise) then the CompTIA Linux+ certification will certainly help you gain the skills, and prove the expertise needed to do your job. Also, if you are a Developer looking to better know the Linux operating system, then this certification can be useful too; although it may be a bit deeper into Linux than most Developers really need.

No Prerequisites

CompTIA recommends that candidates for the Linux+ certification have a minimum of 9 to 12 months of hands-on experience performing the tasks of configuring, monitoring, and supporting Linux servers. There is also a general recommendations that candidates have previously obtained the A+ or Network+ certifications prior to taking the Network+ certification exam. However, the CompTIA Linux+ certification does not have any prerequisites as these recommendations are not required.

If you’re looking to get certified with Linux, then the CompTIA Linux+ certification may be a great place for you to start; as this certification does not have any required prerequisites to meet prior to taking the exam.

Exam Details

The CompTIA Linux+ exam consists of a mixture of multiple choice, fill-in-the-blank, and performance based questions. The performance based questions are reportedly simulated rather than in a real environment, so you’ll need to be prepared to really know the commands and skills measured by the exam. Also, the exam consists of 90 questions over a 90 minute time limit, so you will need to answer fairly quickly and move on to pass this exam.

Here are some other exam details CompTIA has published:

  • Required exam: XK0-004
  • Number of questions: maximum of 90
  • Type of questions: Performance-based, Multiple choice (single response), Multiple Response, and Fill-in-the-Blank
  • Length of test: 90 minutes
  • Recommended experience: 9 – 12 months of hands-on experience configuring, monitoring, and supporting servers running the Linux OS
  • Passing score: 720 (on a scale of 100-900)
  • Retirement: TBD – usually 3 years after launch

Exam Objective Domains

The CompTIA Linux+ certification exam is pretty well rounded when it comes to how much of the exam targets different sets of features and capabilities of the Linux operating system. You’ll find all the aspects to Linux management that you would expect covered on the exam, but you may also find some things that aren’t as commonly used. This is typical of a certification exam that is solely focused on a single technology, as it is really a great tool to weed out those who are experts with Linux versus those that are not quite so.

Here’s a list of the high level objective areas covered on the CompTIA Linux+ certification exam, along with percentages to represent how much of the exam you should expect covered on that particular objective area:

  • 1.0 Hardware and System Configuration (21%)
  • 2.0 Systems Operation and Maintenance (26%)
  • 3.0 Security (19%)
  • 4.0 Linux Troubleshooting and Diagnostics (20%)
  • 5.0 Automation and Scripting (14%)

You can find the full list of the objective domains and skills tested in the official CompTIA Linux+ Certification Exam Objectives document.

Targeted Linux Distro

The CompTIA Linux+ certification is a vendor neutral certification. This mean it doesn’t really expect you to know a specific Linux distribution. However, Linux does come in MANY different distributions available; such as Red Hat, OpenSUSE, Debian, Ubuntu, CentOS, Fedora, and on and on. You may think that since they all use the Linux Kernel that there would really be a difference (if you’re not that familiar with Linux distros that is). Well, there can be big differences between the various distributions of Linux.

In keeping the CompTIA Linux+ certification vendor neutral, there may seem to be a lot you will need to study and learn in order to pass this exam and earn the certification. Well, this is true and it isn’t. While any variety of Linux experience you have will help you pass; you really only need to focus on two “flavors” of Linux. These are Red Hat RHEL and Debian Linux.

Since Linux distros are based off of other distros, this gives you some flexibility in choosing the distros you use for study. To keep things to free and popular Linux distros, you can look towards CentOS and Ubuntu as two great options to use for studying and preparing for this certification. These will also have the benefit of preparing you for the Linux distros you will be using, or are currently using, on the job.

Study Tip: CentOS is extremely similar to Red Hat RHEL, and Ubuntu is based on Debian Linux. Training by using CentOS and Ubuntu Linux distros will help you prepare for passing the CompTIA Linux+ vendor neutral certification exam.

Study Guides and Courses

There are a few study guides and courses available for the CompTIA Linux+ (XK0-004) certification exam.

Here’s a Pluralsight course plan dedicated to the latest CompTIA Linux+ certification exam:

Here are links to a few of the study guide books that can be purchased on Amazon:

CompTIA Linux+ XK0-004 Certification Exam 1

Latest XK0-004 Exam Update

The XK0-004 version of the CompTIA Linux+ certification exam is the latest edition; released in April 2019. This is a complete rewrite of the exam, so you’ll want to be sure to follow the published exam objectives, and seek out the appropriate study content that targets this version of the exam.

Here’s a video that summarizes this latest CompTIA Linux+ exam update:

Taking CompTIA Exams

CompTIA certification exams can be taken at Pearson VUE testing centers around the world. Alternatively, you can also take them from home or anywhere else using the online / remote proctoring option. Sitting for the CompTIA Linux+ certification exam will need to be done by registering for the exam with Pearson VUE and testing through them.

Wrap Up

The world of IT has been changing in recent years. We may not have ever had “the year of the Linux desktop”, unless you count Microsoft adding it to Windows with the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL)… However, with the growth of the cloud, including the advancement of technologies like Docker, Kubernetes, and containerization, the Linux operating system has been growing in popularity. As a result, the skills to manage Linux as a System Administrator, or even as a Developer, have been growing tremendously too.

Happy studying!

Microsoft MVP

Chris Pietschmann is a Microsoft MVP, HashiCorp Ambassador, and Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) with 20+ years of experience designing and building Cloud & Enterprise systems. He has worked with companies of all sizes from startups to large enterprises. He has a passion for technology and sharing what he learns with others to help enable them to learn faster and be more productive.
HashiCorp Ambassador Microsoft Certified Trainer (MCT) Microsoft Certified: Azure Solutions Architect