In this post I’m going to review the XK0-002: Linux + PrepKit from uCertify. Since I haven’t taken the real exam yet – but I intend to in the following months – I’ve evaluated the kit from the candidate’s perspective. Hopefully, in May or June, I will post a follow up and evaluate the kit’s performance from the point of view of a CompTIA Linux + certified engineer 😉
Also note that the kit is not meant to teach you how to use Linux or to prepare you for a sysadmin job. Its stated goal is to prepare you for the CompTIA Exam, nothing more, nothing less. If you want to learn the inner workings of *nix operating systems, this kit isn’t for you, but if you already know how to use linux and want to get the ComTIA certification to prove your skills then using this kit to get acquainted with the exam’s requirements and methodology is a fairly good idea.
uCertify is a company founded in 1997 and it specialises in creating preparation kits for major IT certification. Now their offer includes preparation kits for Microsoft, Oracle, Cisco, CompTIA, Adobe, Sun Java and many more IT certifications available out there. Check out their site for more info. The kit I’m reviewing in this post is written to aid candidates in taking the CompTIA’s Linux+ exam. This vendor-neutral certification specifically designed to certify technical entry-level skills for Linux system administrators.
Download and install
In order to install the preparation kit on you machine, you have to download a small Windows executable file. You punch in the licence key and you’re done. If you’re using Windows that is. If you’re using a different OS, like I am, things get more complicated. The prepkit doesn’t work well with wine. By “not well” I mean “not at all”. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I just couldn’t get it to work. The application kept freezing and I kept xkill-ing it. But, fortunately enough I still have a Windows OS installed on a virtual machine under qemu on my laptop and, as I said before, installing the kit on Windows is a piece of cake.
The kit is really easy to use, with a well designed user interface and good typography so the texts can be easily read by glasses wearing nerds like myself. I don’t think the average user will have any difficulties using it, further more a candidate for a serious IT certification.
It doesn’t have any useless “Linux was written by a Finnish student named Linus Torvalds” yatta-yatta. It goes straight to the point and focuses on the exam’s objectives right from the start. When you start the application, this is what you find:
The kit has one 15 questions diagnostic test, 8 (A to H) 42 questions tests and one final test. It also provides several ways to combine the questions into new tests, according to one’s own timetable and preferences. Each test can be taken either in “Test mode” or “Learning mode”. Test Mode simulates an actual exam, you just go through all the questions and get the results and feedback at the end of the test, while in learning mode, you get the feedback on each question’s page, after you’ve punched in the answer. I took the first exam myself and…I’ve failed it! Badly…
It seems that I still have a lot to learn before taking the real life exam. And I use Ubuntu daily on my laptop, so the test is pretty hardcore and well focused on the exam objectives from CompTIA. I could find a single question mismatched from this goal. Everything is sysadmin related, nothing about wine, cedega, deCSS or other linux topics that aren’t mentioned in the objectives. And with which I’m very familiar with.
The kit also includes exam objectives, flash cards, study notes, articles and study tips. The flash cards are an imaginative feature, they are meant to help you remember notions by typing them over and over again, until they get in your head. Another fun feature: sometimes, in the tests, you must identify ports or computer parts by clicking on them with the mouse:
Is it worth the money?
With a sale price tag of 74.98 US dollars (about 60 euros), the cost of the preparation kit is about one third of the exam fee and about the same as a practice book from CompTIA. But the kit offers so much more than just a simple book. When I prepare for an exam, I find it very usefully to have some form of auto evaluation as close as possible to the exam.
When I was preparing for the Zend Certified Engineer exam, I’ve paid $30 on the pdf version of the Zend PHP 5 Certification Study Guide and $22 for 10 mock up exams. Zend’s preparation exams didn’t offer any useful feedback, in the way that the uCertify kit does. The kit offers detailed and useful feedback on each question (Zend only offers a hint like “You should improve your knowledge of XML parsers”). The feedback page looks something like this:
Just for the record, I know what the file command does. I’ve just clicked on the wrong answer to make a point.
If you’re interested in this kit, and want to see for yourself what uCertify offers, check out the free trial.
I’ll post a follow up after I’ll take the exam.