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Review Of Linux Professional Institute Certification Exam 101 Topics | Touchstone Words

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Survey of main topics covered in Linux Professional Institute Certification Exam 101

By Editorial Team on 2018-11-15

Linux operating system is used by millions of private and cloud servers. Obtaining a Linux certification from a reputable company such as Red Hat or Linux Professional Institute (LPI) carries lots of weight on a candidate profile. Indeed, Linux is highly regarded by system admin professionals. This article reviews LPI exam 101 that is aimed at system admin professionals.

Unlike CompTIA that only offers Linux+ certification, LPI offers many Linux-based certifications for both system admin and application engineers. The most popular system admin certifications are exam 101 and 102 that can qualify a candidate for many entry to mid-level system admin jobs. This article reviews topics and subtopics that are used in exam 101. In particular, LPI system admin 101 exam is composed of 4 topics: 1- System Architecture, 2- Linux Installation and Package Management, 3- GNU and Unix Commands, and 4- Devices, Linux Filesystems, Filesystem Hierarchy Standard. The following articulates sub-topics for each said topics.

Topic 101: System Architecture

101.1 Determine and configure hardware settings
Candidates should be able to determine and configure fundamental system hardware.

Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Enable and disable integrated peripherals.
  • Differentiate between the various types of mass storage devices.
  • Determine hardware resources for devices.
  • Tools and utilities to list various hardware information (e.g. lsusb, lspci, etc.).
  • Tools and utilities to manipulate USB devices.
  • Conceptual understanding of sysfs, udev and dbus.

101.2 Boot the system

Candidates should be able to guide the system through the booting process.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Provide common commands to the boot loader and options to the kernel at boot time.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the boot sequence from BIOS/UEFI to boot completion.
  • Understanding of SysVinit and systemd.
  • Awareness of Upstart.
  • Check boot events in the log files.

101.3 Change runlevels / boot targets and shutdown or reboot system

Candidates should be able to manage the SysVinit runlevel or systemd boot target of the system. This objective includes changing to single user mode, shutdown or rebooting the system. Candidates should be able to alert users before switching runlevels / boot targets and properly terminate processes. This objective also includes setting the default SysVinit runlevel or systemd boot target. It also includes awareness of Upstart as an alternative to SysVinit or systemd.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Set the default runlevel or boot target.
  • Change between runlevels / boot targets including single user mode.
  • Shutdown and reboot from the command line.
  • Alert users before switching runlevels / boot targets or other major system events.
  • Properly terminate processes.
  • Awareness of acpid.

Topic 102: Linux Installation and Package Management

102.1 Design hard disk layout

Candidates should be able to design a disk partitioning scheme for a Linux system.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Allocate filesystems and swap space to separate partitions or disks.
  • Tailor the design to the intended use of the system.
  • Ensure the /boot partition conforms to the hardware architecture requirements for booting.
  • Knowledge of basic features of LVM.

 102.2 Install a boot manager

Candidates should be able to select, install and configure a boot manager.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Providing alternative boot locations and backup boot options.
  • Install and configure a boot loader such as GRUB Legacy.
  • Perform basic configuration changes for GRUB 2.
  • Interact with the boot loader.

102.3 Manage shared libraries

Candidates should be able to determine the shared libraries that executable programs depend on and install them when necessary.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Identify shared libraries.
  • Identify the typical locations of system libraries.
  • Load shared libraries.

102.4 Use Debian package management

Candidates should be able to perform package management using the Debian package tools.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Install, upgrade and uninstall Debian binary packages.
  • Find packages containing specific files or libraries which may or may not be installed.
  • Obtain package information like version, content, dependencies, package integrity and installation status (whether or not the package is installed).
  • Awareness of apt.

102.5 Use RPM and YUM package management

Candidates should be able to perform package management using RPM, YUM and Zypper.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Install, re-install, upgrade and remove packages using RPM, YUM and Zypper.
  • Obtain information on RPM packages such as version, status, dependencies, integrity and signatures.
  • Determine what files a package provides, as well as find which package a specific file comes from.
  • Awareness of dnf.

102.6 Linux as a virtualization guest

Candidates should understand the implications of virtualization and cloud computing on a Linux guest system.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Understand the general concept of virtual machines and containers.
  • Understand common elements virtual machines in an IaaS cloud, such as computing instances, block storage and networking.
  • Understand unique properties of a Linux system which have to changed when a system is cloned or used as a template.
  • Understand how system images are used to deploy virtual machines, cloud instances and containers.
  • Understand Linux extensions which integrate Linux with a virtualization product.
  • Awareness of cloud-init.

Topic 103: GNU and Unix Commands

103.1 Work on the command line

Candidates should be able to interact with shells and commands using the command line. The objective assumes the Bash shell.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Use single shell commands and one line command sequences to perform basic tasks on the command line.
  • Use and modify the shell environment including defining, referencing and exporting environment variables.
  • Use and edit command history.
  • Invoke commands inside and outside the defined path.

103.2 Process text streams using filters

Candidates should be able to apply filters to text streams.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Send text files and output streams through text utility filters to modify the output using standard UNIX commands found in the GNU textutils package.

103.3 Perform basic file management

Candidates should be able to use the basic Linux commands to manage files and directories.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Copy, move and remove files and directories individually.
  • Copy multiple files and directories recursively.
  • Remove files and directories recursively.
  • Use simple and advanced wildcard specifications in commands.
  • Using find to locate and act on files based on type, size, or time.
  • Usage of tar, cpio and dd.

103.4 Use streams, pipes and redirects

Candidates should be able to redirect streams and connect them in order to efficiently process textual data. Tasks include redirecting standard input, standard output and standard error, piping the output of one command to the input of another command, using the output of one command as arguments to another command and sending output to both stdout and a file.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Redirecting standard input, standard output and standard error.
  • Pipe the output of one command to the input of another command.
  • Use the output of one command as arguments to another command.
  • Send output to both stdout and a file.

103.5 Create, monitor and kill processes

Candidates should be able to perform basic process management.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Run jobs in the foreground and background.
  • Signal a program to continue running after logout.
  • Monitor active processes.
  • Select and sort processes for display.
  • Send signals to processes.

103.6 Modify process execution priorities

Candidates should be able to manage process execution priorities.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Know the default priority of a job that is created.
  • Run a program with higher or lower priority than the default.
  • Change the priority of a running process.

103.7 Search text files using regular expressions

Candidates should be able to manipulate files and text data using regular expressions. This objective includes creating simple regular expressions containing several notational elements as well as understanding the differences between basic and extended regular expressions. It also includes using regular expression tools to perform searches through a filesystem or file content.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Create simple regular expressions containing several notational elements.
  • Understand the differences between basic and extended regular expressions.
  • Understand the concepts of special characters, character classes, quantifiers and anchors.
  • Use regular expression tools to perform searches through a filesystem or file content.
  • Use regular expressions to delete, change and substitute text.

103.8 Basic file editing

Candidates should be able to edit text files using vi. This objective includes vi navigation, vi modes, inserting, editing, deleting, copying and finding text. It also includes awareness of other common editors and setting the default editor.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Navigate a document using vi.
  • Understand and use vi modes.
  • Insert, edit, delete, copy and find text in vi.
  • Awareness of Emacs, nano and vim.
  • Configure the standard editor.

Topic 104: Devices, Linux Filesystems, Filesystem Hierarchy Standard

104.1 Create partitions and filesystems

Candidates should be able to configure disk partitions and then create filesystems on media such as hard disks. This includes the handling of swap partitions.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Manage MBR and GPT partition tables
  • Use various mkfs commands to create various filesystems such as:
    • ext2/ext3/ext4
    • XFS
    • VFAT
    • exFAT
  • Basic feature knowledge of Btrfs, including multi-device filesystems, compression and subvolumes.

104.2 Maintain the integrity of filesystems

Candidates should be able to maintain a standard filesystem, as well as the extra data associated with a journaling filesystem.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Verify the integrity of filesystems.
  • Monitor free space and inodes.
  • Repair simple filesystem problems.

104.3 Control mounting and unmounting of filesystems

Candidates should be able to configure the mounting of a filesystem.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Manually mount and unmount filesystems.
  • Configure filesystem mounting on bootup.
  • Configure user mountable removable filesystems.
  • Use of labels and UUIDs for identifying and mounting file systems.
  • Awareness of systemd mount units.

104.5 Manage file permissions and ownership

Candidates should be able to control file access through the proper use of permissions and ownerships.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Manage access permissions on regular and special files as well as directories.
  • Use access modes such as suid, sgid and the sticky bit to maintain security.
  • Know how to change the file creation mask.
  • Use the group field to grant file access to group members.

104.6 Create and change hard and symbolic links

Candidates should be able to create and manage hard and symbolic links to a file.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Create links.
  • Identify hard and/or soft links.
  • Copying versus linking files.
  • Use links to support system administration tasks.

104.7 Find system files and place files in the correct location

Candidates should be thoroughly familiar with the Filesystem Hierarchy Standard (FHS), including typical file locations and directory classifications.
Key Knowledge Areas:

  • Understand the correct locations of files under the FHS.
  • Find files and commands on a Linux system.
  • Know the location and purpose of important file and directories as defined in the FHS.

Now that you understand topics and subtopics that come in a LPI 101 exam, you need to plan and prepare for its exam. Once you obtain 101 certification, you can move on to 102 exam. Read our article on 102 exam to learn more. After obtaining LPI certifications, then you move on to Red Hat certifications like RHCSA for system admin or RHCE for system engineers. Here is a good article for candidates interested in Linux career.


It is advisable to consult with an IT career counselor to understand what career options best fits your skills. For instance, if you want to be a software engineer, learning HTML and CSS might not fit the bill. Here is an excellent article for learning more on coding and technology career roadmap. Once you know what career path you wish to pursue, you can make a plan on what, when, and how to learn. There are lots of online resources for learning coding and technology in general. For teenagers and high school students, High School Technology Services offers variety of hands-on training. For adults and professionals, Coding Bootcamps and DC Web Makers Companies offer basic to advance project-based programming and technology classes.

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