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Review Of Red Hat Certified System Admin Certification Exam

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Survey of main topics covered in Red Hat System Admin Certification Exam

By Editorial Team on 2018-11-15

Red Hat Company offers a few highly regarded Linux certifications for system admin and engineer professionals. Red Hat is known for its enterprise Linux operating system that is used by millions of cloud service providers and large companies. This article discusses topics that are covered in Red Hat Certified System Admin or RHCSA exam.


As of Nov 2019, Red Hat Company was acquired by IBM. However, they still offer their certification programs. Red Hat certification exams are normally more difficult relative to Linux exams offered by Linux Professional Institute (like exam 101 and 102) or Linux+ by CompTIA. The first Red Hat exam for system Admin professionals is Red Hat Certified System Admin or RHCSA.

The performance-based RHCSA exam (EX200) tests your knowledge and skill in areas of system administration common across a wide range of environments and deployment scenarios. You must be an RHCSA to earn a Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) certification. The skills tested in this exam are the foundation for system administration across all Red Hat products.

RHCSA exam candidates should be able to accomplish the tasks below without assistance. These have been grouped into several categories.


Understand and use essential tools

  • Access a shell prompt and issue commands with correct syntax
  • Use input-output redirection (>, >>, |, 2>, etc.)
  • Use grep and regular expressions to analyze text
  • Access remote systems using ssh
  • Log in and switch users in multiuser targets
  • Archive, compress, unpack, and uncompress files using tar, star, gzip, and bzip2
  • Create and edit text files
  • Create, delete, copy, and move files and directories
  • Create hard and soft links
  • List, set, and change standard ugo/rwx permissions
  • Locate, read, and use system documentation including man, info, and files in /usr/share/doc

Note: Red Hat may use applications during the exam that are not included in Red Hat Enterprise Linux for the purpose of evaluating abilities of candidate to meet this objective.

Operate running systems

  • Boot, reboot, and shut down a system normally
  • Boot systems into different targets manually
  • Interrupt the boot process in order to gain access to a system
  • Identify CPU/memory intensive processes, adjust process priority with renice, and kill processes
  • Locate and interpret system log files and journals
  • Access a virtual console of machine
  • Start and stop virtual machines
  • Start, stop, and check the status of network services
  • Securely transfer files between systems

Configure local storage

  • List, create, delete partitions on MBR and GPT disks
  • Create and remove physical volumes, assign physical volumes to volume groups, and create and delete logical volumes
  • Configure systems to mount file systems at boot by Universally Unique ID (UUID) or label
  • Add new partitions and logical volumes, and swap to a system non-destructively

Create and configure file systems

  • Create, mount, unmount, and use vfat, ext4, and xfs file systems
  • Mount and unmount CIFS and NFS network file systems
  • Extend existing logical volumes
  • Create and configure set-GID directories for collaboration
  • Create and manage Access Control Lists (ACLs)
  • Diagnose and correct file permission problems

Deploy, configure, and maintain systems

  • Configure networking and hostname resolution statically or dynamically
  • Schedule tasks using at and cron
  • Start and stop services and configure services to start automatically at boot
  • Configure systems to boot into a specific target automatically
  • Install Red Hat Enterprise Linux systems as virtual guests
  • Configure systems to launch virtual machines at boot
  • Configure network services to start automatically at boot
  • Configure a system to use time services
  • Install and update software packages from Red Hat Network, a remote repository, or from the local file system
  • Update the kernel package appropriately to ensure a bootable system
  • Modify the system bootloader

Manage users and groups

  • Create, delete, and modify local user accounts
  • Change passwords and adjust password aging for local user accounts
  • Create, delete, and modify local groups and group memberships
  • Configure a system to use an existing authentication service for user and group information

Manage security

  • Configure firewall settings using firewall-config, firewall-cmd, or iptables
  • Configure key-based authentication for SSH
  • Set enforcing and permissive modes for SELinux
  • List and identify SELinux file and process context
  • Restore default file contexts
  • Use boolean settings to modify system SELinux settings
  • Diagnose and address routine SELinux policy violations

By now you have a better understanding of what topics come in a Linux system admin exam. If your goal is to obtain RHCSA or LPI certification, you should start with Linux+ first, then move on to LPI admin certifications (exam 101 and 102), and finally move on to Red Hat system admin certification and RHCE. Also, 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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