General FAQ

This FAQ section provides answers to general questions about LPI and our certification program.

What is the purpose of the Linux Professional Institute?


To provide a global framework, industry leadership and services to enhance, develop and further lifelong professional careers in Linux and Open Source technologies.


To become recognized as the #1 organization that provides global leadership, direction and skill standards for those who pursue a career in Linux and Open Source technology.

Why is a certification program needed for Linux?
  • Create industry recognition
  • Provide an organizational path for students
  • Provide an organizational mechanism for training centers
  • Enhance marketing
  • Counter the "no-support" argument
  • Turn students into advocates
  • Provide other means of employment for Linux skilled individuals
  • Recruit new Linux users
  • Assist in the hiring process

The easiest way to gain corporate, governmental, and institutional support and usage of Linux is to ensure that there is a recognized support system in place. This includes professionally accredited support services and an industry recognized skills standard. A widely-recognized Linux certification ensures that IT professionals have a means of demonstrating their Linux skills to potential employers while assuring customers that they are receiving support services from highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals.

Some of the earliest descriptions of the need for a Linux certification program can be found at this story within the Linux Gazette and in this story in the Linux Journal.

What are the benefits of Linux certification?
  • Establishes your competence for well-defined Linux-related functions
  • Easily demonstrates your competence to a potential contractor or employer
  • Certification helps you set out and follow a career path
  • LPI certification is developed from within the Linux community, by your peers, and gives you the opportunity to help develop the certification standards and exams.
What can I do to help?
  • Participate in Exam Development - If you are a writer, a subject matter expert, an editor, a programmer or other kind of Linux specialist, we have a use for you. Please contact Matthew Rice, Director of Product Development for further information..
  • Volunteer at trade show booths- LPI participates in a number of trade shows and IT conferences where we need volunteers to assist us at our booth. Please contact our Operations office, if you are interested in helping out at these events.
  • Help find financial sponsors – ongoing work on our existing certification program and new product development involves a lot of money and we're always seeking people to join our list of sponsors. Visit our sponsorship page to learn more.
  • Write, speak or otherwise help in publicity - we always need more people to write about LPI and speak at conferences and events. Contact Scott Lamberton, Director of Communication if you are interested.
  • Join and participate in our mailing lists - visit our page on getting involved for more information about how to join the lists or go directly to our: Mailing List Information page.

There are many more ways to become involved. Watch the news on our home page and join in our mailing lists to learn more.

I've worked with a lot of "certified" people and haven't been impressed with their competence. What do you say to this type of criticism?

First of all LPI does not believe that certification is a blanket solution for Linux (or any other operating system for that matter). In our considered opinion there is no substitute for experience! That said, people do have to start somewhere and that is the biggest fallacy in the overall perception of certificate programs. There is a profound difference between a certification holder or non-certificationholder with 5 years of Linux experience and a certification holder with 6 months of experience with Linux. Depending on the talents of the individuals in question that difference could be huge. However that is not necessarily a shortfall of the certificate program but rather hiring situations where non-experienced people are expected to perform at the same level as their more experienced colleagues. LPI believes that, as in all things, people's individual talent, skill and work ethic will ultimately determine their success in the IT field. Nevertheless, LPI certifications will provide potential employers with a standard to measure the technical quality and competence of a given candidate. The rest is up to the candidate..

How will the LPI program meet the requirements of existing hiring practices and local regulations (such as U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity laws)?

LPI intends to provide employers a certification standard which will enable them to assess Linux related skill levels of potential employees. To that end, LPI has attracted and assembled a diverse and talented group of people from the world-wide Linux community to help create our certification program. The diversity of this group will help us ensure that our program is free of gender, racial, or cultural bias. In fact, since most of LPI's work is conducted in a virtual setting over the Internet those individuals working on LPI's programs would be hard pressed to identify much more than the gender of a co-worker and given language differences perhaps not that either. Finally, LPI validates its certification program against the psychometric standards required by regulations in the US and other countries as applicable and has been endorsed by a Certification standards organization.

How does LPI compare to other Linux certification programs?

Since there is no central authority controlling the Linux operating system, anyone may start up a Linux certification program and several companies have. As mentioned previously, Red Hat has their own certification program which focuses exclusively on their distribution and Novell has its own Linux certification program which is based on the SUSE Linux distribution.

The most critical difference between LPI and the rest of these programs is that LPI is completely vendor independent and distribution neutral. We work with a huge list of companies which is a virtual who's who of the IT industry and our tests have been developed specifically to test competence with all versions of Linux. Finally, LPI is an independent, non-profit corporation which has evolved out of the Linux community focusing solely on setting certification standards. There are other differences in approach, support and research - if you are interested in more information, feel free to send questions to us. In truth, we welcome all of these programs because, in the end, they will all help grow the pool of Linux support professionals which drives deeper corporate adoption of Linux!

How do I verify my certification status for potential employers?

Candidates may have employers or others independently verify their certification status at our verification page. To do so simply provide your LPI ID and your verification code for each certification which is located within your candidate record within the candidate area.

Can I make bulk purchases for LPI exams?

Organizations wishing to make bulk purchases of LPI exams (to certify a number of employees at one time, for instance) may take advantage of discounted pricing.

To take advantage of this discount you may buy a one-time group of "vouchers" which are accepted at Pearson VUE or Prometric (UPDATE) testing centres (the selection must be of Pearson VUE or Prometric (UPDATE), they cannot be mixed unless at least 50 of each is ordered at one time).

Discounted pricing is dependent on the number of vouchers ordered. For detailed information please contact us directly.

Sales of vouchers are done by LPI's affiliate groups which are organized in many countries. In countries in which no affiliate exists, please contact us directly.

Do you offer exam labs at any events or conferences?

LPI often holds special exam labs at major Linux and IT trade shows and conferences, as well as at special events around the world. At these exam labs, LPI offers its exams at substantially reduced rates, and sometimes free of charge to conference attendees.

Not all LPI exams will necessary be given at any specific event. Please consult information on the event from LPI or event organizers for details. Normally only exams 101 and 201 are offered at these events.

Exams FAQ

How much do LPI exams cost?

Our intention has always been to make certification as affordable as possible. Our exams cost $183 USD for all LPIC level exams. Linux Essentials cost depends on how the test is delivered, please check with your regional affiliate for more info. Prices may vary in some jurisdictions due to currency conversions and exchange rates. Also, exams may be offered at a discounted rate at trade shows and events that LPI or their partners attend.

Why do I have to pay in US$ when taking the test elsewhere?

Our exams are delivered through VUE and Prometric (UPDATE). They may charge their fee per exam in US$ wherever it is taken.

How many tests does it take to be certified?

The answer depends on how many levels of LPI certification you intend to pursue. There are currently 2 exams for the first level LPIC-1 and 2 exams for the second LPIC-2. LPIC-3 only requires one exam–however, it does have a number of specialty designation.

Where can I take the exams?

Our exams are offered through the testing centers of both Pearson VUE and Prometric (UPDATE). Visit their web pages to find a testing center near you. Pearson VUE has over 3700 locations in 145 counties and Prometric (UPDATE) has over 3500 locations in 120 countries, so it should be easy to find a center near you.

How can I offer the exams to my students/clients?

You will need to become either a VUE or a Prometric (UPDATE) testing center. You may also work with a Pearson VUE or Prometric (UPDATE) testing center near you. Local testing centers may offer tests at your facility under certain conditions. However, if there is an LPI exam proctor in your area, the LPI proctor may be able to provide exam labs with paper based tests. Please contact our operations office for more information.

Why aren't you offering exams across the web?

Unfortunately, for web based exams in unproctored situations, you cannot get around the fact that someone else could take the exam for you - or be right with you as you take the exam. At this time, there's really no way to securely offer exams online without a proctor present.

Do all LPI exams use computer-based testing?

In order to deploy our exams globally and to include the largest number of people, LPI delivers its exams using computer-based testing through Pearson VUE and Prometric (UPDATE). Occasionally, we do hold exam labs where paper-and-pencil exams are given (see 2.5 above). We have not ruled out the possibility that future examinations might include some different type of examination method, but that is something that will have to be evaluated at some later date.

How much time does one have to complete the exam?

Under most circumstances candidates are allowed 90 minutes to complete the exam. However, in instances where we are piloting new exam questions for future exam versions candidates will be allowed additional time.

What about the testing obstacles presented to individuals for whom English is not their native tongue?

LPI recognizes this as a demand issue. Some time ago we created Japanese and German translations of our exams and we now have Chinese, French, Portuguese and Spanish versions available for some of our exams. As you might imagine, there are many costs associated with translation and publication of additional exam forms, but if you believe there is sufficient demand for a translation to a specific language please help us to identify this need and we will consider it.

Why do the number of items vary on an exam?

Under our pilot item testing process, English-language exams administered at Prometric (UPDATE) and VUE testing centers are extended to 120 minutes in order to allow a limited number of new pilot questions to be seeded into each exam. While scores on these new items are not included as part of candidate scores, they are used to determine item validity and quality before the items become part of the pool of official, scored exam questions. In order for the evaluation of new questions to be valid and useful, LPI cannot indicate which items on each exam are new items. In addition to this change, the exam forms for LPI exams are changed with greater frequency.

By frequently rotating exams and growing our item pool this way, we enhance the security of our exams (by impeding the abilities of cheaters and brain dumps) and thus help protect the value of LPI's certification for everyone who completes our program.

There are many questions about obscure options for commands. Why are we supposed to know them?

The goal of LPI's tests is to identify competent, experienced people from among unqualified people. Experienced people tend to know more of these options than inexperienced people. For example, an experienced IT professional might answer 70% of these questions correctly versus only 30% by novices. To ensure the validity of these questions during our item pilot testing process we investigate the quality of new pilot (unscored) test items. If nobody answers the item correctly (or if everybody does), the item is useless and is removed. All scored test items on our exams have characteristics that are useful in making the distinction between qualified and unqualified persons.

How are the test scores computed? How many questions do I need to answer correctly to pass? What is the maximum score? How good is my score of ...?

As of April 1, 2009, all exam weights for LPI exams have been standardized to 60 weights. The 301 exam is a current exception with 50 weights.

Regardless of weight totals each exam score is between 200 and 800. A passing score is 500. However, the number of correct questions required to achieve a score of 500 varies with the overall difficulty of the specific exam that is taken.

The number of questions on the exam is also tied to the total of the weights of the objectives on the exam. With a total weight count of 60, the exam will have 60 questions. For each weighting, there will be one question. For example, if an objective has a weight of 4, there will be 4 questions on the exam related to the objective.

How good are your tests?

We feel that our exams are very good, since we apply psychometric principles throughout the exam development and scoring process and have experienced, dedicated Linux community members to assist us as subject matter experts for our projects.

In terms of statistics in item analysis we ran in late 2005 on LPIC-1 and LPIC-2 data, the overall exam reliabilities from all the forms ranged from .88 to .92, which indicates that our exams measure the Linux professional abilities of examinees consistently well. Reliability coefficients range from 0 to 1, and a reliability of .8 or higher is generally expected for high-stakes exams.

Other statistics that we scrutinize for individual items are the point-biserial statistic and a Rasch fit statistic. These statistics indicate if there is some unusual or unexpected response pattern for an item, such as when the failing examinees get an item correct more often than do the passing examinees. We use these statistics to aid our subject matter experts when revising items or in the process of selecting items for a new form. In analysis, all forms generally had no more than 5% of the items with unusual statistics, indicating that the exams and the measurement scaling are behaving as we would expect it should.

Because of these statistics and the excellent psychometric properties of our exams, we feel our exams are tough, but fair.

Aren't hands-on certification tests (like Red Hat's) better than multiple choice tests like LPI is using?

The short answer is: No. For a detailed answer, please see this article.

How long will it take for LPI to send out my certificate once I've passed?

The total time to receive your certificate once you've been notified that you have passed an exam is between 2 to 5 weeks. It will take approximately 1-2 weeks for processing and up to an additional 3 weeks for international mail delivery. Please note, however, that it is critical that you notify LPI if you change mailing addresses during this time.

Do LPI certifications expire?

Yes. Once a person is certified by LPI and receives a certification designation (LPIC-1, LPIC-2, LPIC-3), recertification is recommended after two years from the date of the certification designation to retain a current certification status. However, to RETAIN an ACTIVE certification status, a certification holder is REQUIRED to recertify within 5 years of the certification designation.

Do I have the option of choosing between RPM and DPKG package management on the LPI exams?

No. At one time LPI permitted candidates to choose between answering questions on either RPM or DPKG package management, however this practice was discontinued in 2005. Consultations with both industry and IT professionals at the time indicated that it was necessary for Linux professionals to know both types of package management. Nevertheless we still receive inquiries on this issue--if you find a publication that states that LPI still offers this choice please let us know.

LPI introduced new exams on April 1, 2009. Are my previous exams still valid towards my certification?

Yes. You do not need to rewrite your exams. For example if you have passed 101 in the past you may take the new 102 exam and still obtain your LPIC-1 certification. However, please know that our Board of Directors has passed a policy that you must take both exams of either the LPIC-1 or LPIC-2 certification within 5 years of each other in order for the certificate to be valid.

What's the best way to prepare for an exam?

The process of preparing for LPI exams is really an individual choice. Some people may find that by simply looking at the exam objectives and studying on their own (using man pages, HOWTOs, etc.), they may feel confident they can take the exam. Other people may want to read books, take web-based or computer-based training, or actually go through instructor-led classes offered by a training center.

We believe that the choice should be yours, and that you should not be pressured into taking one particular approach to exam preparation. That is why LPI has committed that it will never designate an "official" set of LPI training materials. We are very proud of our support by many creators of training materials and believe in maximum choice for those seeking to take LPI exams.

Resources on the LPI Website

Some people will find everything they need to prepare right here on the LPI website.

For every exam LPI publishes a set of Objectives. This is a definitive, detailed guide to the subject matter which is to be tested on each exam. People who already have some experience at Linux and are capable of teaching themselves through self-study may find this sufficient to help them prepare. LPI also provides a general task list for LPIC-1, LPIC-2, and LPIC-3.

LPI Training Partnerships

In order to maintain its vendor-independence while encouraging a variety of sources of high-quality exam preparation, LPI has developed a number of training partnerships that help identify supporting groups and companies.