My Novell Certified Linux Professional certification indicates that I have a high level of skill in Novell/SUSE Linux systems (which also applies to other Linux systems).

This certification is the initial step on the Novell Linux Certification path.

  • The NCLPNovell Certified Linux Professional is a mid-level certification that indicates a detailed working knowledge of Linux systems. The time commitment required to attain this certification is significant, but a well-motivated person can study on their own for several months and attain this certification without the support of their business.
  • The NCLE9Novell Certified Linux Engineer 9 id s high-level certification that indicates even more detailed working knowledge of Linux systems. It builds on the NCLP, and the time required to attain is similar, once you have the NCLP.


Novell offers several study guides for this exam. See the roadmap for specific training opportunities. Novell’s study guides are excellent, but be prepared for the exam to expand upon the training examples. In other words, the self-study kits do not cover all of material. However, the following should help you to prepare:

  • SUSE Linux Fundamentals – Course 3036
    • This book should be obvious to anyone who has served as a Linux admin. It can be skimmed in about an hour and ignored thereafter.
  • Linux Administration Volumes 1 and 2 – Course 3037
    • Volume one should take about a half a day to read and half a day should be spent on the exercises.
    • Volume two should take about a day to read and a day should be spent on the exercises.
  • SUSE Linux Advanced Administration – Course 3038
    • This book should take about a day to read and a day to do the exercises.
  • Novell Certified Linux Professional Study Guide
    • If this book is read after the previous books, it should take about a day to read and do the exercises. It mostly serves as review.
  • The newsgroup novell.community.certifications.clp is also full of pointers and suggestions.

Study Tips for the NCLP

  • Make a schedule and stick to it.
  • Study even the stuff you’ve done before.
  • Practice the stuff you think you know. The more your practice, the faster you get. The faster you get, the better prepared you are to fix your own mistakes.
  • Know your command line tools, they do not suffer from the latency like the GUI tools to.
  • If you have to use YAST, use it as yast in text mode. Not yast2 as a GUI.
  • The passwords for the user and root accounts are pretty obvious once you think about it.
  • Since bash completion doesn’t work as expected, learn to use rpm -qvi, updatedb, locate, which, whereis, apropos, man -k, whatis to locate what you need.
  • Be very familiar with man, /usr/share/doc/packages,manual,howto
  • As you do the exercises from the books, think about how to test that what you did worked. This is vital in a VMware session, as there are some things that you cannot do to check an installation. Know ldapsearch, dig, smbclient among others.
  • Keep in mind that scripting is listed as a requirement. Be sure that you know how variables work in Unix scripting and be able to read the rc files. While you will not likely need something that complex, knowing those techniques can be very helpful.
  • If you need to test cron, adjust the cron time. Do not adjust the system time.
  • Know how to use netcat and telnet to test network services. Remember that netcat does not have a man page, but it is well documented. -h and /usr/share/doc/packages/netcat are good tools.
  • If you change a service and use rc* to start it, make sure it is set to start on boot too.
  • Remember that some services cache data. Make sure that you are using data that is real.

Test Tips for the NCLP

  • Stay calm.
  • Take notes as you go.
  • Make backup copies of everything so you can fix mistakes.
  • Read the instructions multiple times before you start anything.
  • Look around the system before you start changing things.
  • The test environment is a VMware session running through Java in IE. When I took my test, Java was not installed at first. Installing Java and restarting the machine cost me 20 minutes on the test. Luckilly, this was given back by the proctor. Be sure you test for Java and give the machine a clean reboot before you take the test.
  • IE kept crashing on me during the test. There is no fix to this but to make sure you can get the proctor available quickly.
  • VMWare does not allow you to use the tab keys, and the arrow keys behave oddly in vim. It is wise to learn the movement keys h, j, k, l in vim.
    • Be very careful with the kill command. Some of those processes are needed by VMware.
    • One of the server tabs allows you to see your tasks. There is an option to bring this up in it’s own window. Doing this allows you to not have to click on different VMware tabs, so it is a really good idea to do this.
  • The RHCE test is designed in two modes: build a server and fix a server. In contrast, the CLP is based on the concept that the server is already up and running, and you just have to add functionality to it. It is an interesting challenge, as it presumes that you know what the standard Linux image is for the fictional company, when you do not. Some time should be spent making sure that you know how things actually work.
  • You are expected to configure new services on two different servers, each represented by a tab at the top of your browser. As switching tabs can crash IE, it is best to use konsole and rename the tabs to the tasks that you need to perform and which server they link to. Konsole is recommended as it behaves better in VMware than the gnome tools.