OpenBSD Journal

BSD Certification Press Release

Contributed by grey on from the certifiable dept.

Thanks to George, Brad and others for writing in with the following:

BSD Certification Group Takes Initiative

Today, the BSD Certification Group officially announces their website and group focused in the creation of BSD certification. The public website is at

A number of BSD developers, systems administrators and advocates have come together to begin the first steps in the creation of a standard BSD certification. Today marks the official launch of their public website at

The BSDs, including FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD and DragonflyBSD, are mature operating systems based on the original Unix developed at University of Berkeley, California. BSD powers global Internet service provider infrastructures, and BSD userland applications are familiar to those running Apple's OS X operating system. BSD tools like OpenSSH are used to securely access remote systems, and many TCP/IP stacks are derived from BSD.

"While some may feel that a BSD certification would just replicate the problems that other certifications have created, namely lack of experience masked by a piece of paper, the committee is convinced that with the proper preparation and testing criteria, a tiered BSD certification process can demonstrate real-world proficiency as well as provide a goal for those just beginning their systems and network administration career," said Dru Lavigne, networking and Unix instructor and the chair for the group.

The BSD Certification Group looks to bring together the BSD projects, important vendors, educational institutions and beyond to work to make this project a success.

The group invites all who are interested to subscribe to the public BSD certification mailing list at

(Comments are closed)

  1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    COOL! Some people don't agree with this, but I think it's great, especially for making *BSD more known to the 'corporate/management' mentality... Or something to this effect... ;-)

    1. By Sean Brown ( on

      Personally I've found certifications and their exams to be helpful if you really are interested in learning the topic. It gives a very specific set of requirements to meet and then tests you on those, its a good starting point. If you really were interested in understanding, you should be left with more questions of the 'what if...?' type instead of a feeling that you 'know' the topic.

  2. By Anthony Roberts ( on


    1. By George ( george at nycbug dot org on

      What do you mean $?

      I would recommend you reread the initial post. . . we are really at the initial stages. We don't consider this a month-long effort where we throw together 100 questions and stamp in approval or not. We are looking to create something comprehensive, with the support of each of the projects at some level, that is not a cake-walk for anyone, particularly for those who haven't worked on the BSDs in production environments.

      So to talk about fees right now would be premature.

      Please check out the www site at for more information. . . I think the site provides the overview you may be looking for.

      1. By jb ( on

        He/she may be wondering if this certification is going to be another racket.

      2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        I think he was using shorthand for "cost?" ie how much wil this be? Is it jsut one more thing?

  3. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    No offense, but IT certifications are just a scam to make money. They might help when you are being hired by someone with no technical skills or knowledge, but anyone who knows what BSD is will also know people with certs tend to be less capable than people without.

    1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      I guess you missed the 4th paragraph.

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        No, I just don't think a vague hand-waving is very convincing. They have not made any attempt to explain how their cert will magically avoid the worthless cert problem every other cert has. "Our cert will be different from every other tech cert that exists, or has ever existed, but we don't know how we'll accomplish this". Damn, I'm sold!

        1. By George ( george at nycbug dot org on

          >No, I just don't think a vague hand-waving is very convincing. They have >not made any attempt to explain how their cert will magically avoid the >worthless cert problem every other cert has. "Our cert will be different >from every other tech cert that exists, or has ever existed, but we don't >know how we'll accomplish this". Damn, I'm sold!

          Somebody is in a bitter mood today.

          1. "Vague hand-waving" seems a bit over the top, don't you think? It's a *press release*.

          2. We are not looking for magic. Hell, I don't even believe in Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny myself. Just don't tell my mother.

          3. As was made clear from the press release, we are not impressed with the majority of other certifications, and we do not put any on a throne. I personally do think that there's useful and positive lessons from a number of certs, such as the SANS certs, Cisco, etc.

          4. We are not interested in selling this to anyone. We are convinced that a cert, created with the oversight and backing of key players in each of the projects, could be useful to dealing with the *perception* that the BSDs are not commercially supported.

          Anyway, it seems like you're having a bad day, but frankly, that's nothing a discussion about a BSD Certification is going to change.

          1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

            No, I'm just honest and realistic. If you don't like it you are free to dismiss it with any random excuses you like, I'm bitter, I had a bad day, I failed to get some cert, it doesn't matter. The fact is, you are trying to generate press about something that you either haven't planned out yet, much less started implimenting, or are keeping a secret for some reason. This is an openbsd website, some of us have gotten used to the idea of "shutup and hack" and expect people to have something to show before they make press releases. You have a website to show, and nothing on it back up your unsubstantiated claim that your cert will be hard to get and prove people are competant, when in fact all certs just prove people know how to study for a test.

            1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

              Now you're talking about two things here in my opinion:

              First, the general attitude towards certs. Whether they're easy to get for money, whether they say anything about real world knowledge and abilities.

              Second, about the BSDcert idea/project in particular and their lack (at least for now) of more concrete information about their idea.

            2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

              Look, I hate exams even though I never failed one in 18+ years of school/university in 3 different languages and countries, and was usually in the top few.

              I didn't finish my degree because I didn't really care, I prefered to study on my own.

              When I worked in finance, I refused to turn up for my market-making cert (easily worth a $10k/month salary, not counting annual bonuses), because I didn't feel the need to be certified for something that I was already doing for several years.

              I've refused to do MCSE's at least 3 times, even though I probably have the knowledge, and would have had it paid.

              When Linux was the buzzword, I chose Openbsd. Because it was technically better, and the ideas behind it were sound.

              Recently, on a bad day, I even signed up for CS at the age of 35 (with 20+ years of computing behind me), hoping to fill the gaps in my knowledge, but dropped out once more because the curriculum did not in any sense fit my interests/needs, any more than it did 15 years ago, when I opted for humanities instead.

              However, I find this project interesting and have signed up for the lists. Why? Because it's a community effort. And HR drones are not going to disappear overnight.

              You don't like it, fine. But at least let them attempt their thing without slagging them so vehemently beforehand.

              They're actively looking for input, which imho merits a broad press release.

    2. By Anonymous Bastard ( on

      It's been my experience that the majority of people who feel this way:
      a. have attempted certs and failed
      b. dont have the balls to even try
      c. are not motivated enough to try

      given that this seems to be a community/volunteer driven effort (as opposed to a corporate effort), it would be my guess that there will be little profit to those involved. that's what seperates us from the m$ admins, or so i thought. we do this b/c we like it, sometimes we make a living doing it and sometimes we dont. in the end it seldom feels like work though.

      1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        Some people who feel this way are people who wasted money getting stupid certs just because dumbasses in HR require them since they don't know how to tell if someone is competant or not. Encouraging companies to have idiots with no clue about technology hiring tech people isn't something we should be doing, and that's exactly what certifications do. Its stupid having to spend $900 taking stupid tests that prove nothing just so you can put "MCSE" beside your name, because if you don't your resume will get tossed without being looked at.

        1. By Tom ( on

          Same feeling here. I had to get an A+ just to meet the minimum requirements for most helpdesk jobs in my area so I could get out of customer service hell. (Forget the fact that I already did helpdesk work before.) I learned a few things but some of the A+ stuff is just retarded and doesn't make sense in real life.

          That all said... I think I've finally landed my first admin job and without the help of anything but showing a manager I knew what I was talking about when he asked me questions. :)

          1. By Anonymous Bastard ( on

            yep, certs can also help w/ resumes - that shouldn't be news to most people. HR people are given a list of 'keywords', they don't know what they mean, only to weed out resumes w/o so many of the keywords. If people are that uptight about certs getting a bad name, do something about instead of bitching. get a cert and prove that you not only know the shit but can take a test on it as well. and stop it with this childish "when will i ever use this in real life" mentality. shut up or put up.

            for the record, i am cisco certified (ccnp/ccdp) just so you know where i am coming from. i get them for all of the obvious reasons: career advancement, pay raises, and last but not certainly not least, to actually learn something I didn't know before.

            1. By Tom ( on

              More so my last post was over the frustration of dealing with IS people who really shouldn't be in IS but the alphabet soup on their resume keeps them there. Nothing is more annoying then having to explain to IS people why they need to test our latest software release before going into production with it. My company doesn't provide just a dinky little app, our stuff provides the bulk of a hospital's IT infrastructure. There are a lot of people who can pass technical tests with little or no common sense. Having to compete with those people and needing to spend time to get as much alphabet soup on my resume was pretty annoying. That said, I'll still be going for a CCNA even though I don't need it any time soon now. (Different group which I don't want to work for.) Now I can concentrate on the certs in areas that I really want to learn.

              1. By Bert ( on

                yeah, i've dealt with idiots in my programming career (one man was able to bring down a production database because he was trying to prove that his code would work right, right away; it took two days to clean up that mess). But I've dealt with idiots in other job situations, who've caused problems that took days to recover from. Hell, where I work now, there was a big problem because someone didn't check a list of names, and it's taken better than a week to undo the damage from that.

                And you talk about an alphabet soup after the name, you've got MS, MA, MBA, PhD, etc. This is the same gripe that many professionals have for other professionals, regardless of the profession.

                1. By Tom ( on

                  You mean... It never gets better!?!

                  Seriously though, it usually takes somebody older to knock some sense into me every once and a while. Thanks. ;)

            2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

              Being competant and having a cert doesn't do something about the problem though, it just encourages the problem. Dumb HR guy will think I am good *because* of my certs, and he was such a genious for hiring me because of the letters after my name. When in fact I learned nothing from taking some random stupid tests, I am good at what I do because of experience, not because of certs.

      2. By jb ( on

        d. have enought of a backbone not to fall in that trap, especially
        if it's expensive like sht.

        I suspect that everybody around value education and knowledge, and
        reckon they can know more tomorow because they're now reading some
        random doc or manual page, or because they'll be working around some
        problem in two minutes.

        Also, capturing the knowledge of folks in an examination simply doesn't
        work, unless they know it all or are totally dumb. That's one of the
        reasons you have continual control in schools and universities, at least
        where I leave. You can't get away with studying, but surely you can get
        away with fixed punctual exams.

        I believe that I don't need a certification, but give me another
        sysadmin and he/she'll tell if I can work for her (or not), if only
        because I can put some "huh, dunno, need to read the man page" at the
        proper places in the conversation.

        Long story short: you can't evaluate someone with an exam and see if she
        gets the big picture or the detail, according to the job needed, even
        if it lasts a couple of days, knowledge is too fuzzy for that.

        But then again, HR drones don't understand fuzzy, they need stamps and
        forms. It's a shame more than an honor to give up and be bullied, or
        to organize the bullying, for that matter (especially if you don't make
        money out of it! You're crazy or what?)

        The folks that are organizing this BSD thingy seem decent chaps, maybe
        they could think again ?

        1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

          "Long story short: you can't evaluate someone with an exam and see if she gets the big picture or the detail, according to the job needed, even if it lasts a couple of days, knowledge is too fuzzy for that." I used to feel the same way about certs, I guess i knew too many MCSE's at the time. In fact I knew a programmer who told me they actually threw out resumes of those with MCSE certs. I had the opportunity to take a test for a certification in another unix like os and thought I'd give it a try even if the cert turned out to be just another decoration for the bathroom. :) I was completely surprised by the testing methodology and definitely felt like it was a good test. Each test taker was given a machine with a blank hard drive and some install media. I was also given a list of tasks to accomplish in the hour or two I had. I could use any resources on the disks I wanted which included all the man pages and the official documentation for the OS. Sure any intelligent computer person could read through the manuals and figure out how to do everything but to be able to do it in the time alotted for the test just wouldn't be possible unless you were familiar with the OS. this didn't mean knowing any specific details like you might need for a multiple choice test but you definitely needed to know which man pages to read. If the test is put together well it can definitely test a usable bit of knowledge about an OS.

          1. By Anonymous Coward ( on

            As you might notice from my submission above, the test I spoke of did not cover using HTML formatting.

          2. By Jim B. ( on

            We've had discussions about just this type of test. I personally think it has significant value- you must perform, not just know.

            One challenge to this is figuring out how this would work globally. Sure, I can set something up at the local Sylvan Center, but that's not available in (__insert non-US country here___). It's very important that this effort achieve legitimacy all over the world, not just the US.

            Yes, Xen, qemu, VMWare and other options have been mentioned. Nothing concrete yet. Ideas, options, and solutions are welcome on the bsdcert email list.

    3. By Anonymous Coward ( on

      Right you are.. Let's do away with university and high school while we're at it.

      1. By Jim ( on

        High school and college are not an appropriate comparison... high school and college give you a general set of knowledge that is applicable to many situations. Certifications (if they are of any benefit at all) give you a very specific set of knowledge, usually relevant to only one release of one product.

      2. By Anonymous Coward ( on

        High school diplomas do not claim to prove that you are competant at anything in particular, just that you hung around for a few years and didn't skip so many classes that they failed you. That's not really comparable to a tech cert that tries to claim people who have the cert are more skilled and more capable than people who don't. University degrees on the other hand do make similar claims as tech certs. The difference is they involve multiple years of learning, and more deep and varied subjects than just "how to use product x version y". And although I do think university degrees actually mean something, I still don't think that any resume not listing a CS degree should be tossed out unread.

    4. By tedu ( on

      well, i guess the solution for you is to not get certified.

  4. By Anonymous Bastard ( on

    I'm just curious as to how this group chooses which *BSD's to include in their certification(s). On the website, they have logos/links for Free/Net/Open/DragonFly BSD. Is this to be an indication of which distro's will be specifically covered in the certs, and if so, how do they decide which ones to include or exclude?
    I know some people won't like me saying this, but I didn't realize DragonFly had a large enough user base to be included in something like this already.
    On the positive side, I do think this is a great ideal, that is, to have a *BSD certification - as long as the quality and difficulty maintained is at least several times that of the Mc$e. I am also glad to see it's not a FreeBSD or NetBSD etc certification, but rather an umbrella *BSD cert. In that respect this group seems to have learned a few things from the history of *nix. No more civil wars please.
    so now for (major) *nix certs we have:
    1. solaris - system, network, security
    2. Redhat
    3. gnu/linux
    4. BSD - woohoo!
    any others *worth* mentioning?

    1. By Jim B. ( on

      The reason for DFly is that there is considerable talent in the group. Matt Dillon (no flames here please) has significant code-fu. And even though it is still an infant (in BSD years), the project shows promise. Are there a lot of DFly users? Probably not. At least not yet. But the project has enough traction that there well may be in the future.

      The idea is that we wanted to be be inclusive of the major BSD projects. That said, we had to draw the line somewhere or everybody who can cut a BSD ISO would want in. It's going to be hard enough preparing materials to cover the major projects. Other projects may be added in the future after the first certifications are out the door. That remains to be seen.

      One other note- there is considerable discussion on the bsdcert mailing list about how the certification(s) should be structured, what they should include, testing, lab exams and so forth. If you feel the BSD certifcation should be a heavyweight, join the list and get involved. There will plenty of work to go around.

      1. By Anonymous Bastard ( on

        When it comes to true *nix admin skills, i'm probably just a novice by most standards... that said, i will probably pick up the gauntlet and join the mailing list, if for no other reason than to be knowledgeable about it (and occasionally i may toss in my 2 cents worth)....

      2. By Chas ( on

        ...which to be called the 3HO-002 exam (I passed the old version). See their web page.

        This exam is (or used to be) cut into three areas of focus: a) general unix, b) HP-UX sysadmin, c) networking.

        You could probably combine a very intensive part (a) with a light, platform-independent part (b), then split part (c) off into a separate (bsd-oriented) exam.

        There really isn't a good, general unix certification, and I think that there is a market for it. Heavy, heavy focus on scripting in the members of the Bourne family, awk, regex (no pcre), vi (manditory for cross-platform admins), device files, POSIX syscalls and shell utilities to control them (i.e. ipcrm), general filesystem (perms, redirects, fifo, etc.), etc. Maybe what is platform-independent is too simple, but people who know the lineage and capabilities of unix cli tools are rare. A cert would help identify them.

        My favorite question would probably be "Which member of the Bourne family of shells does not implement 'print'? a) ksh88 b) zsh c) bash d) pdksh?"

        Summary: I don't think that the BSD intro exam should focus on BSD.

    2. By Anonymous Coward ( on


  5. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Will any of this money (for those who will or would certify) go back to the various BSD's?

    1. By George ( george at nycbug dot org on

      Will any of this money (for those who will or would certify) go back to the various BSD's?

      Good question.

      We haven't worked out any of the financing issues at this point, AC. It would of course be important to us to keep the cost of the certification as inexpensive, and give anything we can to the BSD projects.

      It seems common that one of the larger hurdles to attaining certifications is the cost of test-taking and training, which is something we would be more than happy to avoid.

      We are really still at the point of determining the structure of the certification. We have some sponsors and endorsers lined up, but haven't even begun to ask for financial backing.

      It would seem that the biggest financial costs are going to be related to test centers, testing applications and testing materials.

  6. By Boris ( on

    BSD certainly will live longer without accreditation of any form. BSD is still pure. don't bring your mud in.

    FAQ page:
    "the ability for employers and employee candidates to gauge proficiency on the BSD platform."

    Somebody who needs certification to help gauge proficiency should not be hiring any staff.

    "We also believe that a certification process can begin to address the lack of paid support for BSD systems, allowing BSD to integrate more fully into the marketplace."

    Speak for yourself, there are a lot of good paid support for BSD, and there has been for decades. you're lowering the existing market.

    Nobody has certified you to certify others. BSD and certification are not of the same world, and are better not mixed up. spend time coding rather than certifying people.

    If you're capable of certifying people, you should code. not waste your skills on certifalsification.

    If you want to help others learning the BSD way, learn it very well then teach it in universities and schools first. there are plenty students waiting.

    1. By Shawn ( on

      "Somebody who needs certification to help gauge proficiency should not be hiring any staff."

      Maybe, but it doesn't change the fact that there is a lot of people in the business world in this position. Sure some of them should outsource the hiring to a professional firm that can better guage the technical abilities of the applicants but in a lot of cases thats not financially possible.

      "Nobody has certified you to certify others. BSD and certification are not of the same world, and are better not mixed up. spend time coding rather than certifying people."

      The market will ultimately certify them based on the results of people with this certification.

      "If you're capable of certifying people, you should code. not waste your skills on certifalsification."

      Not everyone is a coder, nor is that the only needed task in a sucessful operating system. To think otherwise is just foolish and ignorant.

  7. By Anonymous Coward ( on

    Where is Puffy, the mascot of OpenBSD?

  8. By evild ( on

    let me first start by saying i have 5 certs, and that i am an avid openbsd/freebsd user.

    a thing that many people here are missing, is that the knowledge they have in most cases took years and years to accumilate. for an experienced admin trying to go from one platform to another it may be useful to go the cert route. its more structured, and its knowledge hand picked by experts. its not the end all be all, but its definately useful.

    oh, and please lets stop the straw man attacks ok? why does everyone use MCSEs as an example instead of CCIE/RHCE? even then, an MCSE may not prove that one is a good network engineer, but making a bsd cert several times harder than an MCSE is tarded. several times more useful is good. ive seen people here say getting an MCSE is easy, its not. i wonder how many people here have an MCSE, i know i wouldnt unless it guaranteed me a pay raise at the time. one positive side-effect was that when recommending non-microsoft stuff to clients i could always play the MCSE card :).


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