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This is the sixth edition of Jang's Red Hat Linux Certification Study Guide, though it has in previous editions been known under slightly different titles due to the change in Red Hat's test titles. With the transition to Red Hat Enterprise 6 and the introduction of Red Hat's RHCSA (Certified System Administrator) test, this book has undergone a significant revision cycle.

First things first - the book comes with a CD that contains a total of four practice exams, two for the RHCSA exam and two for the RHCE exam. It also contains a full copy of the book, in PDF form, broken up in chapters. This is a huge benefit for those that travel with a laptop or for those that wish to study without toting the book along. This CD alone is worth the cost of the book.

Startling to those familiar with previous editions of this book is the edition of coverage of the KVM early into the book (chapter 2). According to Jang, the exam now is conducted through virtualization and as such one must have some familiarity with the environment before taking the test. Being relatively new to virtual operating system environments, this is very helpful material and is applicable to things that happen in the workplace when looking for ways to make the most of the hardware available.

As in previous editions this books has a breakdown of what chapters cover each exam, and this table is covered early. For people studying for the RHCSA exam, this makes it a little easier to narrow down the scope of material. There are 17 chapters of study materials in this book, plus the practice exams: Preparing for the RH Hands-On Certification, Virtual Machines and Automates Installations, Fundamental Command Line Skills, RHCSA-Level Security Options, The Boot Process, Linux Filesystem Administration, Package Management, User Administration, RHCSA-Level System Administration Tasks, A Security Primer, System Services and SELinux, RHCE Administrative Tasks, Electronic Mail Servers, The Apache Web Server, The Samba File Server, More File-Sharing Services, and finally Administrative Services: DNS, FTP, and Logging. Each of these chapters dives deep into the topic matter and offers up self-quiz questions and exercises to help learn and/or master the material. With this coverage passing the exams are within reach.

This is not just an exam preparation manual, though. It is also a superb reference. It is not feasible to remember everything there is to know about Linux and Red Hat in particular, but this book keeps everything close by and accessible - and the PDF version is invaluable just for the searching capabilities alone.

I keep this book close by. Previous versions of this book have helped many people pass the RHCE and the RHCT (superceded by the new RHSCA) exams, and this books is suited for doing the same for many more people. Even if you're not prepping for certification, consider picking up this book as it will be a very valuable reference. By the way - after working with this book almost to the exclusion of other references, I passed the RHCSA on the first try. I have not yet pursued the RHCE but it's on the horizon.

IMPORTANT NOTE: It should be noted that this book does NOT cover configuration of the X Window system. According to Red Hat's published exam objectives for RHEL 6 (as of summer 2011), X configuration is not required for passing the RHCSA or RHCE exams and as such this book does not include X coverage.
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on July 30, 2011
I'm a full time Linux Systems Engineer/Trainer who holds RHCE himself, I've been a big fan of the previous book which was my main tool of preparation (together with experience and other subject specific books) and was eagerly looking forward the updated version for RHEL 6.

Usually when a new product come out the associated book is more a copy/modify/paste of the previous version in this case Michael Jang has done a tremendous job of updating all the content from the previous version while adding new stuff that lot of people were looking for like how to build your own lab, basic configuration for the lab and lot of scenarios for practice.

In the past I've been writing my own scripts/labs and releasing them on my blog but when I took the book in my hand was surprised in a pleasant way! Jang made it again raising the bar of excellence for how a technical book should be written!

If you are preparing for RHCSA/RHCE don't wait anymore this is the one stop for your certification needs.
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on December 19, 2011
I'm a linux Newbie. I've never installed or configured it. I looked at the available books on the subject and chose this one. Even though this book is targeted towards those trying to achieve certifications, I find the practical approach to the book useful.
I like the book because he takes you through, step by step, how to set up machines and perform tasks. There are special margin notes on what things you might focus on if you're taking the exam, and what things you might focus on if you're trying to learn this for a job.

I read some of the negative reviews before purchasing. After having read through the first two chapters and completing the labs, I have these several things to say:
1) If you were confused about what resources you needed to allocate to the VMs, then you did not pay close enough attention. There is no confusion about how many GBs you should allocate to the Host VM you're setting up and the VMs inside. I did view the errata documents the author posted on the publisher's website. I did not find any of the information there "critical" to understanding the book. I'd have gotten by just fine without having to review that PDF document that illustrates the relationships of the VMs. I'd have gotten by without having to review the textual corrections.
2) I have had no confusion about which IPs to assign to which machines. Although, I will admit, due to the effects of an intermittently faulty old switch I was using for my testlab, I did have some confusion on one point. Just know this about the KVM virtual machines and networking. When you set up the virtual network of 192.168.221.x inside the VM host, it is an entirely separate virtualized network. You do not need to have an external router handling gateway, DNS, DHCP, etc for the 192.168.221.x network. For example, the NIC on my physical machine (the KVM host) had an IP of 10.10.10.160 which allowed me to have it on my own home network. However, for VMs inside, it would access my KVM host at 192.168.221.1 because it was also the gateway for the virtual network. I didn't need to have multiple NICs on my physical machine. It was all handled virtually. It all just works like you'd want it to work. To some, this may be obvious. However, I was questioning it because it wasn't working due to squirrely hardware.
3) When reading through the chapters you will encounter Exercises. At first I was under the impression that I should be following along and performing these exercises in my test environment. I since learned that you should hold off until you reach the end of the chapter to do the labs. I recommend reading through the exercises and absorbing the material, but you will get plenty of chance to perform those tasks when you do the labs. What is important is the labs will give you some more specific instructions that you do not encounter during the Exercises. These specific instructions are important for setting up the machines in a way that will be important in later chapters. When you do the labs, you'll basically page back in the book and follow along the exercises, performing those operations on your machines.
4) Some of the reviews expressed frustration over how much the author "skips around". I can sort of see where that is coming from. Take this quote from Chapter 2 in the book, "...you can also connect the local system to the installation source created in Chapter 1, Lab 2 using the techniques described in Chapter 7." For some, that can be a source of logical frustration. What happened is that while you were doing something in Chapter 1 of the book, the author referenced techniques in Chapter 7... something you haven't even read yet. Not only that, now we're in Chapter 2 and he's referencing something in Chapter 1 that referenced something in Chapter 7. Believe it or not, this is not an uncommon occurrence in the book. I think this frustrates some readers. I am here to say that you don't have to let it bother you, just ignore it. So far, not ONCE have I had to go forward to a later chapter to understand the content. Actually, the author is being very helpful here. The "forward reference" to a chapter later in the book, so far for me, has always been an Optional reference that provides more detail about a subject. You don't need to know that "more detail" to accomplish the current task. Those "forward references" are likely more useful for more advanced users that want to delve deeper into a topic the first time it is broached. Newbies, like me, can just ignore for now. So while it can seem to read like the author is skipping all over the darn place... you don't have to. I'm just reading and going forward in line. The content builds on itself in a very logical and helpful way. The only "skipping" I do is when I get to the labs after I've read the chapter, is I skip back to the relevant exercises in the chapter so I can see his examples and follow along. I like it because it exposes me to the material twice. The first time I'm just reading through the exercises and it exposes me to the content in a context with the rest of the material. Then I go back and actually DO IT on my test machines to help solidify what I've learned.

I hope this helps some people that read some of the reviews and are reticent to choose this book. I'm a total newbie and in less than a day I've learned to install the server from CD with many packages, update it, set up FTP and HTTP servers, share out the install files for Red Hat, set up Virtual Machine host, create some machines inside of there by using the install files I shared out from the server.... all this while using an automated Kickstart answer file. This is a very hands on approach that lets you DO this stuff at very minimal cost. I bought a cheap Athlon X2, 64-bit computer with 8 gigs of RAM and a 500 Gig hard drive. I'm able to practice networking machines together, testing access to resources through the firewall (from multiple virtual test subnets), etc, etc all on that one investment of $300 of hardware.

This book was the right choice for me.
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on August 2, 2011
I purchased the previous edition (5th Edition) of Mr. Jangs book to help me with the RHCSA exam at the first of the year, and it was an excellent guide.
Upon seeing this newest edition released based upon RHEL6 I knew I had to have it :)
This new edition is even better than the 5th, and the author has done a tremendous job of organizing the content to make preparing for both the RHCSA and RHCE exams easy.
The first chapter helps you get several RHEL environments setup to be used for practice, and they go nicely with the lab exercises Mr. Jang offers in the book. Then, chapters 2-9 helps new folks prepare for the RHCSA exam. You then move into the last chapters 10 - 17 to prepare for the RHCE exam. This was excellent!
Mr. Jang presents the material in an easy to understand format, and also offers explanations for what you are learning. He also gives great snippets throughout the book of how to use the material in real world situations, which I found to be most helpful.
I highly recommend this book to anyone that is preparing for the RHCSA or RHCE exams. Read it, and then do the exercises and labs that he presents at the end of each chapter. This will prepare you for what to expect on the exam, and you wont be stunned by any unknowns when you take the exam.
The book also makes for a GREAT desk reference. I keep my older 5th edition at my workplace since we are primarily a RHEL5 shop (which that edition was based from), and I keep my new 6 edition of the book at home as my own personal desk reference.
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on November 11, 2011
The author is strong in some areas and noticeably weak in others. The book has been poorly edited and tends to be repetitive.

That is the quick review now the meat:

The first stage of the book for the RHCSA exams is mostly good. It is very unclear regarding LVM, apparently you can create volume groups from a logical volume...? The author seems to have a good grasp of using SELinux but doesn't do a good job of explaining the concepts. For both LVM and SELinux I had to read other sources to understand them.

The second part of the book for the RHCE exams is frustrating. The author doesn't seem to understand the services so much as know how to get them to work. There are lots of places where he simply dumps out lines from a configuration file and glosses over what they are actually doing. He fills the pages with tables of parameters you probably won't need and refers to /usr/share/doc for more detailed explanations of things he didn't explain very well.

If this were a new exam (RHCE) or new book I would not feel so frustrated, but this is edition 6. At this stage the author should have taken the time to master these services well enough to write a clear, practical teaching guide to them.

There are definitely issues with the editing too, especially noticeable in the exercises. I'm guessing there was a rush to be first to market.

On a more positive note 75% of the book is good and accurate, if you can live with doing your own research on several of the more advanced topics this could be the book for you.
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on October 21, 2013
So, I haven't used this for the RHCE yet, but I passed the RHCSA on the first try. Since I can't talk about the RHCSA, let me just talk about my experience with this book.

I had very little prior Linux experience. I read the first 9 chapters (RHCE) sections of this book and got a job as a Jr. Linux Admin. I waited 1 year and then scheduled my exam. I re-read this book, did all the exercises + test questions + two practice exams. I was able to pass well over the required passing score. The practice exams really give you a feel for what type of questions/format to expect.

So, I loved this book and as I study for my RHCE, let me tell you that it lines up well with the Red Hat objectives, just like the RHCSA section did. Mr Jang does a fabulous job of giving you a lot of background and knowledge on a subject, so even if you don't know how to do something, you have a base to build a solution on and know what to look for.

I'd highly recommend this book for studying, and make sure you study for RHCSA objectives that Red Hat provides. If you can do all those fast and well, then you're fine. :)
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on April 12, 2014
First: This book AND Jang's separate Lab book were the only resources I used for preparation. I've read negative reviews in random places that claim various things are missing from this book....so far everything I've heard folks say is missing...is absolutely in this book. The Lab book doesn't add any knowledge value but the addition of labs and exams is very helpful.

These are not difficult exams but I think folks tend to under-prepare and then blame their research materials.

My approach was to skip the reading and go straight to the labs (using the labs answers as a guide). Once I completed all of the labs, then I read the book. Then I did the labs again. Then I read the book again. Then I did the labs again. I stopped the cycle of insanity once I reached a point where I could complete each lab without having to look anything up and could complete a given objective in under 2 minutes. Time can murder you on these tests. My approach was to be fast, super fast.

For RHCSA, I completed all tasks in under 30 minutes. That left me 2 hours to go back through everything with a fine-tooth comb over and over again and come out with a 300 out of 300 score.

For RHCE, I completed all tasks within the first hour leaving me an additional hour for reboots, and SE Linux relabeling....and then a fine-tooth comb back through all of the tasks to make sure all was well. Got a 260 out of 300.....really wish they broke down your score, it'd be great if I know what area I went wrong in.

Anyway, the point of all that was this.... This book (and possibly the associated Lab Book) are ALL that you need. Don't listen to the negative reviews. I keep mentioning the Lab Book but there are a ton a labs that come with this book and they're good labs, the two RHCSA and two RHCE practice exams are great as well. The only problem is this (not actually something negative about this book) - practice makes perfect and after a while, you realize you're just doing the same labs over and over again - so the Lab Book is nice.

DO NOT GOOGLE FOR LABS. There are plenty of resources out there that try to give you command-line examples of what you need to know or even possible lab ideas. I've found a lot of these to be overboard and way above and beyond what you actually need to know - so they will just have you freaking out and over studying topics that don't even apply. Stick to this book. Do the labs over and again. Read CAREFULLY. Practice outside of the labs. If the book mentions something and you don't recall doing a lab for it....just do it then, try it out.
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on July 26, 2011
The book is very good so far (I've read only the RHCSA chapters so far) although the Labs could be a little better explained. The book is not for the beginners with linux and could be a little overwhelming if you have little experience with linux but it provides a very good study guide for the exams.
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on January 15, 2014
First chapter gave me fits as I was not sure what I should be doing in the way of exercises or just observing. Some stuff needs to take place for other chapters to be setup correctly for further exercises. Took a bunch of reading back and fourth to figure things out. Once past first chapter things roll along ok.

Needs flip cards app on disk to help remember terms and procedures for all chapter topics / commands.

Would be nice to point out differences more between CentOS and RedHat for reference as some of us don't have the money for RedHat. Or a link to a blog that gets updated with OS updates.
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on June 25, 2014
I am a sysadmin at an ISP and I keep this book on my desk. I've been running RedHat linux off and on since the '90s, starting with the now-defunct Red Hat linux for the desktop and I still find this book to be a great resource on occasion.

This book is excellent. This is not to say it is without its flaws; I find that some of the lab shell scripts are incorrect and/or poorly coded and I think that the author could explain encrypted partitions a little better (in the case of luks, the examples in the book are flawed, incomplete and misleading). I'd also like to see the selinux section expanded upon, since so few people understand what selinux even is, let alone how to properly configure it. The same goes for bind (dns)

However: overall, the book is very good, aside from a few things I could spend a lot of time nitpicking on. This book will NOT take a novice up to RHCE level; you do need to have a solid understanding of basic Linux and general computing concepts to begin with, and having a solid understanding of filesystems and a basic understanding of networking won't hurt either. If you have the basics under your belt it will certainly take you up to the level you need to pass the exams, but your studying doesn't end with that exam; you'll need to keep reading and studying to become competent and comfortable on the job.

This book is designed for one thing: to help you prepare for the RHCSA and RHCE exams, and assumes you have a solid understanding of the basic workings of Linux and/or UNIX. It is very well-written and unlike other Linux books I could mention, Jang doesn't waste ink telling jokes or telling the user to "bribe your admin with a pizza" or any nonsense you might find elsewhere.

There are lots of holes that this book can't possibly fill, because Jang covers a lot of ground in 17 chapters. If you are serious about getting into system administration you'll be reading plenty of books and howto sites covering each of the specific topics. By the way, you can do all of the exercises in this book with one physical box, with three systems in VMs running on that one host.

Oh, and major bonus: this book comes with an electronic copy on PDF. I keep a copy of it on my tablet.
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