Friday, March 16, 2012

Primer on reading Michael Jang's Red Hat Linux Certification Study Guide

I started reading Michael Jang's RHCSA/RHCE Red Hat Linux Certification Study Guide about 2 weeks  ago, then took a brief detour (3 days) to get my VM server up and running (see post - RHCSA Labs and Shuttle trouble - Just Getting Started). I'm working my way through the book and although it gets great reviews and is it's a great reference, I can't help but feel it's a tad all over the place.

For instance, The first couple of chapters have labs working through the chapter that are referenced at later points in the book (with things like "if you followed the previous lab, you should be here..."). However, it's never really clear if you're supposed to work those labs or only the ones at the end of the chapter, which seem a bit more official. I've been working both. On one hand the repetitive action is great, on the other it's starting to get a bit confusing.

Then there's the references to random sections in regards to previous and more advanced topics, which can drive one mad if you let it. Take SELinux for instance. When you are initially focusing on setting up VMs and deploying via kickstart, why not just set SELinux to permissive to allow a more clear focus on Kickstart? Instead there are random commands with no explanation other than referring to Chapter 4 and 11. Granted I know not all can be be explained at once, so why not circumvent the more advanced technology for the time being and address it with more a in depth explanation later in the book?

Well, enough ranting and besides, I really do like the book so far, sans the lab murkiness. Where this leads me is to a desire to list coherent directions on how to approach Jang's book. So, I'm going to layout how I am doing the initial 2 chapters and hope that will help keep me straight on what's going on.

Also, take note, some of the same tasks need to be done multiple times.

Chapter 1 Tasks:
  1. Read through chapter 1 without attempting exercises or labs
  2. Note drive partition suggestions (somewhat important for VM labs).
  3. Note basic installation steps
  4. Download demo of RHEL, download Scientific Linux 6 / CentOS 6 
    1. I grabbed a 30 day evaluation of RHEL (requires registration) and the flavors
  5.  Do Exercise 1.1 - Partitioning during install of RHEL (or flavor) on VM server
    1. if you setup the VM host as part of exercise 1, ignore the partitions he noted as you will need more space for VMs
    2. I'm working remotely, so setup VNC for host machine. Here's good instructions
  6. Follow along with noted basic installation steps
  7. If using a server to host VMs, ensure it is KVM capable Intel vmx or AMD svm
    1. #egrep "vmx|svm" /proc/cpuinfo | less
      1. in less type "/vmx" to search for vmx in the results
  8. Setup and configure default file sharing services (http & ftp) on VM host
  9.  Do Exercise 1.2 - configure Apache and vsFTP  on VM host
  10. Do Lab 1 
  11. Do Lab 2 - copy install media contents to the share directory on VM host
  12. Do Lab 3

Chapter 2 Tasks:
  1.  Ensure KVM is installed (pdf p.4-6)
  2. Ensure the KVM modules are installed correctly
    1. #lsmod | grep kvm
  3. run "virt-manager" with root privileges from a shell within the GUI
    1. The hypervisor (virt-manager) is supposed to prompt for the root password if run from a normal user, but I was unable to run it at all that way. Thus, VMM was not an option from the user's desktop menu
  4. Do Exercise 2-1 within the hypervisor
  5. Configure and create a VM (pdf p.15-19)
  6. Do Exercise 2-2 with the VM you just created (why wasn't that an exercise?)
  7. Note the VM deletion method on p.24
  8. Configure VM server to be a kickstart server (pdf p.29-31)
  9. Do Exercise 2-3
  10. Install kickstart configurator and create kickstart file with it.
    1. *Name it something different than the ks config from Exercise 2-3
  11. Configure X over SSH on VM server or one of the VMs
  12. Work through the 8 Labs. 

 The rest of the chapters are a bit more straight forward and so I won't do a layout for them.

 As another side note, Chapter 4's primer on SELinux can be well supplemented by the following:

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Security-Enhanced Linux - User Guide

Linux Journal's Paranoid Penguin - Introduction to SELinux
Linux Journal's Paranoid Penguin - Introduction to SELinux, Part II


  1. Replies
    1. I'm referring to the PDFs of each chapter that come on the DVD with the hard copy of the book. Although, the pages in the PDF correspond to the pages of the physical book as well.

  2. Hello Kim, I know this an old post but I wanted to ask you if you were able to set up the KVM lab (server1, tester1 and ousider1) in Michael's book? And did you pass the RHCSA exam?

  3. Hey Kim.

    I'm just starting studying for the RHCSE and found the instructions on the networking part for the Lab 1 confussing. What are the addresses for Netmask, Gateway and DNS Servers.

    I also find the book so far to have information all over the place.

    I will appreciate if you could shed some light on my question.

  4. Just wanted to say thanks for this :)