As many personal computer users have learned over the years — some perhaps more frequently than others — few user experiences are more frustrating than seeing your work get “blue screened.” The operating system chokes on something and the computer more or less literally tells you, “Oops.” It’s potentially far more damaging to have the OS crap out when it’s managing a website server for a major corporation, so commercial ventures typically rely on more stable operating systems, such as Red Hat Enterprise Linux.
Or, in the case of some of the largest entities on the web, including Yahoo!, a somewhat obscure OS warhorse with the initials BSD. The acronym is uncannily similar to BSOD, which stands for “blue screen of doom (or death),” as referenced above. Berkeley Software Distribution, on the other hand, is a Unix-based OS so legendarily stable that its “uptimes” (the operating interval since the last system reboot) are sometimes measured in years.
Developed from 1977 to 1995 at the University of California, Berkeley, BSD today is available in a variety of releases, much like Linux. Also like Linux, most BSD-derived operating systems are open source and generally distributed free of charge. Some of the more popular variations are FreeBSD, NetBSD, OpenBSD and DragonflyBSD. Just as there are a variety of certifications for Linux, OpenStack and other open source software, you can get BSD certified, too.
The BSD Certification Group offers two levels of certification. You can become a BDS Certified Associate (BSDA), or a BSD Certified Professional (BSDP), though requirements to achieve the latter designation are still under development. There are no prerequisites for either certification, although you do have to register with BSD Certification Group and obtain a BSDCG ID in order to attempt either exam. And while OS certifications vary widely in price, BSDA certification is relatively inexpensive: just $75 at BSD conferences or conventions, or you can pay $150 to get certified at a testing center. (Notice of upcoming BSD events can be found online at BSD Events.)
The BSDA exam consists of 100 multiple-choice questions spread across seven knowledge domains. The range of scores is 200 to 700, and a minimum score of 500 is required for certification. The BSDP exam, when finalized, will include both a written test and a hands-on lab, addressing 11 different knowledge domains. Detailed information about BSDP requirements is available online. A beta version of BSDP lab exam was released earlier this year in March. BSD Certification Group credentials are valid for 5 years and confirmation to employers of BSDCG certification is available via e-mail.
While there are no workshops or courses required to attempt BSD certification, there is an official BSD certification study DVD available from BSD certification group.