What version of Red Hat is used for the Red Hat Certified System Administrator Exam?

Because I don't have over $3000 to invest in the Red Hat course that prepares you for the exam I am going to install Red Hat and practice all of the listed objectives on my own. (Exam Objectives) I'll probably do some other practice as well just for fun. As of right now I am downloading Red Hat Linux 7.1 i386.

As a secondary question, would you advise either for or against taking the course? Are there other avenues the you would suggest to help me prepare for the exam? Also if I were to fail the exam would I have to pay again to retake it?

  • Red Hat Linux 7.1 is 11 years old, so don't even waste your time with it; the RHCSA probably will use RHEL 5 and 6.
    – Renan
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 3:46
  • 1
    Another option, especially if you're short on cash, is the LPI Linux Certification. Lots of good stuff there. Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 3:58

6 Answers 6


First: Red Hat 7.1 is 11 years old and hopelessly obsolete, thus being unsuitable for any recent exam.

From the link you posted:

This guide provides information candidates may use in preparing to take the Red Hat® Certified System Administrator (RHCSA) exam on Red Hat Enterprise Linux® 6.

So, get CentOS 6 and learn using it: most of what you need will be covered there, except for the RHN (Red Hat Network) stuff. For those you could grab a trial version of RHEL.

  • 1
    Wow I can't believe I missed that in the first paragraph! I'm still glad that I asked the question though because I didn't know CentOS would be similar enough to use, and the link to the trial version is really nifty! I was thinking I would get RHEL for Desktop which is only $50. Something I wouldn't mind paying. Thanks! I'd definitely 1 up you if I had 15 rep.
    – Austin
    Commented Sep 12, 2012 at 4:02

It's fine to use CentOS (based on RedHat), since redhat didn't write those open-source software or firewall stuff, configuration are the same.

The only thing you can't do is the rhn part, I don't think it would be included in the exam, ask the officier.

Of course you need to re-pay the fee if you failed ....


Use Centos 6 (or any of it's point releases, point releases are not critical to the exam). There is no meaningful difference between it and RHEL for exam purposes. Another option is Scientific Linux 6 which is another RHEL clone.

You would need to install the 64 bit version on a "bare metal machine" (or else use VMware to virtualize Intel VT-x/AMD-v and allow nested virtual machines) to practice the kvm part of the exam but everything else can be done on a virtual machine of your choice running within Windows, Mac OSX or Linux.

You can easily self study for the exam and just take the exam if you put in enough effort, there is no need to take the rather expensive Red Hat course.

  • 1
    Such answers go stale... grab the latest CentOS release, work from there. There shouldn't be too many changes from one verson to the next. But keep an eye on the release notes if the release is brand new!
    – vonbrand
    Commented Feb 19, 2020 at 18:48

In this moment, RHEL7 (Red Hat Entreprise Linux 7).


Note : RedHat is the trademark logo, Red Hat is the company name. Red Hat Entreprise Linux the current name of the Red Hat distribution dedicated server


Sorry, I have read that and Ok for CentOS but take at least the distribution from the same major version.

  • RHEL 8 -> CentOS 8
  • RHEL 7 -> CentOS 7
  • ...

Keep to your mind that you can get for 30 days at least the RHEL to test it before fees are ok. So if you need to train for the certification, don't hesitate when you will be on the subscription/registration part/practice.


I know this is an old post, but you can get a red hat developer license for 15 free licenses of RHEL to use at home to practice on.

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