Which Linux distributions should I use to prepare myself for the LPIC exam and gain some experience in configuring the system? Not all of the material covered in LPIC-1, version 5 can be practised with on a single distribution, e.g. SysVInit and systemd, and the various package management systems (dpkg, apt, rpm, yum and zypper).

So what I am looking for is the minimal set of distributions with which I can practise everything in the topics for LPIC-1.


From Wikipedia:

The exams are distribution-neutral, requiring a general knowledge of Linux rather than specifics about a certain distribution. This is shown in the way that the exams deal with the differing package management formats .deb and .rpm. In earlier versions of the test one of these was chosen by the candidate; in the current version the candidate is expected to know both formats.

Thus, learning Red Hat (or CentOS, which is based upon Red Hat's source code) and Debian/Ubuntu should be enough.

However, looking beyond the certification, it's a good idea to have at least basic knowledge of other distros; in fact, trying your hand at Arch, Slackware, Gentoo or even LFS can be used to develop other useful skills.

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I passed LPIC-1 when I was still using Arch Linux, but in my opinion any Linux distribution will do. Anyway there are a few important topics (package managers and init scripts, for example) that require you to get your hands on distributions such as Debian/Ubuntu and Fedora. I used virtualization software as a solution. I don't know the requirements for LPIC-2 or LPIC-3, as I have yet to study for passing them.

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I would suggest LFS or Source Mage, since they don't hold your hand a lot. Overkill for this exam, but you said you wanted to get a feel for the system. :)

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According to version 5 of the LPIC-1 Exam 101 objectives, which was published in October 2018, you need to be familiar with a number of concepts and commands that are are alternatives to each other. Most notably, these are:

  • init systems: both systemd-related concepts and commands (e.g. boot targets, journalctl and systemctl) and the older SysVinit (e.g. runlevels, /etc/inittab, /etc/init.d/, etc.). Upstart is also still listed but much less important now, especially after Ubuntu switched to systemd for compatibility with Debian, which had also switched to systemd.
  • Package management: you need to be able to do package management with Debian tools (dpkg, apt-get, apt-cache, etc.), and with RPM-related tools, not just yum but also zypper.

So which distributions can you use?

  • If you use Debian or a Debian-based distribution such as Ubuntu, you can practise with systemd and with Debian tools for package management.
  • If you use Fedora or one of its derivatives (e.g. Cent OS), you can practise with systemd and with RPM tools for package management.
  • If you use openSUSE, you can practise with systemd and Zypper.
  • This still leaves us with the question which distribution to use for SysVinit. There are still a number of distros that use SysVinit, most notably Devuan, which forked from Debian, but also Gentoo (Gentoo offers systemd as an alternative) and Slackware. For other distrinbutions with SysVinit, consult the webpage Linux distributions without systemd.

Harald Maa├čen, whose book LPIC-1. Sicher zur erfolgreichen Linux-Zertifizierung (2018) is up-to-date with version 5 of the exam objectives, recommands using a Debian-based distro (e.g. Debian, Ubuntu or Mint) and a Red Hat-based distro (e.g. Scientific, Cent OS or Fedora). His book's introduction doesn't mention OpenSUSE (for zypper) or any distro that still uses SysVinit. It appears that you need at least three distributions to get experience with the concepts and tools listed at the beginning of my answer, e.g.

  • Fedora or one of its derivatives will bring systemd and RPM-based package management tools,
  • openSUSE will also allow you to practise with zypper (in addition to systemd),
  • Devuan will allows you to practise with SysVinit and the apt-based tools that you also get on Debian and Ubuntu.

Of course, you can run these distributions as virtualised machines, e.g. using VirtualBox.

Devuan may be an unexpected choice, but you can see how I arrived at it.

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Centos Enterprise Linux is usually recommended as it is redhat based.

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  • 3
    LPIC-1, for example, also require the candidate to know how to use the APT package manager, which is not used in Centos as far as I know. – Francesco Turco Oct 15 '12 at 20:23

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