Getting an RHCE Certification for RHEL6

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If you received an RHCE certification for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 4 or earlier, that cert expired when RHEL 6 was released in November, 2010. If you are thinking about re-upping your RHCE cert (or getting one for the first time), I wanted to start a discussion here about tips for doing that.

A bit about me: I recently became a writer for the Red Hat customer portal. Just before that, I spent almost three years as a trainer for Red Hat, focusing particularly on Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Red Hat Certified System Administrator (RHCSA, formerly RHCT) training and certification. Before that I spent about a decade writing a few dozen Linux books, including the Red Hat Linux Bible, Linux Toolbox series, Linux Toys series, and Fedora Bible.

Although we are not allowed to speak directly of what is on the RHCE exam, or train people specifically to take the exam, there is public information I can point you to that can help you pursue your RHCE certification:

• RHCE Prep Guide: Go here to get information on the format and objectives of the exam. For RHCSA, go here:
• Notice topics no longer covered: If you took the exam before RHEL 6, notice that several previous topics are no longer on the exam, including: Software RAID, user quotas, IMAP (IMAPs, POP3s), DNS slave server, and using rescue media.
• Notice new topics: Actually, there's kind of a lot of new stuff.

If you are rusty or unfamiliar with some of the topics here, Red Hat training ( is the best way to prepare for the exams. However, if you want to try to take the exams cold, I'd be glad to discuss some of the new topics on the prep guides within this group. They include:

New RHCSA Level Skills:
• Identify CPU/memory intensive processes, adjust process priority with renice, and kill processes
• Virtualization: Configure virtual host, install/launch/start/stop virtual guests
• Create and configure LUKS-encrypted partitions
• Configure systems to mount file systems at boot by Universally Unique ID (UUID) or label
• Mount and unmount CIFS and NFS network file systems
• Configure a physical machine to host virtual guests
• Configure system to run default HTTP and FTP server
• Firewalls and SELinux

New RHCE Level Skills:
• Network Address Translation (NAT) via iptables
• Configure system to authenticate using Kerberos
• Build a simple RPM package
• Use shell scripts to automate system maintenance tasks
• Configure a system to accept logging from a remote system
• Configure an MTA (mail server) to forward (relay) email through a smart host

As we get our new Online User Groups off and running, I'd like to invite you to discuss this and other topics related to RHCSA and RHCE certification for RHEL 6.

-- Chris Negus
Red Hat GSS Customer Portal


I've taken RHCE and passed since RHEL 2.1, but never have a chance to retake RHCE test again. During those day, we had to recompile kernel, solve kernel panics, network, drivers issues, DNS, http, mail, etc.

I wonder what does rhce 6 test look like now? and what topic(s) does it cover?

"current" RHCE's: care to share your experiment about preparing, taking test!!!!!


Unfortunately, the NDA we agree to doesn't allow us to talk about the specific contents of the test. But here are a few matters that are public knowledge that might help you:

  • There's nothing on recompiling the kernel, solving kernel panics or dealing with driver issues.
  • The entire test is hands-on...meaning no multiple-choice questions, no essays. You need to be able to configure the system related to the topics set in the RHCE prep guide.
  • If you go for an RHCE cert for RHEL 6, you have a 2.5-hour RHCSA section in the morning and a two-hour RHCE section in the afternoon.
  • If you pass the RHCSA but not the RHCE, you get an RHSA. But if you just pass the RHCE section, you don't get any cert. (But if you come back and pass the RHCSA later, you get the full RHCE cert, without having to pass the RHEL 6 RHCSA again.)

Again, the RHCE and RHCSA prep guides cover the possible topics. Because the exam can change from week-to-week, it's possible that topics that aren't in the test one week could still be on it another week. In other words, the prep guides are still the best way to find out what might be on the exams.


-- Chris Negus
Red Hat GSS Customer Portal

Chris mentioned: "In other words, the prep guides are still the best way to find out what might be on the exams."

I just wanted to (very carefully) underscore this. I printed out each prep guide and had it next to my computer while I was self-studying for the RHCA. The certification staff responsible for the prep guides put significant effort into them and they are exceptional.

Phil, that's a really good point. Not only RHCE, but all of the RHCA-level certifications (clustering, virtualization, performance tuning, etc.) have prep guides available. They can help you self-study or make you realize that you really do need training in certain areas.


Because the non-disclosure agreements are so threatening ("tell about what's on the exam and you could lose your certification") many people shy away from the discussion altogether. But as long as we keep the focus on the prep guides and the technology they describe, not exam questions, there's a lot we can say. And I'm glad to do it (to the point where someone from certification yells at me ;-) ).


Here are links to prep guides to some of our other certifications:

  • EX333 Red Hat Enterprise Security: Network Services Expertise Exam Prep Guide ( 
  • EX401 Red Hat Enterprise Deployment and Systems Management Expertise Exam (
  • EX423 Red Hat Enterprise Directory Services and Authentication Expertise Exam (
  • EX318 Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization Exam (
  • EX436 Red Hat Enterprise Clustering and Storage Management Expertise Exam (
  • EX442 Red Hat Enterprise System Monitoring and Performance Tuning Expertise Exam (

To be designated a Red Hat Certified Architect (RHCA), you need to pass EX333, EX401, EX436, EX442 and also either EX318 or EX423.


-- Chris Negus
Red Hat GSS Customer Portal

Just want to say I do agree that the prep guides give you a list of topics to study and research. However, I've read 6 or 7 manuals, then attended the Admin I course. There's a lot of stuff which I missed, mostly GUI stuff. This can be due to me using the command line all the time. It's an expensive option and does take time to attend training courses, but it will be worthwhile in the long run. I've put off attending training courses for a long time, but RHEL6 seems to be a good time to get some training because you get all the GUI stuff, it is a much bigger OS, so the course is meatier. I'm going for the Admin II course. After that, I hope to attend the Admin III course. The exams are scarey, but the most important thing (to me anyway) is to be able to work with the OS effectively. Somebody on the course told me he just "pass the buck" to the hosting company. I told him I work for a hosting company. So looks like the buck stops with me!

Good points Lina. In the Admin II class, you'll go much deeper into the command line than in Admin I. One of the good things about taking the training is that you can really focus on learning. I've often heard students say that they tried learning Linux on their own at work, but are constantly being diverted to work issues.


Taking the full three weeks (Admin I, II, and III) will get you everything you need to take the RHCE exam. Remember that the RHCE exam is a hands-on exam. I think the best way to prepare, if you are taking the classes, is to make sure that you can do all the hands-on labs in the class. If you can do all those (eventually not looking at the solutions), you have a good shot at passing the RHCE.

Red Hat exams are hands-on.  CLI, GUI, etc... whatever gets the job done is what you can use.  Don't create more work for yourself, your time is limited, so if a GUI does the job faster, learn and use it.  ;)

Do you have an RHCE cert for RHEL 5 and are thinking of recertifying for RHEL 6? There's a document you can get that describes the differences between RHCE for RHEL5 and RHEL6. Thanks to my friend Tom Weeks for digging this one out: