Book Review: ExamCram 2, LPIC I Exam 101 & 102

Book Review:

  • Title: ExamCram 2, LPIC I Exam 101 & 102
  • Authors: Ross Bruson
  • Publisher: QUE
  • Date: August 2004
  • ISBN: 0-7897-3127-4

This book appears to have become the standard guide for those revising for the LPIC 101 and LPIC 102 exams. It is an expensive book, but does include the information for two complete exams, and can be bought for much less than it’s recommended price.

Ironically near the beginning of the book it says the following:
“Be very careful about where you get your exam prep materials. Almost all the resources except this book, LPI’s site, and IBM’s resources are outdated and cover only the previous revision of these exams.”
The fact is that despite buying the book only days before sitting the LPIC 101 exam I found that I had been given out-of-date information. The 101 exam now has a single exam which includes questions on both RPM and Debian package management tools. The exam had just changed, and printed books obviously have quite a long shelf life, but it’s a bit unfair for them to criticise other resources in this way. It’s now been several months since the change and the books still claim to be up-to-date.

If you ignore the advice not to revise the Debian information, and then go to Appendix A and revise it anyway, then you should be back on track.

The book covers each of the topic areas, first giving some information, and then providing some practice questions and answers. The information provided is a bit brief, but fine if you are only revising. If you find that the topic is new to you (and chances are they’ll be something), then it doesn’t really give you the information to learn that topic. But at least you can take that information and go and look up the details elsewhere.

The practice questions are listed at the end of each section with the answer directly underneath. This means that you don’t have to keep switching to another page to view the answers, but also means that you can sometimes end up seeing the answer before you’ve had a chance to think over the answer. I found myself using a bookmark to hide the answers so that I didn’t accidentally see the answers, although even then there is no gap between the questions and the answers so I still saw some of the answers by mistake. The answers don’t just give the correct option, but also explain why that answer was correct, and why the other possibles were not correct. This works well for some questions, but for others it gets a little annoying being told the obvious all the time. I would have preferred that the incorrect answers were only mentioned when they can actually contribute something to the understanding. It is still better than just being told the answer and then getting stuck over why it wasn’t a different answer.

There are a few errors / omissions in a few of the topics. These can cause additional confusion but are few and far between. Here is one example for the lprm command:

“-a — Removes all files from any and all spools that are modifiable by the user (can be used with the all keyword to specify all jobs in all queues)”

That one paragraph appears to contradict itself, saying first that it will remove all files from all spools, but then saying that it needs to use the all keyword to actually perform that operation. Fortunately it is made clearer in the examples given (shown below), but this sort of thing can be confusing when trying to revise.

“To remove just the first job from all queues, use
lrpm -a

To remove all the jobs from the default queue, use
lprm all

To remove all jobs from all queues, use the command shown here:
lprm -a all”

There are fortunately not too many of these mistakes.

A CD is included to accompany the book which provides the text of the book as a PDF, and a exam program. The program works with both Windows and Linux, although it did not work straight away with the Mandrake machine I was running.

The following instructions are the additional steps that I took to get it working:

To install the practice exam program on Mandrake

copy file from examsim-linux-1.0-setup
to: examsim.setup
ln -s /usr/lib/ /usr/lib/
Then run as specified in the book.

Some people that buy the book will be able to work this out themselves, but those that haven’t gained the knowledge for both exams may not be able to.

There is also a tear-out cram sheet, although compared with the exams I sat this can throw you off course. For example it lists I/O addresses of serial and printer ports which were not asked for in the exam, and it would be a bit mean if they did expect you to know them off by heart.

The book was useful when I was revising for my exams, especially as I only had a short period of time to revise. You need to be aware that some aspects are out-of-date, and be careful that it doesn’t trip you up.