How I Passed the CKA

After passing the CKAD at the end of 2019, I was amped and ready to knock out the CKA. I was ready to take the exam in March and then all hell broke loose. 2020 is the year of Covid and nothing seems to be working out as expected. Fast forward to November and I decided it was finally time to get back to it. So, what did I do this time around?

Platform

While I still think Linux Academy is a great training platform, there was a change which I’m not happy about. It seem innocuous enough until it keeps rearing its head as a royal pain. So what’d they do? Well, the servers in the once awesome Cloud Playground now get random names. This means that instead of username.mylabserver1.com, it’s 372633adnv2a.mylabserver.com. I find this makes it a serious pain when you’re trying to work on a number of servers.

Training Courses

I took three different courses towards completing this certification:

Linux Foundation LFS-258
Linux Academy CKA Course
KodeKloud CKA Course

Let’s take a look at each of these individually.

Linux Foundation LFS-258

Once again, I purchased the certification bundle from the Linux Foundation so the course and exam came together. I hate to say it, but I’m just not a fan of the official courses. In fact, I realized after I had successfully passed the exam that I hadn’t even look at the materials once.

Two things I noticed:

  • I swear there were things that weren’t covered (like etcd backup/restore).
  • There was useful info that had no use towards the exam. It should have been part of a Resources section for later review.

If you purchase the course at Black Friday when things are on sale, the price difference between the bundle and just the exam is negligible. This year it’s $20. So while I don’t really care for it, for the price, you might just pick up something new.

Linux Academy CKA Course

The LA course and labs were good…with a caveat. I spent too long going through a course which I finally realized hadn’t been updated. Despite a video about 1.18 changes, all of the labs used 1.13. Once I realized there was a completely different course things got back on track. I’d say if you’re already a LA member (not sure when the content will be available through A Cloud Guru) then it’s not a bad course.

The practice exam experience is a little better. Basically, you complete the tasks and run a script to check your work. It’s not the greatest, but it works.

KodeKloud CKA Course

I’m still a fan of KodeKloud. I’ll just copy this from last year’s report.

The KK labs are, by far, the best. It’s the only lab series I found which provides real-time feedback so you know right away whether you’re on the right track or not. There is an excellent lab which is very complete and throws a lot of tasks into a single lab so while the presentation is different from the real exam, the concept is the same. And if you don’t have a working system at the end, you don’t pass the lab. There are also two mock exams included.

In addition to the mock exams is a lightning lab to help you work on your speed. Honestly, I think this course is enough for you pass the exam.

Misc

Since I have another year of real-world Kubernetes experience under my belt, I really didn’t do a lot of practice exercises outside of the course materials. And I’ll be honest, I skimmed/skipped through a good bit of it. In my daily life, I’m an OpenShift cluster admin so I live and breathe Kubernetes. I only focused on the sorts of tasks I don’t do everyday. Or those that we do differently in our enterprise setting.

If you haven’t already read it, I’d suggest taking a look at my CKAD review. I’ve updated it since a number of the commands are different now. Options and flags have changed which, in my opinion, has hurt those of use that live by the imperative command. I get that you should really be doing Infrastructure as Code and not doing things on the fly from the command line but that’s how the exam is geared.

One point of interest is that the exam was reduced in scope and duration. With the release of the new Certified Kubernetes Security Specialist certification, the security questions were removed. This drops the exam to 17 questions and 2 hours instead of 24 questions and 3 hours.

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