Welcome to the BSDP Exam Objectives Wiki

Using: If you are interested in just reading through the BSDP exam objectives, skip to the next section.

Contributing: If you want to help develop the BSDP exam objectives, you'll first need to create an account on this wiki. Go to the main page and click the 'Edit' button to get started. You'll need an 'Account Creation Password' (to help us prevent spam). Email info at bsdcertification.org or contact Jeremy Reed, Dru Lavigne, or Jim Brown through the "BSD Certification Group" FaceBook group. You can also ask for help in the #bsdcert channel on Freenode.

Note that content for the initial draft of the BSDP objectives is now being finalized. If you have additions/alterations, please also let us know on the BSDCert email list, or on #bsdcert on freenode. Publication of the BSDP objectives is underway!

After you have created your account, read through these guidelines. The guidelines for writing the BSDP exam objectives are different from the BSDA objectives, so please review them before you start writing.

The BSD Certification Group is planning both a written exam and a hands-on lab for the BSD Professional Certification. The written exam will be in the same format at the BSD Associate exam (paper based exam with answer sheet).

The hands-on lab is expected to be a collection of exercises that the candidate will perform using multiple networked BSD systems set up in a virtual environment. Details on the actual lab are still being worked out.

Because the lab will be a timed test, the exam objectives material for the BSDP Exam includes time estimates. These estimates are intended to help guide the candidate in sharpening their skills to perform the listed task quickly and efficiently. You should use the time estimates as a guide only. The actual exam times may vary from those indicated here.

Introduction to the BSDP Exam Objectives

This document describes the examination objectives for the BSD Professional (BSDP) certification. The BSDP exam is comprehensive and consists of both a written exam and a lab (“hands-on”) exam to provide the opportunity for the candidate to demonstrate knowledge comprehension as well as practical skill. The objectives listed later in this document describe the required knowledge comprehension as well as a time estimate to use in preparing for the lab exam.


These objectives cover the tasks that a senior level BSD system administrator with approximately 5 years experience would be expected to be able to perform. The objectives are intended to help candidates prepare for both the written and lab sections of the exam. The typical BSD Professional is experienced in using one or more versions of BSD such as NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, DragonFlyBSD, or other BSD system for several years; may be employed as a senior BSD administrator; and typically has a well developed knowledge of shell scripting, networking, user administration, file and filesystem maintenance, kernel tuning, and many other technical tasks. The BSDP exam was created by the BSD Certification Group (BSDCG) to help employers, managers, recruiters, and others assess the skill levels of senior level BSD system administrators.


These objectives were constructed from the results of the BSDP Job Task Analysis Survey. The survey, held in late 2009, was composed of approximately 190 technical tasks covering twelve different knowledge domains. The survey attempted to determine the “Importance” and “Frequency” of each item. Psychometric analysis of the results selected the preliminary list of objectives which has been refined through BSD community involvement.

Table 1 shows the key for interpreting the numerical results for the survey graphs.

Very Low Low Medium High Very High
Less 1X/Month Monthly Weekly Daily Multiple X/Day

Many responders pointed out that there are some tasks that are generally only done once in the life of the system, such as formatting the root file system, or performing an initial installation. These were generally assumed to be Frequency “Less Than 1X per Month”.

Several exam objectives with an Importance less than 3.0 or a Frequency less than 1.5 have been reviewed and removed during SME sessions in the course of the development of the certification. In addition, some objectives were reworded slightly from the original JTA to make their purpose more clear or to make them more applicable to all of the BSD projects. All these changes have been reviewed with the psychometrician.

Operating System Versions Covered by BSDP

In order for a certification to be practical, it must cover working knowledge in versions of BSD operating systems most likely to be seen in the workplace. The initial BSDP exam will cover material applicable to the following versions of these operating systems:

  • NetBSD: 5.1
  • FreeBSD: 8.1
  • OpenBSD: 4.7
  • DragonFly BSD: 2.6.3

While this appears at first glance to be covering just the latest versions, the testing candidate should keep in mind that the base utilities most likely to be encountered in the BSDP examination rarely change from one operating system revision to another.

The testing candidate is cautioned however, to carefully review the exam objectives and to research any features of which they may be unaware. It is recommended that candidates research the online “Release Notes” for the particular BSD operating system if they come across an exam objective that does not appear on their version of the operating system.

Note that some objectives are specific to only certain BSD projects and may not apply to all. For example, some objectives concern the configuration of jails a type of virtualization technology that is only supported in FreeBSD and DragonFlyBSD. In each case, the objective will be marked accordingly. Since the exam itself aims to be BSD-agnostic, exam questions will be weighted so that BSDP candidates are not unduly penalized for features present on a BSD that they do not use.

Blooms Taxonomy

Blooms Taxonomy is a commonly used classification of learning objectives. Each BSDP exam objective contains at least one of the following Bloom types. Note that not all Bloom types are applied here, only those that are specific to evaluating a candidates effectiveness as a BSD system administrator.

  • K- Knowledge: indicates that BSDP candidates should be familiar with basic concepts, and can recall facts and terms about the objective.

  • C- Comprehension: indicates that BSDP candidates exhibit understanding by being able to compare, contrast, and organize information about the objective.

  • A- Application: indicates that BSDP candidates use knowledge to solve problems by applying the knowledge to specific tasks. Exam objectives that may show up on the lab portion of the exam will include Bloom type A.

Some exam objectives are not well suited to a lab scenario. They will be marked as K or K,C. However, BSDP candidates are urged to study all objectives since all objectives have an equal likelihood of being on the written portion of the exam.

Recertification Requirements

The exam objectives, the versions of operating systems to be covered, and the question pool for the BSDP will be regularly reviewed and modified as required to ensure that the material being tested is current and relevant. Should the exam objectives or tested operating systems change, an announcement will be made and the new objectives will be made publicly available.

Once a testing candidate has successfully met the requirements for BSDP certification, the candidate does NOT need to recertify when:

  • the exam objectives are modified
  • the question pool is modified
  • a new version of any of the tested operating systems is released

However, the BSDP certification is only valid for five@@@ years. Existing BSDPs who wish to maintain their certification will need to recertify every five@@@ years. Details on how to recertify will be publicly available in a document to be published in 2006.

Exam Description

Official BSDP Examination Description

The following is the official BSDP examination description, suitable for display by training and testing centers and for use within training materials:

        “The BSDP (BSD Professional) Certification is for those with strong to
        expert skills in BSD Unix system administration. The successful candidate
        understands and uses both basic and advanced system administration commands
        demonstrating proficiency in the following areas:

             1. INSTALLATION and SETUP
             2. SECURITY
             3. FILESYSTEMS and FILES
             4. USERS
             6. COMMON SERVICES
             7. GENERAL NETWORKING
             8. BACKUP and RESTORE
             9. VIRTUALIZATION
            10. LOGGING and MONITORING

        Each area contains detailed exam objectives that are fully described in the
        corresponding sections of this document. Additional information about the
        BSD Professional Certification is available at the BSD Certification Group
        website http://www.bsdcertification.org."

Using the BSDP Study Domains

The BSDP Certification Exam covers eleven study domains, each containing several detailed exam objectives:

  4. USERS

Note: The PRINTING domain is now deprecated. The wiki page is kept for historical interest.

Testing candidates should understand all exam objectives prior to taking the exam, even though not every exam objective may be tested on every version of the BSDP exam.

Note that exam objectives are not the same as exam questions. Exam objectives are publicly available for distribution whereas exam questions are the private intellectual property of the BSD Certification Group. Those who have access to exam questions- psychometricians, translators, testing centers, and the testing candidate during the certification exam- are subject to an NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) and are subject to penalties if the NDA is broken.

To assist the testing candidate in their studies and for those who wish to provide training and study materials, each exam objective has five components:

  1. Number and name- of the exam objective.
  2. Importance and Frequency metrics- metrics that can guide the candidate in understanding what tasks are the most important and frequently performed.
  3. Concept- which describes the background material the candidate should master in order to effectively put the exam objective to use.
  4. Practical- which provides a list of commands and other content which may appear on the certification exam. Where applicable, the section of the manual is included and candidates are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the contents of specified man pages.
  5. Estimated Time- an estimate to use as a guide for completing the task in the BSDP lab exam. Note that these estimates are for candidate reference only, and do not necessarily reflect the time allocation specified in the actual lab exam.

Note: When using the exam objectives, keep the following points in mind:

  • Remember that the BSDP certification exam tests practical skills: don't just memorize man pages. Instead, continually practice the commands until you understand the man pages and can perform the operation in the estimated time.

  • This is an advanced level examination. You are not expected to know everything, but you are expected to know a lot of things, and demonstrate that you have experience completing common administrative tasks within the estimated time.

  • Watch for the words "install", "configure", "perform", "set up", and similar action words in an exam objective. This indicates that you need to know precisely how to perform all these operations on the given task.

Where major differences exist across the BSD projects in the commands used to accomplish a task, it may be noted in the Practical section of the objective, but the details regarding all differences are not always listed. Instead, candidates are highly encouraged to refer to the cross reference table supplied with these objectives in preparing for the exam. This table contains an alphabetical list of the required commands and their availability on the four listed BSD operating systems.

The knowledge domains for the BSDP Exam are listed below. Click on a domain heading to access the wiki page for that domain.











PRINTING (now deprecated)


Appendix A contains the Command Reference Guide, a list of commands applicable to each BSD system.

Appendix A