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Distribution: Lots of distros in the past, now Linux Mint
I've got 2 LPI, 1 RHCE, and a Linux+ certs under my belt. Unfortunately for me, I paid for most of the testing myself (I skipped class, but I've been doing this for a bit, so the tests were just a matter of reviewing various books). I can't complain, though, because the couple hundred I've spent has paid off several fold. I've been able to step away from my old job and instead of being locked in some MCSE shop with no say, I've had a couple of small companies pay fairly well for me to untie their MS ropes.
That isn't to say it's been easy. I'm basically self/un employed, at least compared to my MCSE "friends" who pull down the same amount per year. They tease me, but continue to ask me questions about hardware, software, linux, etc. I spend more time working, but I do it on my own schedule, more or less. Most importantly, I don't get "angry" calls as often, partly because I'm careful to make sure stuff works before I leave a job (a lot of people don't), partly because linux just works so well.
Regardless of all that, at least I love what I do now. I hated fighting with software support people who were reading stuff I already knew. I also hated having a new version of windows come out that moved menu items or broke for no particular reason. Some people think of it as job security. I think of it as busy work.
Distribution: Mint 17.2 ,OpenSuse, Kali and Pepermint OS 6
Some of my course books
Here is a list of the course books I used in my classes:
Course Technology's Guide to Linux Installation and Administration
by: Nicholas Wells
The Korn Shell Third Edition
by: Anatole Olczak
Sybex Linux Security
Sybex Linux Apache Web Server Administration Second Edition
O'Reilly DNS and Bind 4th Edition
I know there are 2 more books I used but I lent them to a friend I will get the information from them and post those soon. hope this is of some use for you guys