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Launch Your First Hands-On Lab For Free

Posted on March 27, 2019 by Christophe LimpalairChristophe Limpalair

All free Community Edition members of Linux Academy receive 35 Gems upon signing up.
If you’re not familiar with Gems, they are Linux Academy’s official currency and can be used to either consume Hands-On Labs on our platform (labs are free and unlimited for paid members) or to purchase swag from our official store.
Hands-On Labs is a key feature when it comes to learning practical skills. Instead of simply watching videos, Hands-On Labs deploy real environments with scenarios for you to complete. By completing the real-world scenarios, you are growing your personal knowledge base with skills that can be used directly on the job.

Community Edition & Gems

A few years ago, we launched a Community Edition version for users who weren’t in a position to purchase a membership but who still needed access to some training content.
Even more recently, we launched our Gems currency. As part of this launch, we made Hands-On Labs consumable with Gems, giving Community Edition members the ability to launch labs as long as they have enough gems.
Let’s walk through an example by launching one of our very popular labs: Introduction to Identity and Access Management (IAM). Keep in mind that we have a library of over 600 Hands-On Labs across many categories such as Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, Linux, DevOps, Containers, Security, and more.
Understanding how to secure AWS accounts and resources is critical when first getting started with Amazon Web Services. IAM is their central service for managing this security, and so we teach you the ins-and-outs very early on in your learning journey for AWS tracks.
As with everything else, there is no better way to train on how to use IAM than by using IAM itself. This Hands-On Lab will do just that:
The scenario of this lab is as follows:
  • In this lab, we’ll walk through the foundations of IAM, focusing on user and group management, as well as assigning access to specific resources using IAM-managed policies.
  • We’ll log in as different AWS users and see how permissions that are assigned via our groups affect our users. And we’ll take a look at how managed access control list policies help us define permissions (e.g. access keys, passwords, etc.) at a granular level for our users that are members of individual groups. (This is particularly important nowadays when it comes to security and compliance issues.)
  • In AWS IAM, there’s the root access account level, and, within that, we can create different groups to which we can add members. Groups provide different sets of permissions (also known as policies) for users, depending on what they require for their job function. Today, we’ll get a firsthand look at how this all works.

Launching Your First Hands-On Lab for Free

If you don’t already have one, go ahead and create a Community Edition account free of charge
Once you’re logged in to your account, head over to the Hands-On Lab.
From there, click “Start Lab.” You will notice a Gem number in that button, and this is the Gem cost associated with the lab. Some labs are cheaper and some are more expensive, but as long as you have more Gems than the cost, you can launch the lab for free.
If you’re not sure how many Gems you have left, take a look in the top navigation bar next to the Linux Academy logo on the left. The number next to the Gem icon represents how many you have left. For example, I have 4 Gems left after having taken a few labs.
If you do run low on Gems, there are ways of getting more.
Back to our lab — after starting the lab, your environment will load right away. From there, we need to log in to the AWS Console so we can complete our scenario.

Logging in to the environment

As previously mentioned, our Hands-On Labs are not simulations — they’re the real deal. This means you need to log in to the environment itself. In our case, we’re dealing with an AWS environment, but this could also be Azure, Google Cloud, or Linux environments.
In order to log in to the environment, simply click the “Open AWS Console” button, and copy/paste the username & password fields.
Side note: did you know we partnered with the Amazon Lightsail team in order to launch an Amazon Lightsail Deep Dive course?
Once you’re logged in to AWS, go ahead and navigate to the IAM service in order to complete the scenario.
Now that you’ve successfully logged in to the account and have navigated to IAM, it’s time for you to complete the entire scenario in order to make sure you’ve gained the skills needed to start working inside of AWS and securing your AWS accounts as well as resources.

Learning Tools Available for Labs

To help you learn and complete the real-world scenario, we provide learning tools which are all accessible from the same page:
  1. Instructions
  2. Videos
  3. Written guide
  4. Architectural Diagram
Instructions include objectives which are there to show the high-level tasks you need to complete during the lab, and they also provide hints if you click on them. This is helpful if you are stuck or if you want to quickly verify your work.
Videos are there to walk you through the scenario if you need a guiding hand so that you don’t get stuck, but you aren’t required to watch them if you’d rather practice on your own (and then verify your work after the fact).
The same goes for written guides. They are optional, but they can serve as a quick reference to check your work or move past a roadblock.
Finally, the architectural diagrams help you visualize the scenario that you will complete. This is another great way of getting hints without receiving too much information, or also to re-enforce what you’ve learned in this lab in a visual format. If you’re a visual learner like myself, this can make a big difference.

Complete the scenario and learn a new skill!

You now have access to the Hands-On Lab environment and the training resources you need in order to complete this lab, learn a new skill, and move on to more labs!
Don’t forget to hit “Complete Hands-On Lab” when you are done so that you will receive credit for completing this lab. If you end up being part of a business account, your manager can see exactly which skills you’ve gained as a result of your training on Linux Academy, and that can go a very long way!
Enjoy, and happy learning! Don’t forget to refer a friend or connect your LinkedIn account in order to earn more Gems.


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