Applying for new jobs can be a tough thing to do. This can be especially true in the high tech world.

Most jobs require that you have certification ahead of time. Once you have the magical piece of paper (or pieces of paper), you will probably have to prove your abilities in some way before you even get to talk to the person who may be able to refer you to the person that might be able to hire you. Usually this “proof of competence” comes in the way of a verbal or written quiz.

Depending on the business, you may have to answer the questions in the interview, or you may be able to take the quiz home and use reasonable resources to answer the questions to the best of your abilities.

This particular applicant apparently didn’t understand that you should, at the very least, do your own work. He got pwnd for it.

The original post was from a user named bradcarr in the Ubuntu linux forums. It was entitled “Calling All Linux Experts”:

“If I could ever so kindly ask the Linux world for some help.

I have applied for a job that is in a heavy Linux environment and I have been sent a questionnaire about my knowledge. I know my way around pretty good and just want double check my answers. Some of the questions and a gim-me, some take some thinking and some are just down right hard. Any and all help will be greatly appreciated.

Here are the questions:

1. Give an example of set of shell commands that will give you the number of files in a directory
2. How do you tell what process has a TCP port open in Linux
3. On a Red Hat Linux Variant how do you control whether a service starts when the system boots
4. How do you tell the amount of free disk space left on a volume
5. Give an example of a set of shell commands to tell how many times “bob” has logged on to the system this month
6. Give an example of a recursively copying a directory from one location to another.
7. How do you modify the IP and Net mask of a system running a Red Hat Variant of Linux
8. Give an example of a set of shell commands that will give you the number of “httpd” processes running on a Linux box.
9. On CentOS or Fedora based system using the package management application, how do you tell what package provided the file “”
10. What is the difference between VTP client, server, and transparent
11. What is the maximum length of CAT6
12. How does one set up a layer two link to share VLANs
13. How does one implement redundant links at Layer 2
14. What is the difference between a hub, switch, and a router
a. What are the security advantages of switch vs. hub
15. Show an example of using telnet to learn the headers of an http server.
16. In what OSI layer does PPP exist
17. What’s the difference between TCP and UDP
18. Given a DNS server that has just started (with an empty cache) and host contacting this DNS server (using it’s OS setting) to learn an address for, list the steps the DNS server will take to learn it with IP addresses (each step will have multiple possible IP addresses – you need choose only one per step).
19. Why are layer 2 loops bad, and what protocol was designed to prevent them
20. Given a radius server at and a shared key of ‘abc123’ show the IOS commands necessary to authenticate switch users against the radius server, while still allowing the use of local username / password pairs


Users were quick to respond with reasonable answers to his post like this one from dcstar:

“How about you supply the answers so we “experts” can tell you if they are correct or not, because I for one will not be taking the risk of aiding and abetting someone to get a job they may not be qualified for by potentially helping them cheat (and possibly prevent someone that is qualified from succeeding).

If you don’t answer then those others on this forum who may not be as cynical as me may have learned a valuable lesson themselves…..”

However, the real kicker was the response on page two of the post from a user named ptinsley:

“For those who have commented, it is indeed an entry level network administration position with some Linux skills required as most of our network management tools run on Linux. I would also like to say thank you for the very sensible comments you all have made about the call for answers. And “bradcarr” while you haven’t broken the rules of my questionnaire you have definitely broken the spirit of the exercise. I did indeed say you could use any resource available to you, but didn’t it cross your mind that this might be the wrong thing to do? I want to see the “real world” ability of a potential employee, not what they can recite in an interview but what they can come up with using their normal information sources to solve a problem or research a subject.

This has shown me that you won’t take the initiative to research a problem, even when it might land you a job. I “googled” most of these questions before making the list and most of them are very easily discovered. It didn’t seem to me that I was asking too much for people to use mailing lists, forums, IRC whatever to compile the answers themselves. I actually expected to see some questions show up on forums but I didn’t expect someone to paste the entire thing and expect the forum users to do all the work that would qualify you for an interview. I think at this point you could save us all some time and not turn the answers back in, I already have the information I need on your answers.

As far as the rest of you, if there are any of you reading this thread that live in the Nashville area that want a network administration job with some Linux work feel free to shoot me your resume at [please check original post for email address]. Oh, while you are at it, go ahead and send me the answers to the questions :)”

Yup, I think pwnd would definitely be the correct word here.

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