Linux is an operating system that has been around since the 1990s. It powers most modern technologies that we use today such as Android devices, televisions, cameras, and even smart appliances. This guide will show you how to learn Linux and the real-world applications of this open-source operating system.
Learning Linux is a great way to boost your resume as it is a must-have skill, especially if you are looking to explore a programming career. According to the Linux Foundation 2021 report, Linux is the second most sought-after skill by open source hiring managers. Let’s go over several tips that can help you learn Linux, even as a beginner.
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What Is Linux?
Before we dive into the operating system, we should first understand what Linux is. It is a kernel upon which many operating systems, such as Ubuntu and Arch Linux, are built. It is open source which means you can read the code associated with the kernel. The Linux kernel was released in 1991 by Linus Torvalds.
Linux was designed as an updated version of the UNIX OS software, which Torvalds thought needed to be improved. After his suggestions were ignored, he decided to create his own operating system with all the features he needed. Over time, Linux has become ubiquitous and powers everything from modern phones to smart devices.
If you have ever wondered about the process that enables applications, websites, or games to run on your computer or smartphone, the answer is an operating system that allows you to use the hardware. Linux is just one example of today’s most popular operating systems.
Why Should You Learn Linux?
The answer to why you should learn Linux is that it is a must-know technology with a wide range of applications. It is used for embedded systems, mobile phones, and servers, among others. Even the Career Karma website is hosted on a Linux server.
Linux and its various versions are widely used in the technology industry. As such, some basic experience with Linux would let employers know that you are capable of navigating and customizing an open source operating system should they need it to solve a specific business problem. If you want to become a system administrator, knowing Linux is almost essential.
But, even if you’re not interested in systems administration, knowing Linux can still be helpful. With a working knowledge of Linux, you’ll be able to navigate the command line more effectively. This will assist you in a wide range of technical environments. You’ll also have a better understanding of how computers work.
How Long Does it Take to Learn Linux?
How long it takes to learn Linux depends on your intended purpose. You can expect to learn it within a few days if you use Linux as your main operating system. You will develop stronger Linux proficiency if you spend a couple of hours a day for a few weeks.
Learning how to use the Linux command line is a different story. Expect to spend a few weeks learning basic commands. Then, there is a whole world of more complex commands to master. Expect to spend around six months learning about more advanced commands and the system architecture.
It will take you a shorter period of time to learn Linux if you’ve already worked with a Linux system before. These include the Raspberry Pi and macOS, both of which are built upon Linux operating system distributions.
What Is Linux Used For?
If you’re wondering what Linux is used for, the simple answer is that it powers other operating systems and software. As an operating system, Linux can bridge the gap between regular programs, such as word processors, and the hardware that runs those programs. Its open-source nature allows you to use, modify, customize, and redistribute the source code for free.
There are also many Linux operating systems that work as desktop environments. Ubuntu is one example. These operating systems let you use Linux as an alternative to another system like Windows or macOS.
Other Linux operating systems are written for tinkering. The Raspberry Pi, for instance, uses Raspbian. It is used for embedded systems applications, robotics, and other computer engineering tasks. Linux even powers the Android operating system, with over two billion devices in the world. These examples barely scratch the surface of what you can do with Linux.
Is Linux Hard to Learn?
Linux is not hard to learn. The more experience you have using modern technology, the easier you’ll find it to master the basics of Linux. You can learn the basic Linux commands in a few days but it will likely take a few weeks to become more familiar with these commands. More advanced commands may take years for full mastery.
The Linux command line is known for the degree of customization it supports. As a result, you’ll find no shortage of unique combinations for commands and new distributions of Linux. But, you don’t need to know how to use all the advanced commands to build a good understanding of Linux.
If you come from using macOS, you’ll find it easier to learn Linux. This is because macOS is based on UNIX. UNIX incorporates many of the same principles as Linux. You’ll find cross-overs between these two technologies.
Linux is “Open Source.” What Does That Mean?
Linux is open source in that its source code can be publicly accessed. Linux was released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) which means anyone can run Linux for any purpose. This is one of the main reasons Linux has become so prominent.
Because Linux is open source, anyone can study how it works or create their own copy of a Linux system. The term “Linux” itself is trademarked by Torvalds and the source code for the main project is under copyright.
How to Learn Linux Fast
Learning Linux is a great use of your time. You can use Linux to create open source projects or build a custom solution for your organization, making it an essential tool for developers. In this section, we will show you how to learn Linux fast. We will also explore the basic skills you need to acquire and some credible sources you can use.
Building Your Linux Skills
Before you start building advanced applications for Linux or installing complex software, you’ll need to master the basics of Linux skills. While it can be intimidating at first, once you start working in a Linux environment, you’ll get used to how Linux works fast. The first step in your journey is to learn the fundamentals of Linux.
The Structure of Linux
First, you need to know the Linux structure. You should familiarize yourself with the basic components of the operating system, how Linux works, and how different components fit together. Here are a few topics you should explore to gain a firmer understanding of the Linux structure:
- The role of the bootloader, kernel, graphical server, and desktop environment
- Why operating systems are important
- How Linux compares to other operating systems like Windows
- What is a Linux distribution?
Navigating the File System
One of the most basic Linux skills is navigating around the file system. To do so, you need to learn the command line. A command line is a tool that allows you to interact with a computer using a terminal. The alternative is a graphical user interface, which is what you typically see when you boot up macOS or Windows. Here are the main commands you’ll need to learn:
- ls (list files)
- pwd (get current directory)
- cd (change directory)
- mkdir (create directory)
- touch (create file)
- nano (update file)
Changing the File System
Next, you need to know how to change information in the file system. You should learn how to move, delete, and update multiple files using wildcards. Here are a few of the top commands and topics you should learn about:
- What are Ext2 Ext3 Ext4 file systems
- How to change the file system without formatting
- How to create and convert Linux file systems
- How to perform disk partitioning
Configuring Your Environment
When you launch Linux, a new terminal session will be created which loads all the preferences you have set. You should know how to customize this session based on your particular needs. Here are the main topics you should learn about so you can effectively configure your development environment:
- Bash profiles
- Launching new sessions
- HOME and PATH
- Environmental variables
Linux Input and Output
You should be able to redirect inputs and outputs to different files and parts of the operating system. Here are the main topics related to input and output with which you should become familiar with:
- stdin, stdout, stderr
- > and >>
- < and |
Bash, or shell, scripting allows you to automate similar tasks and batch together commands into a single file. Bash scripts execute in a Bash Linux terminal. Here are the main topics related to bash scripting that you should learn about:
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- Creating a Bash file
- Loops and conditionals
- Accepting user input
Users and Permissions
Linux offers a wide range of user and permission settings. These ensure that only the right users can access specific files and folders on a computer. Here are the main topics you should learn about when it comes to users and permissions:
- What is a user
- How to create a user
- What is a group
- How to create and update a group
- Read, write, and execute file permissions
These are just a glimpse into what you should study when learning Linux. The operating system is so advanced that we cannot possibly list everything you need to know in one article. The above topics constitute the bulk of working with Linux and learning them will give you a good sense of its fundamentals
Where to Learn Linux Online
Due to its ubiquity, there is no shortage of resources to learn Linux online. This is a good thing, but it can be difficult to choose the best resources. This section offers a list of Linux online courses that can help you gain a new set of timeless skills.
Online Linux Courses
Linux online courses are a great option for people looking for a remote, flexible program. You can find a variety of offerings online including Linux courses for beginners. Some of them are also free, making them highly accessible to all Linux newcomers. Let’s look at the list below.
Linux Mastery: Master the Linux Command Line in 11.5 Hours
- Cost: $60.00
- Audience: Beginners
This Linux online course features over 11 hours of material and 14 downloadable resources. In this course, you’ll cover the basics of the command line. By the end of this course, you’ll have built the skills you need to operate a Linux computer solely from the command line.
Learn Linux in 5 Days
- Cost: $60
- Audience: Beginners
This course is a quick introduction to the basics of Linux. You’ll learn about the fundamentals of Linux and how it works. This course comes with 68 downloadable resources to accompany your learning.
Free Linux Courses
Following online training courses is a good way to learn Linux because they combine different methods of learning. In most courses, you’ll be able to watch videos, read articles, and participate in different activities. This will help you understand and retain the course material. Here are some of our top picks for free Linux courses.
Introduction to Linux
- Audience: Beginners
This free Linux course is offered by the Linux Foundation. It covers crucial Linux topics like the graphical interface and command line found in popular Linux distributions. Expect to spend 60 hours on study materials across 18 chapters. You can also opt for a paid certificate of completion if you wish. This course is also available in Spanish.
The “Start From Scratch” Linux Course
- Audience: Beginners
This free online course is offered by Cisco Networking Academy in partnership with NDG. This is a great option for beginners as it only requires eight hours of study time. Upon completion, you will be able to understand the basics of Linux Command Line Interface (CLI) and determine if a career in Linux is right for you.
Fundamentals of Red Hat Enterprise Linux
- Audience: Beginners
You will learn how to perform basic system administration tasks in this free Linux course. It is self-paced and offered by Red Hat in collaboration with edX. You will cover eight chapters in eight hours, going over topics like command lines, Linux user management, and text files.
Online Linux Books
Books are a great way to learn more about Linux and its architecture. Good Linux books will help you understand the subject and give you a deeper insight into crucial topics. Here are a few books that will help you improve your understanding of Linux.
Linux for Beginners by Jason Cannon
Linux for Beginners was written for an audience who has no experience using Linux. This book will walk you through, step-by-step, the fundamentals of the Linux operating system. You’ll learn everything from what a Linux distribution is to how to edit text files.
How Linux Works by Brian Ward
How Linux Works is a comprehensive guide to the Linux operating system. You’ll learn about the architecture behind Linux and how to write your own Linux shell scripts. This book is one of the best Linux books for beginners, especially those who are looking to build a solid understanding of the operating system.
Linux Pocket Guide: ELinux Pocket Guide: Essential Commands by Daniel J. Barre
This book is a reference guide to popular Linux commands. It is a great book for beginners who are still learning about basic commands, but it will serve you even as you advance your knowledge. In this book, you can expect to find commands covering topics like processing files, remote storage, installing software, and piping.
Linux tutorials online can help you learn more about working with the operating system. A good Linux basics tutorial should walk you through a specific process or concept that you struggle with. Some prefer online tutorials over other resources because you get to pause, skip, rewatch, or reread the guide as many times as needed. Here are some suggestions:
- Linux/UNIX Tutorial
- Linux Command Line (BASH) Tutorial
- Everything You Need to Know About Linux
- Linux Tutorial for Beginners: Introduction to Linux Operating System
- The Linux Command Line for Beginners
Online Linux Resources
There are a lot of online resources for learning Linux geared toward helping beginners develop a better understanding of core Linux concepts. Some resources may be more comprehensive than others, depending on the topic or your area of interest. The section below highlights three online resources for learning Linux.
Learning the Shell
Learning the Shell is a guide to writing shell scripts. You’ll find resources on how to move around the operating system, how to redirect inputs and outputs, managing permissions, and more.
Getting Started with Linux and Ubuntu by MakeUseOf
This guide introduces you to the fundamentals of Linux. It was written for people who want to run Linux on their personal computers. You’ll learn about different distributions, their advantages, and how to choose a distro.
Command Line for Beginners by Ubuntu
Ubuntu, the creators of the popular Linux operating system Ubuntu Linux, has a tutorial on their website that covers basic command line commands. In this tutorial, you’ll cover everything from creating files to how “sudo” works.
How to Learn Linux: Top Tips
The best way to learn Linux is by choosing a training path that suits your personal learning style. If you are dedicated to mastering Linux, you can also combine two or more resources as different platforms offer different ways to tackle the operating system. This can help round out your skills. Here are our top five tips on how you can learn Linux effectively.
Go to a Coding Bootcamp
Coding bootcamps are employment-focused training programs designed to teach you the skills you need to pursue a career in the technology industry. A Linux bootcamp is a faster, more comprehensive way to hone your skills. Some may have individual Linux concentrations but many teach Linux as part of other courses such as web development.
Some of the best Linux bootcamps include Yellow Tail Tech, TechPro Education, and Open Cloud Academy. There are also bootcamps that offer free online programs that cover Linux such as Clarusway and Fullstack Academy.
Learn by Doing
Books and online courses are good sources of information. But, there is no substitute for working with a Linux operating system to accomplish a goal. The best way to learn more about Linux is to practice.
Apply the skills you have learned by trying out different commands and navigating the operating system. This will let you build up a better idea of how specific commands can be used. Create files and mess around with permissions. Experimentation lies at the heart of learning Linux. The operating system is very versatile and there is a lot to explore.
Set a Goal
As you continue learning Linux, you may find it useful to set concrete goals. Suppose you want to set up a web server using Linux. You could decide that you’re going to focus on learning about Nginx and Apache. These are both used for hosting web servers on Linux. These goals will guide you and keep you on track as you learn about Linux.
If you’re struggling with motivation, remind yourself of why you wanted to learn Linux in the first place. Did you want to build a web server? Were you looking to host your own file server? Perhaps you wanted to learn how to set up a database on your computer. Once you’ve reminded yourself of what motivates you, you can use it to guide what goals you set for yourself.
Here are a few ideas as you start to learn Linux:
- Create a personal cloud server
- Create a file server
- Create a web server
- Create a media center
- Create a home automation system using a Raspberry Pi
- Deploy the LAMP stack
- Create a backup file server
- Configure a firewall
- Create a proxy server
Because Linux is an operating system, there is no limit to what you can build. Try to take on a simple project to begin with, such as deploying the LAMP stack. This will help you practice your command line skills while giving you a clear goal to work toward. When you feel more comfortable navigating Linux, you can take on a bigger project. For instance, you could set up a proxy server or cluster two or more computers together into one.
Join a Developer Community
Learning Linux is not a journey you should take alone. It’s easy to give up when you see an intimidating error, or if you encounter a problem that you cannot solve.
Do some research into developer communities and join one or two. These communities are great places to meet new developers and discuss the latest best practices relevant to the topics you are learning about.
Here are a few of the top communities for people who use Linux:
- LinuxQuestions.org: Linux Questions is a questions-and-answers community specifically for Linux, and is one of the most active Linux communities on the web.
- StackOverflow: StackOverflow is also a questions-and-answers community with years worth of Linux-related questions.
- UbuntuForums.org: The Ubuntu Forums are great places for users of the Ubuntu operating system to come together and talk.
- Dev.to: Dev.to is a community of developers who talk about programming and share ideas. Dev.to has a forum thread exclusively for discussions related to Linux.
- DigitalOcean Tutorials: This site has thousands of tutorials on coding and Linux that are great for beginners and experts.
After joining a developer community, spend some time learning about its culture. When ready, try to contribute as much as possible. If you see a question you know the answer to, post a response; if you have a question, post it.
Practice Your Linux Skills
The Linux operating system is huge. The only way you’ll master it is by practicing as often as you can. The more you practice, the better you’ll get!
At first, using Linux can feel overwhelming. An essential part of learning Linux is working with the command line. The command line does not look as aesthetically pleasing as the traditional desktop user interface. But, the more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll be using the command line.
If you’re looking for ways to practice your Linux skills, here are a few suggestions:
- Follow online tutorials. There are a number of great online tutorials out there. These tutorials guide you through everything from using the command line to creating your own file server. If you’re looking to practice your skills, take on a tutorial and build something based on the steps in that tutorial.
- Read Linux magazines or publications. The Linux community is incredibly active. One great way to practice your skills is to stay in the loop with the latest goings-on such as new system updates. When you see an opportunity to learn something new, take it.
- Build a project. You can also commit to building a larger project, like creating a movie server or a cloud computing cluster. Think about what problem you want to solve using Linux, then try to build a project that solves that problem.
Practice as much as you can, and before you know it, you’ll be a master at working with the Linux operating system.
How Can I Start Using Linux?
There’s a strong chance you already use software that runs on Linux every day. Being able to navigate through a Linux operating system will give you a greater understanding of how computers work. In addition, you can also use your Linux skills such as using the command line to help you when you’re coding. This section will focus on how to start with Linux.
To get started with Linux and enhance your professional skills, choose and install the operating system you want to run. There are thousands of distributions out there like Ubunto, Fedora, or Elementary OS. These operating systems are widely supported and good for beginners.
If you are not comfortable installing Linux on your main machine, you can install it on an older device or a cheap computer such as a Raspberry Pi. This takes less of a commitment and allows you to start using Linux at your own pace.
To sum it all up, here are the top steps you should follow to learn how to use Linux fast:
- Find the right learning resources
- Master the fundamentals
- Explore the operating system
- Build a project
- Join a developer community
- Practice and refine your skills
By following these steps, you’ll be on a great path to learning how to use the Linux operating system. After you’ve learned the basics, you can always upskill and expand your knowledge by utilizing other resources that we have included in this guide.
How to Learn Linux FAQ
Linux is worth learning because it is a core technology that powers most modern innovations today. An in-depth Linux understanding would boost your technical skills and employability. It can also show employers that you are proficient in using an open source operating system, which may just be useful when developing an organization-specific software or program.
Is Linux easy to learn?
Linux is easy to learn especially for people with some experience in technology. There are also other resources to help beginners learn Linux easily which include coding bootcamps, online resources, free tutorials, and books. Depending on the level of mastery you wish to achieve, learning Linux could take anywhere from several weeks to years.
Can I learn Linux on Raspberry Pi?
Yes. Learning Linux on Raspberry Pi is actually common for beginners considering how affordable and accessible it is. To start learning Linux with Raspberry Pi, you would need to install Raspbian, a Linux version for the device. Then, you can begin to experiment with the command line, otherwise known as the terminal.
What is the best Linux distro to learn from?
The best Linux distro is highly dependent on your skill level or intended purpose. The most common Linux distro for programming includes Ubuntu, Linux Mint, Linux Lite, Peppermint OS, Elementary OS, and Manjaro Linux. These are especially popular among beginners due to their convenience, community support, and familiarity.
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