Diving into the world of Linux can sometimes appear to be overwhelming to the newcomer. While anything browser-based is essentially the same as it is in Windows, there are some stark differences once you take the plunge and install Linux for the first time.
While, in this author’s opinion, the best way to learn Linux is by simply using it as your daily driver, you may prefer to take a more structured approach by learning from an online course. With online education becoming ubiquitous in today’s world, there is no shortage of online resources that offer courses to take you from beginner to power user before you know it. Here are some of our favorites.
Founded by Harvard University and MIT in 2012, edX is a great source for not only learning Linux, but a huge variety of other subjects including programming and computer science. Prestigious universities from all over the world offer courses in one of the most popular Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) sites on the Internet. You can “audit” courses for free, or pay for an official certificate of completion for your course(s) of choice, which could potentially be valuable to a future employer. As for the Linux world, you may find the following courses to be quite beneficial and educational.
It may come as a bit of a shock to some, but YouTube actually has quite a bit more to offer than reaction videos and vloggers begging for likes and subs. Quite a bit of educational material is available on YouTube free-of-charge. So you could take all that time you’ve been spending watching cat videos and arguing about politics in the comments, and instead put it towards learning something! One of this author’s favorite YouTube Linux channels is LearnLinux.tv, ran by Jay LaCroix. He covers everything Linux related, including beginner and advanced tutorials, distro reviews, and even hardware reviews. He’s even written a few books! His tutorials in particular are definitely worth the watch, especially if you’re just learning your way around Linux. Check out the playlists on his channel to see all that he has to offer.
Another YouTube channel that this author has found useful is Eli the Computer Guy. His channel covers a wide variety of computer and IT topics, but his Linux playlist, in particular, is what you’re looking for. And while you’re there, maybe you can pick up a new set of skills along the way.
Of course, you can always just do a YouTube search for “learn Linux” and see what you can find.
Once you get the basics of Linux down and you want to move on to learning more about the command line and scripting, there’s a great YouTube series from The Bad Tutorials on Shell Scripting, meaning writing automated scripts using the default Linux bash shell.
A largely unknown yet super useful site, Cybrary contains a “cyber library” of all kinds of IT courses. The main focus of Cybrary is for IT Professionals who are seeking to expand their skill sets and obtain industry certifications. While Cybrary usually focuses on more advanced topics like Networking and Security, there are a few Linux courses available. They even offer training for the CompTIA Linux+ certification. These courses may not necessarily be geared towards the Linux newbie, but you may be able to come back here after getting the basics down to expand your knowledge further:
The Linux Foundation
The Linux Foundation provides all kinds of Linux pieces of training, from online training courses, in person at training centers in various locations around the world, or even at Linux Foundation events. They also offer Corporate Linux Training for companies who want to bring the experts to you. If you poke around The Linux Foundation’s website you’ll find some free training materials, specifically their training videos. They have other listings for free online learning, one of which includes an aforementioned edX course.
Linux Survival by Guy Hummel is another free online tutorial for learning the basics of Linux, and it even includes some quizzes for testing your comprehension of the topics after reading. He also offers a guide to becoming a Linux Administrator, if you’re looking to take your Linux knowledge into the professional realm.
While not actually Linux itself, Vim is a powerful and widely used terminal based text editor (although GUI versions are available, even for Windows) that is practically ubiquitous on Linux, regardless of distribution. However, despite it’s popularity and power, it is a bit quirky and has a bit of a learning curve. Once you get used to it, you’ll likely grow to thoroughly enjoy it, but the learning curve can be off putting to those who would rather just use something similar to Notepad. Learning Vim, or at least the basic operation of Vim, can be super useful when you need to create or edit configuration files, write some code, or even just write your own personal notes. Enter Vim Adventures, a browser-based game that teaches you how to use Vim by having you navigate your character through the 2D world using only the keys and functions of Vim. If only everything in life could be taught through educational games!
While more geared towards aspiring programmers, Codecademy does have a course on the Linux command line that the newcomer to Linux could definitely find useful. Most of the free courses on Codecademy just offer the basics of each subject while their paid courses go into more depth and detail, but the Command Line course is perfect for anyone who just wants to get a basic handle on how to Linux command line works. You’ll likely find it to be far more enjoyable than the Windows command line or even PowerShell. Just sign in with your existing Google account and start learning.
The Bash Academy
Again more aimed at teaching the Bash shell rather than Linux itself (similar to the aforementioned Shell Scripting course from The Bad Tutorials), Bash is the default shell used in most Linux distributions, so learning it and becoming proficient in it could be quite useful, especially in the professional realm where Scripting and Automation is king. The Bash Academy offers two different flavors of learning: the traditional textbook way called The Bash Guide, or another educational game aptly titled The Bash Game.
One of the most beneficial, if not underutilized, aspects of the internet is the wealth of free educational materials available. If your operating system was free, why pay money to learn how to use it? Although of course, donations to your organizations of choice are always helpful. In addition to all of the above mentioned educational resources, one final tip is to keep reading Linux blogs like LinuxAndUbuntu, as you never know what sorts of Linux tricks and tips you’ll come across.