How to Learn Linux

by Priyanka Sarangabany | Jul 19, 2019

Two penguins look like they're talking with the words, "Can you teach me Linux?"There’s no doubt that Linux is quickly becoming a powerful force in the IT industry. In fact, you’re probably using Linux without even knowing it! From smartphones and home media centers to smart thermostats and in-car GPS systems, this open-source operating system is quietly running nearly all supercomputers and cloud servers that power our daily lives.

With such a significant impact on the computing industry, it’s easy to understand why Linux has become a core skill for IT professionals.

Why Is Linux So Prevalent?

There are multiple reasons why Linux is considered one of the most diverse and powerful operating systems in the world. To understand why Linux is loved by many, it is important to identify its defining characteristics.

  • Open Source: As Denise Dumas, the vice president of software engineering and operating systems at Red Hat, said in a recent CompTIA webinar about Linux, “Open source is a place where innovation ferments and happens.” When software is released under an open source license, people can view and build upon the software’s original source code. This feature encourages software developers to adopt Linux and apply their own improvements to the code. As result, Linux’s public domain drives constant evolution and advancement.
  • UNIX-Like System: Linux behaves in a similar manner to a Unix system. This means that the operating system relies on multiple parts/programs that carry out specific jobs collectively. This is a fundamental principle of good system design and is at the core of what makes Linux so great.
  • Stable: As a public domain that is constantly evolving, Linux remains an incredibly secure operating system. In the words of Eric S. Raymond, “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow.” Linux’s general public license allows a plethora of software developers to rapidly identify issues in code and just as quickly respond to fix the errors.
  • Free: Linux is priceless. Literally! The underlying software of Linux has been free to download and install since its creation. For this reason, Linux remains one of the most accessible, diverse operating systems to this day.

Essential Linux Skills

But what skills do you need to understand how to navigate around a Linux system? Starting first with a desire to learn, you can begin improving upon the following skills:

  • Service Configuration: The ability to plan, establish, and maintain a consistent system life cycle to ensure a healthy system
  • Scripting/Development: The ability to write code using command languages and programming languages, such as Bash or Python
  • Security: The ability to protect a Linux system from malicious hackers
  • Troubleshooting: The ability to leverage different Linux commands to identify and fix bugs
  • Soft Skills: The ability to problem solve, communicate, work in teams, etc.

How to Learn Linux

It’s never been a better time to begin exploring Linux. Over the years, companies such as Red Hat have put effort toward making system administration and development easier to master. In turn, today’s Linux graphical user interfaces (GUIs) are highly functional and significantly less intimidating.

To begin your journey through the Linux space, you will have to make a few choices:

  1. Choose a Linux Distribution: Linux is not developed by a single entity, so there are multiple different distributions (distros) that can take code from Linux open-source projects and compile it for you. Since these distros choose your default software (desktop environment, browser, etc.), all that’s left for you to do is boot up and install.
  2. Choose a Virtualization Solution: Linux virtualization is used to isolate your operating systems so you can run multiple virtual machines on one physical machine, and in turn save time, money and energy on maintaining multiple physical servers. Some popular selections include VMWare, VirtualBox (Oracle) and Hyper-V (Microsoft).
  3. Set Up Your Linux Play Space and Explore: Once you log in to your virtualization environment, you can start learning and practicing. The best way to become comfortable with Linux is to jump in and get your hands dirty.

Ready to take your Linux experience to the next level? Learn from the experience of others and consider getting an IT certification like CompTIA Linux+.

  • Find a Mentor: Though the Linux community is incredibly diverse, there is one thing that all Linux users have in common: they LOVE Linux. Develop a relationship with an experienced Linux user to not only gain valuable insight on Linux topics, but also discover the source of their passion!
  • Join a Linux Study Group: Speaking of community, it’s important to realize that you’re not alone as a Linux beginner! As the open-source operating system gains popularity, multiple IT pros are converting to Linux daily. Seek out forums, study groups and other learning opportunities to develop your skills alongside others.
  • Get Certified: There’s no better way to boost your confidence and prove your understanding of Linux than becoming Linux+ certified. Preparing for CompTIA’s Linux+ certification exam will help you fill gaps of knowledge and validate your Linux skills.

Learn more about the new CompTIA Linux+ and download the exam objectives to get started. 


  • Chris Iroanya

    Friday, July 26, 2019

    Very insightful, many thanks.

  • Reuben Birma

    Friday, July 26, 2019

    Am in love with Ubuntu, and am interested in learning and becoming an expert in Linux. So advice me. Thanks

  • Lunga

    Friday, July 26, 2019

    Very informative...Thanks

  • Net

    Friday, July 26, 2019

    What is the best Linux OS to start with as a beginner?

  • Jonas

    Monday, August 5, 2019

    The problem is the Cloud is taking over, even though it is somewhat essential for anyone within the IT Industry to be very proficient with the Linux operatinflg sytem. Sys admin is slowly becoming an obsolete proffession, Dev Ops, and Cloud is the future.

  • Monday, August 5, 2019

    Hi, Jonas! Thanks for your comment. Did you know that Linux skills can help you in cloud, IoT and DevOps roles? Even though IT is moving to the cloud, Linux is not going away and is, in fact, growing in demand. Check out this article about Linux and DevOps:

  • RJ

    Friday, August 16, 2019

    But what is running in the Cloud and running the Cloud itself? More and more it's Linux VMs/ECs and Linux based hardware. As Cloud server farms/data centers are springing up everywhere, what is the primary OS used to drive the compute and storage hardware? Looks like it's primarily some flavor of Linux. So while the Cloud is definitely taking over, it appears that the Cloud is resting squarely on the shoulders of Linux. Making Linux probably the most relevant OS to learn. At least for now. Says the guy who doesn't know much Linux... LOL

  • Oludayo

    Friday, August 16, 2019

    Thanks for the directions and way to go about learning Linux

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