Linux isn’t intrinsically more difficult to manage than other operating system, but it is different. There’s a learning curve, and that’s exaggerated if you’re a web designer or developer who wants to offer hosting services to your clients. Without the graphical interface provided by desktop Linux, you’re going to have to roll up your sleeves and get to grips with the command line. For a moderately technically proficient individual, it should be no problem to get the basics down fairly quickly, especially if you know the right place to look for your information.
Fortunately, there is no shortage of great resources for learning how to use a Linux server efficiently and competently. We’re going to highlight eight of the most useful resources that are great for new system administrators, but we’d be surprised if more experienced sysadmins don’t learn a thing or two as well.
If you’re really completely new to managing a Linux server, this guide will set you on the right path. It explains the basics of logging into your server using SSH from a Windows machine, how to navigate around the file directory, basic file management, and text editing.
William Shotts guide to the command line is rightly famous as a comprehensive resource for learning the Linux way. It starts off gently with explanations of how to use a shell efficiently, before presenting themes of increasing depth in a well-calibrated fashion. If you read it from end-to-end, you’ll know just about everything you could possible need to about the Linux command line. It also makes a great reference book for solving particular problems.
HowToForge provides dozens of articles on specific topics of interest to system administrators. They include basic content about managing specific distributions, including CentOS, as well as guides to setting up various web servers, DNS services, email, and databases.
Linux systems all have the man pages — the official documentation for command line programs —installed as a matter of course, so if you want to look at them you can always do a quick:
However, it’s often useful to have a off-server way of accessing man pages, on your tablet or phone for example.
The Linux Document Project has long been a excellent source of information for system administrators. Their introductory text covers everything from file and process management to networking primers and backup techniques.
Linux server security can be a complex topic, but this guide makes pretty light work of firewall configuration and Linux services. It provides a basic understanding of the security issues system administrators need to aware of.
This is a useful set of videos from Stanford that provide a good introduction to Grep, regular expressions, and various other aspects of the command line and shell scripting.
Be aware, these videos don’t use the standard Bash shell that most distributions have as their default, instead they use Zsh, which is well worth a look at, as it adds some nifty extra features.
Last, but certainly not least, Stack Exchange is a very high quality question-and-answer site where you’ll find master system administrators answering questions. If you have a problem, chances are someone else has asked about it already on Stack Exchange.
This is only a small selection of the Linux educational content out there, so feel free to chip in a few suggestions of your own in the comments.