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Learn Linux online

From network administration to providing a platform for programming, Linux has many uses. For those who want to work with Linux, there are many opportunities to learn Linux online and even earn a Linux certificate with courses delivered through edX.

What is Linux?

Linux is an operating system (OS), which is the software responsible for the communication between a computer’s software and hardware. Technically, the part of the operating system that’s actually called “Linux” is the kernel, which is the piece of software responsible for managing the computer’s core processing unit (CPU), and memory and peripheral devices like the monitor, keyboard, printer, etc. The original Linux kernel is open source, meaning that users can alter and redistribute its source code. But not every variation of Linux that followed took the open source path.¹

Linux comes in different variations known as projects or distributions. Some popular distributions of Linux include Debian, Fedora, Ubuntu, Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Oracle Enterprise Linux, and SUSE Linux Enterprise. Enterprise distributions are designed for corporate, business, or academic use, offering regular software updates and dedicated technical support to paying customers.²

Each distribution usually comes with the Linux kernel; a package management system, which is software used to manage installation, uninstallation, upgrading, and configuration of software; and different pieces of software that facilitate the interaction between the user and the software, like graphical user interfaces (GUI), means of editing and accessing code, and ways of connecting input, output, and storage devices.³

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Learn Linux with online courses and training

Someone with prior computer experience who wants to use a free, alternative operating system for basic tasks like word processing and internet browsing may be able to pick up Linux basics quite seamlessly, especially with an accessible Linux distribution that mimics the user experience of operating systems like Windows or the Mac OS.

If a professional wants to know how to learn Linux because they're interested in entry-level Linux jobs or even Linux careers, they can start by taking a paid or free Linux online course, or by running Linux on one of their devices. Learning Linux online is accessible because it has been around since 1991 and there are ample documentation and learning resources to help individuals find the best way to learn Linux. Additionally, because Linux has so many uses, learning Linux online can be an opportunity to narrow one’s focus beyond what’s learned in a Linux for beginners course.

Explore Linux jobs

Learning Linux commands and other Linux basics are requirements for any entry-level Linux job, but professionals can also benefit from a more specific Linux course. There are courses on developing software that’s run on Linux, writing the Linux code itself, network administration, which entails managing networks of computers and servers using Linux, and more. 

There are also many niche Linux careers. For example, given that many devices and networks run Linux, someone who wants to work in computer forensics, digging up the digital dirt used in cyber crimes can benefit from studying Linux. A Linux online course may also be an opportunity to earn a Linux certificate, even in a specific distribution of Linux, such as Red Hat or Oracle. Hiring managers may prefer applicants with a Linux certificate if they’re looking to fill roles that entail working exclusively with certain Linux distributions. Beyond standalone courses, there are degree programs that may touch on the basics of Linux. 

Many people’s journey into the field can start off with a bachelor’s degree program. Some might even choose to earn a master’s degree down the line to dive deep into the specifics of operating systems and their real-world applications.

How to become a Linux system administrator online

One of the most common Linux careers is Linux system administration, which involves managing an organization’s Linux setup.⁴ Linux administrator jobs entail installing, updating, backing up, and configuring Linux systems. Job duties may also include writing documentation and providing technical support. Sometimes, being a Linux system administrator is part of another role in the information technology department of an organization. It’s possible to start with entry-level Linux jobs and eventually run massive networks using Linux while managing other Linux system administrators. 

Learning Linux online is one way to prepare to apply for Linux administrator jobs. A Linux online course for Linux administration can be completed at one’s own pace and can end with a Linux certificate. In addition to Linux basics, Linux administrator jobs typically require an understanding of cloud technology, security, computer networking, and problem-solving, all of which are typically covered in an online Linux course. Interpersonal and presentation skills may also be helpful given that Linux administrator jobs are often collaborative and may require explaining things to others.⁵

While the path to becoming a Linux system administrator looks different for each person, some viable pathways outside of online Linux courses include earning a bachelor’s degree in computer or data science or an online master’s degree in data science or a related field.

Linux FAQ

Since Linux is an operating system, Linux has many uses. Linux is used to run all sorts of networks and devices. Knowing Linux is important for many technical jobs because a number of them are performed on machines that run Linux. Linux is also used as an operating system by people who are interested in free and open-source technology, and by Linux enthusiasts who prefer it over other operating systems.

It’s possible to learn Linux basics by reading articles, watching videos, or using apps. A learner can also take a paid or free online Linux course. Linux is accessible to learn because it’s available to download for free. It’s even possible to run Linux on a different operating system using a virtual machine, which is a program that runs operating systems in a dedicated window on a desktop. ⁶

The best way to learn Linux depends on the learning style and living situation of the learner and the eventual uses of Linux. A self-guided Linux for beginners course that provides an opportunity to learn Linux commands can be completed at one’s own convenience. And the possibility of getting a computer virus is quite rare so anti-virus software isn’t always necessary.⁷

It depends on an individual’s level of expertise. Learning Linux basics may not be too challenging for those with prior knowledge of computing. That’s because, depending on the Linux distribution, Linux mimics other common operating systems like the Mac OS or Windows. More advanced uses of Linux entail learning other skills, like programming or computer networking.

There are books and courses that promise to teach Linux in 24 hours or five days. These can be viable entryways to learning Linux basics. A Linux for beginners course that offers a more robust understanding of Linux basics can require students to commit to a couple of hours of study per week. Many courses also last a couple of weeks. It’s not uncommon for a Linux online course to end with a presentation of a Linux certificate. 

If someone has enough computer experience to find files, write documents, browse the internet, and download apps, they may be able to begin learning Linux. All that’s necessary is a device that can connect to the internet to get the learning materials and a program or mobile app that can run Linux. Linux doesn’t even need to be the primary operating system on the device.