The graphic user interface (GUI) makes computer tasks easier for those uncomfortable with the text-only terminal, or command line interface (CLI). It’s quicker and less prone to issues caused by typing mistakes. However, the CLI is more powerful (for those who can take full advantage of it) than the GUI which is a middle-man limited by buttons and specific character requirements.
You can complete many important tasks using cPanel and Webhost Manager (WHM). But during advanced troubleshooting, it’s helpful to know how to quickly solve issues with an SSH (Secure Shell) login and quick command instead of depending on cPanel, WHM, or external online tools which have their own potential vulnerabilities.
For example, instead of using whois.domaintools.com to check domain registration info, you can type
whois [your-domain.com]. Instead of logging into WordPress to manage plugins and users, you can use
WP CLI commands. Such SSH commands are less resource-intensive and, therefore, faster to execute.
Our servers only run Linux operating systems (OSs) – Red Hat-based CentOS or Debian-based Ubuntu Server (on our unmanaged Cloud VPS plans). Although the two distributions (distros) use some different commands, most commands you’ll use on your web server are the same regardless of your choice. Below are five free ways to learn more about Linux system administration (sysadmin) for your web server.
There are two courses I want to highlight to build a foundation for understanding Linux:
Introduction to Linux, by The Linux Foundation, is a great course for getting started with Linux. It covers Linux history, popular OSs / distros, basic CLI commands, Linux desktop GUI navigation, and open source alternatives for proprietary software like GIMP, Audacity, and kdenlive.
Fundamentals of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), by Red Hat themselves – the organization responsible for our primary distro, CentOS – covers admin tasks such as user management, processes, and file editing using the CLI. Learning such tasks in-depth can also help you prepare for Red Hat sysadmin certifications.
A year ago, a supervisor assigned me cPanel U courses to become a better tech support Representative (we’re hiring, by the way). The courses taught me a deeper understanding of how cPanel and WHM work with Linux processes. There are separate in-depth courses for cPanel, WHM, and sysadmin tasks.
Unlike the edX courses above, your ability to execute these advanced CLI commands from cPanel U on your web server will depend on your user permissions and whether you’re using a Shared, VPS, or Dedicated hosting plan.
CompTIA Linux + training goes in-depth with Linux system architecture, filesystems, admin tasks, and more. This is especially helpful for those looking for the knowledge to start a Linux sysadmin career. Even without going on to certify for Linux +, this is a good primer for more advanced certifications such as Red Hat Certified Engineer (RHCE) and Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).
Install Linux Locally
This can be a great challenge, but it’s worth the reward. Using Linux on your computer allows you to learn more about Linux tasks – e.g. monitoring resource usage with
htop – with the option of a GUI and open source software in general. Using Linux natively allows you to execute common DNS commands –
dig – using the terminal by typing Ctrl + Alt + T.
You don’t need to wipe your computer hard drive to install Linux locally. You can download Virtualbox virtual machine (VM) software to install an .iso image file from over 200 Linux distros listed on DistroWatch.com. Instead, I recommend you start with one of the most popular user-friendly options.
Fedora uses the same CLI and
yum app commands as our primary server OS, CentOS. It’s supported by the Fedora Project, owned by Red Hat, and preferred by many developers for it’s ease of use without extra addons that can be resource-intensive.
Ubuntu (Desktop) uses the same
apt commands as Ubuntu Server (available with our Cloud VPS Hosting) and DNS CLI commands as CentOS. It’s based on Debian, also available with our Cloud VPS Hosting plan, and is popular among novice and experienced Linux users wanting a fully featured stable distro. And because of it’s user-friendly
apt package manager, over 100 other specialized distros are built on and backwards-compatible with it. Notable examples include Mint Cinnamon, Zorin, and Ubuntu Studio.
You can try Ubuntu Desktop in your browser without installing anything at Tour.Ubuntu.com.
Our Support Center
We have many articles on Linux CLI navigation with Secure Shell (SSH). But keep in mind, many CLI tasks require root privileges only available with our VPS Hosting or Dedicated Hosting plans. This isn’t an issue if you’re using Linux locally.
Do you know any other free Linux training courses? Do you recommend another distro for those seeking an user-friendly Linux OS? Let us know below.