Want to learn Linux System Administration

I know little to nothing regarding the Linux operating system but would like to. I'd like to legally download a free version of Linux that I could install and work with. I'm not looking for a desktop OS but rather a server OS because I want to learn Linux administration. Anyhow, of all the distributions out there, which would be the best to learn? Bear in mind I didn't say easiest, but rather the best. Thanks.
mcpp661Asked:
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John-Charles-HerzbergCommented:
This is the book I used and love it.

Sams Teach Yourself UNIX System Administration in 24 Hours (Sams Teach Yourself in 24 Hours)

http://www.amazon.com/Teach-Yourself-System-Administration-Hours/dp/0672323982
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fosiul01Commented:
you can chose
Centos or debian.

Centos is a copy of Redhat

Debian and ubuntu are same .

basic is same for both Version ..
but commands are little bit different ..

example
centos use yum , debian you apt-get


both Centos and debian has their Desktop ( I mean GNOME)
but as an Admin, you really dont want to use GNOME,
you have to be good in command line ..

so get some book, download either Centos or debian ..

and start reading and practice ..
its not that hard .. people think linux is hard

but Its not ..
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legolasthehansyCommented:
Red Hat is a widely popular OS. A mirror OS to Red Hat is CentOS (www.centos.org) which you can download and install on a machine.
There is a lot to learn on Linux Administration (as like anything for that matter).
You can start with downloading the OS and installing it on your own (without the graphical installer) which is itself a good learning curve although it is much easier to do now.
Next try configuring services on it by reading online sites. Try doing some Linux certifications.
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Kerem ERSOYPresidentCommented:
Hi,

First of all, You can download any Linux distro from the internet. It should be free. Some come with a support contract and you're entitled to their support and updates only with a valid contract. But apart from that I don't think using any distro as it is available over the net is not illegal. This being said you can start with a Server distro such as  Scientific Linux or CentOS which are both derived from Red Hat Enterprise Linux or you can start with a Clent user firendly distro such as Ubuntu or Fedora. There are plenty of help over the internet for both kinds.

When it comes to learn I'll suggest you this book. This is free and open:
http://tldp.org/LDP/sag/html/index.html

You might like to take a look at this one too: http://linux.about.com/od/nwb_guide/a/gdenwb_idx.htm

I'll Suggest you to deide any of the approaches I've mentioned above and start hands-on experimenting too along with the documents.

Cheers,
K.
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maeltarCommented:
On top of what has already been posted, install VirtualBox (https://www.virtualbox.org/), which is a virtual machine environment (Like VMWare, but free), install a flavour of Linux, use it, break it fix it, DOCUMENT what you do and methods you use, the beauty is, on your initial build, take a snapshot, then if you break it totally, you can just trash it use the snapshot and you do not have to worry about spending an hour re-installing.

Use and experiance cannot be replaced with reading a book, they run hand in hand, get some books, and a system to practice on, lots of coffee and prepare for lots of hours learning/breaking/building/swearing..

Hope it goes well..

S
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madunixCommented:
Get Centos http://www.centos.org/

LHN, HTF will give you a good picture about Linux
http://www.linuxhomenetworking.com/
http://www.howtoforge.com/
http://www.linux.org/lessons/
http://linuxsurvival.com/
http://linux.die.net/
http://www.cheat-sheets.org/#Linux

Keep yourself updated with http://www.linux-magazine.com/  and http://www.linuxjournal.com/

Try to use Linux as much as you can, troubleshooting it on daily basis
http://trouble-maker.sourceforge.net/  Its good practice, generates problem descriptions.

A collection of Unix/Linux/BSD commands and tasks which are useful for IT work or for advanced users..  http://cb.vu/unixtoolbox.xhtml

Check out the http://beginlinux.com/  they got a got CBT for linux and other Open source packages.
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mcpp661Author Commented:
Every comment was helpful so I'm going to award points to all posters. Thank you all for your suggestions.
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maeltarCommented:
Thank you for the points and good luck..
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