How to Learn Linux

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If you're an aspiring software engineer, you've probably heard of Linux, the open-source family of operating systems (OS). Linux is increasingly popular, especially among smaller firms. Linux skills can give you a leg up in pursuing a coding or IT career. But how do you learn Linux?

Generally, there are two ways to learn Linux on its own, as opposed to as part of a broader computer science course: You can learn Linux online, or through a coding bootcamp. Both methods have ups and downs, so check out our guide to discover which is right for you.

Coding Bootcamps

Coding bootcamps have been getting more and more attention over the past few years. These are short, intensive courses in a particular coding or tech skill. Many coding bootcamps are offered full time over several months and can be expensive, but they are one of the most intensive ways to learn Linux and other tech skills. Look for coding bootcamps with a proven record of placing their graduates in lucrative jobs after graduation.

Find the Right Coding Bootcamp For You

Online Courses

Online courses are great in terms of customization and flexibility. You can find courses of various lengths and prices. They can be completed on your own time, from the comfort of your own home. There are even free options, which are often ideal for beginners.

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux Technical Overview: This Udemy course is available directly from Red Hat, one of the largest Linux companies. It's geared toward beginners and has a 4.3-star rating. Best of all, it's completely free.
  • Learning Linux for LFCA Certification Specialization: This well-ranked Coursera class is aimed at Linux beginners and builds toward gaining a certification, which can be helpful in future job markets. The course is free to start, and financial aid is available.
  • Linux and Private Cloud Administration on IBM Power Systems Specialization: This Coursera course, aimed at an intermediate audience who already has IT experience, will train you in IBM systems and how to administer Linux in a private cloud setting. It has 4.8-star rating.
  • Learn Linux on a Mac: Another free option from Udemy, this course is ideal for those interested in learning Linux, but already own a computer that runs macOS. This course will get you started without forcing you to invest in expensive new equipment.
  • Linux Command Line Basics: Udemy's best-selling Linux course is a reasonably-priced introductory course to Linux. It covers the basics and fundamentals, geared toward those with zero-to-limited prior knowledge.

Online Courses vs. Bootcamps

Online Courses
Pros Cons
  • Can be completed on your own time and at your own pace
  • Many low-cost or free options
  • Options for a wide range of experience levels
  • No instructors to go to with questions or concerns
  • A self-paced online course can require good self-discipline and time management skills
  • Many online courses only offer limited aspects of training in a given program
Pros Cons
  • Access to specialized instructors
  • You can research each bootcamp's reputation and where their graduates end up
  • Some bootcamps offer job guarantees or allow you to start for free
  • Can be prohibitively expensive
  • Often time-consuming, especially for those who are already employed
  • It may be hard to distinguish high-quality bootcamps

Coding Bootcamps to Learn Linux

Yellowtail Tech

  • Locations: Remote; Silver Spring, MD
  • Program Cost: Varies
  • Learning Formats: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Yellowtail is a bit of a newcomer on the bootcamp scene, but offers a Linux course geared toward working professionals. "Linux for Jobs" is designed for people looking to start a career in IT and teaches students foundational skills. Speak to a team member about the course, and pricing and finance options.


  • Locations: Remote; McLean, VA
  • Program Cost: $999
  • Learning Formats: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time

Career Services
Evening & Weekend Options

Clarusway's 14-week intensive courses are designed to make their students into software engineers in several specialties. With classes in cloud engineering, data science, and full-stack development, and payment plans including income sharing, Clarusway offers flexible options for all kinds of students.

Clarusway offers a free 40-hour online mini bootcamp for those just starting out.

Holberton School

  • Locations: Remote; Tulsa, OK; New Haven, CT
  • Program Cost: $40,000
  • Learning Formats: Online; In Person
  • Time Commitment: Full Time

Holberton is a full-time, intensive bootcamp that offers courses exclusively in broad-reaching subjects. While there is no Linux-specific option, students can learn foundational aspects of software engineering and coding, including full-stack web development.

A more expensive option, Holberton heavily emphasizes project-based learning.

Fullstack Academy

  • Locations: Remote; New York, NY
  • Program Cost: $14,500
  • Learning Formats: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time, Part Time

Start for Free
Career Services
Evening & Weekend Options

With a fully online format and evening and weekend options, Fullstack can be a convenient option wherever you are in your career. Fullstack also partners with several colleges, making it a good choice for undergraduate students.

According to Fullstack, their software engineering graduates' earned a median of $85,200 in 2019.

Code Fellows

  • Locations: Remote; Seattle, WA
  • Program Cost: $99 and up
  • Learning Formats: Online
  • Time Commitment: Full Time

Accepts GI Bill®
Career Services
CIRR Member

If you're looking for proven results and value for your money, Code Fellows may be the perfect option. With courses starting under $100, Code Fellows has programs to suit every budget. Moreover, as a Council on Integrity in Results Reporting (CIRR) member, Code Fellows' outcomes are tracked and studied.

According to 2016 data from CIRR, 80% of Code Fellows graduates had full-time employment in the field 180 days after graduating.

Linux Jobs

Software Engineer

With many smartphone apps utilizing Linux and related Android software, software engineers who know Linux are in high demand. Engineers help develop and alter new software, ensuring that code runs smoothly.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $110,140

IT Manager

As an IT manager, you'll be the one people turn to when something is acting unusual in a given piece of technology. Your knowledge of Linux may make you eligible for more specialized, high-level IT jobs, which often pay higher salaries.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $151,150

Systems Administrator

Similar IT managers, systems administrators ensure that existing systems are running smoothly. For a Linux specialist, this can mean managing a complex network of systems across a program or app used worldwide.

Median Annual Salary (May 2021): $84,810

What Are the Benefits of Linux Certification?

While a hiring manager may be glad to hear you're familiar with Linux, certification can make you stand out. As there aren't Linux-specific undergraduate programs, certification can be a stand-in for a degree-like qualification, proving that your knowledge of Linux is up to a certain standard. This can help you get a job, ask for a raise, or get promoted into a role where knowledge of Linux is crucial.

Frequently Asked Questions About Learning Linux

What is Linux and why is it used?

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Linux is an open-source family of software operating systems. Linux was named for its first creator, Linus Torvalds, who released the first "kernel" of Linux in 1991. Because Linux is open-source, anyone can use it and develop the code from the ground up, making it great for smaller users and those with privacy concerns. Android, the operating system found in many smartphones, is based on Linux.

What is the difference between Windows and Linux?

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Windows is a commercial operating system owned by Microsoft. It is subject to Microsoft's decision-making under their intellectual property protection. To work with Windows, you will need to follow Microsoft's commercial rules, often paying for access to the code.

Linux is open-source, meaning everyone has access to the code and can work with it as they see fit without fear of violating copyright laws. While individual companies work with Linux, the "kernel" of the code itself is free for anyone.

Why do hackers use Linux?

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Hackers have often used Linux because, as mentioned above, it is open-source, meaning that individuals do not have to pay anyone for access to the code. Further, because Linux is open-source, many different people working independently from each other use it for different purposes with no central body overseeing the process. This means it can be difficult to track who is doing what with a given bit of Linux code -- which is often useful for hackers, who do not want to get caught.

Which Linux is best for beginners?

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Red Hat is often a good Linux for beginners because they offer free and lower-cost courses directly from their online team. However, many factors are relevant when deciding which Linux you should start with, including whether or not you already know other coding languages. If you are only just beginning to learn Linux or are brand new to computer science, do some cursory research before deciding on your beginner course.