Brief: In this article, I’ll share with you the best resource to learn Linux for free. This is a collection of websites, online video courses and free eBooks.
How to learn Linux?
This is perhaps the most commonly asked question in our Facebook group for Linux users.
The answer to this simple looking question ‘how to learn Linux’ is not at all simple.
Problem is that different people have different meanings of learning Linux.
- If someone has never used Linux, be it command line or desktop version, that person might be just wondering to know more about it.
- If someone uses Windows as the desktop but have to use Linux command line at work, that person might be interested in learning Linux commands.
- If someone has been using Linux for sometimes and is aware of the basics but he/she might want to go to the next level.
- If someone is just interested in getting your way around a specific Linux distribution.
- If someone is trying to improve or learn Bash scripting which is almost synonymous with Linux command line.
- If someone is willing to make a career as a Linux SysAdmin or trying to improve his/her sysadmin skills.
You see, the answer to “how do I learn Linux” depends on what kind of Linux knowledge you are seeking. And for this purpose, I have collected a bunch of free Linux resources that you could use for learning Linux.
These free resources include eBooks, video courses, websites etc. And these are divided into sub-categories so that you can easily find what you are looking for when you seek to learn Linux.
If you are looking to build a career as a Linux SysAdmin, I recommend getting professional certification from The Linux Foundation, the organization that employs Linux creator Linus Torvalds. You can also check some inexpensive Linux courses on Udemy.
Again, there is no best way to learn Linux. It totally up to you how you go about learning Linux, by online web portals, downloaded eBooks, video courses or something else.
Let’s see how you can learn Linux.
Disclaimer: All the books listed here are legal to download. The sources mentioned here are the official sources, as per my knowledge. However, if you find it otherwise, please let me know so that I can take appropriate action.
1. Free materials to learn Linux for absolute beginners
So perhaps you have just heard of Linux from your friends or from a discussion online. You are intrigued about the hype around Linux and you are overwhelmed by the vast information available on the internet but just cannot figure out exactly where to look for to know more about Linux.
Worry not. Most of us, if not all, have been to your stage.
Introduction to Linux by Linux Foundation [Video Course]
If you have no idea about what is Linux and you want to get started with it, I suggest you to go ahead with the free video course provided by the Linux Foundation on edX. Consider it an official course by the organization that ‘maintains’ Linux. And yes, it is endorsed by Linus Torvalds, the father of Linux himself.
Linux Journey [Online Portal]
Not official and perhaps not very popular. But this little website is the perfect place for a no non-sense Linux learning for beginners.
The website is designed beautifully and is well organized based on the topics. It also has interactive quizzes that you can take after reading a section or chapter. My advice, bookmark this website:
Learn Linux in 5 Days [eBook]
This brilliant eBook is available for free exclusively to It’s FOSS readers all thanks to Linux Training Academy.
Written for absolute beginners in mind, this free Linux eBook gives you a quick overview of Linux, common Linux commands and other things that you need to learn to get started with Linux.
You can download the book from the page below:
The Ultimate Linux Newbie Guide [eBook]
This is a free to download eBook for Linux beginners. The eBook starts with explaining what is Linux and then go on to provide more practical usage of Linux as a desktop.
You can download the latest version of this eBook from the link below:
2. Free Linux eBooks for Beginners to Advanced
This section lists out those Linux eBooks that are ‘complete’ in nature.
What I mean is that these are like academic textbooks that focus on each and every aspects of Linux, well most of it. You can read those as an absolute beginner or you can read those for deeper understanding as an intermediate Linux user. You can also use them for reference even if you are at expert level.
Introduction to Linux [eBook]
Introduction to Linux is a free eBook from The Linux Documentation Project and it is one of the most popular free Linux books out there. Though I think some parts of this book needs to be updated, it is still a very good book to teach you about Linux, its file system, command line, networking and other related stuff.
Linux Fundamentals [eBook]
This free eBook by Paul Cobbaut teaches you about Linux history, installation and focuses on the basic Linux commands you should know. You can get the book from the link below:
Advanced Linux Programming [eBook]
As the name suggests, this is for advanced users who are or want to develop software for Linux. It deals with sophisticated features such as multiprocessing, multi-threading, interprocess communication, and interaction with hardware devices.
Following the book will help you develop a faster, reliable and secure program that uses the full capability of a GNU/Linux system.
Linux From Scratch [eBook]
If you think you know enough about Linux and you are a pro, then why not create your own Linux distribution? Linux From Scratch (LFS) is a project that provides you with step-by-step instructions for building your own custom Linux system, entirely from source code.
Call it DIY Linux but this is a great way to put your Linux expertise to the next level.
There are various sub-parts of this project, you can check it out on its website and download the books from there.
3. Free eBooks to learn Linux command line and Shell scripting
The real power of Linux lies in the command line and if you want to conquer Linux, you must learn Linux command line and Shell scripting.
In fact, if you have to work on Linux terminal on your job, having a good knowledge of Linux command line will actually help you in your tasks and perhaps help you in advancing your career as well (as you’ll be more efficient).
In this section, we’ll see various Linux commands free eBooks.
GNU/Linux Command−Line Tools Summary [eBook]
This eBook from The Linux Documentation Project is a good place to begin with Linux command line and get acquainted with Shell scripting.
Bash Reference Manual from GNU [eBook]
This is a free eBook to download from GNU. As the name suggests, it deals with Bash Shell (if I can call that). This book has over 175 pages and it covers a number of topics around Linux command line in Bash.
You can get it from the link below:
The Linux Command Line [eBook]
This 500+ pages of free eBook by William Shotts is the MUST HAVE for anyone who is serious about learning Linux command line.
Even if you think you know things about Linux, you’ll be amazed at how much this book still teaches you.
It covers things from beginners to advanced level. I bet that you’ll be a hell lot of better Linux user after reading this book. Download it and keep it with you always.
Bash Guide for Beginners [eBook]
If you just want to get started with Bash scripting, this could be a good companion for you. The Linux Documentation Project is behind this eBook again and it’s the same author who wrote Introduction to Linux eBook (discussed earlier in this article).
Advanced Bash-Scripting Guide [eBook]
If you think you already know basics of Bash scripting and you want to take your skills to the next level, this is what you need. This book has over 900+ pages of various advanced commands and their examples.
The AWK Programming Language [eBook]
Not the prettiest book here but if you really need to go deeper with your scripts, this old-yet-gold book could be helpful.
Linux 101 Hacks [eBook]
This 270 pages eBook from The Geek Stuff teaches you the essentials of Linux command lines with easy to follow practical examples. You can get the book from the link below:
4. Distribution specific free learning material
This section deals with material that are dedicated to a certain Linux distribution. What we saw so far was the Linux in general, more focused on file systems, commands and other core stuff.
These books, on the other hand, can be termed as manual or getting started guide for various Linux distributions. So if you are using a certain Linux distribution or planning to use it, you can refer to these resources. And yes, these books are more desktop Linux focused.
I would also like to add that most Linux distributions have their own wiki or documentation section which are often pretty vast. You can always refer to them when you are online.
Needless to say that this eBook is for Ubuntu users. It’s an independent project that provides Ubuntu manual in the form of free eBook. It is updated for each version of Ubuntu.
The book is rightly called manual because it is basically a composition of step by step instruction and aimed at absolute beginners to Ubuntu. So, you get to know Unity desktop, how to go around it and find applications etc.
It’s a must have if you never used Ubuntu Unity because it helps you to figure out how to use Ubuntu for your daily usage.
For Linux Mint: Just Tell Me Damnit! [eBook]
A very basic eBook that focuses on Linux Mint. It shows you how to install Linux Mint in a virtual machine, how to find software, install updates and customize the Linux Mint desktop.
You can download the eBook from the link below:
Solus Linux Manual [eBook]
Caution! This used to be the official manual from Solus Linux but I cannot find its mentioned on Solus Project’s website anymore. I don’t know if it’s outdated or not. But in any case, a little something about Solu Linux won’t really hurt, will it?
5. Free eBooks for SysAdmin
This section is dedicated to the SysAdmins, the superheroes for developers. I have listed a few free eBooks here for SysAdmin which will surely help anyone who is already a SysAdmin or aspirs to be one. I must add that you should also focus on essential Linux command lines as it will make your job easier.
The Debian Administration’s Handbook [eBook]
If you use Debian Linux for your servers, this is your bible. Book starts with Debian history, installation, package management etc and then moves on to cover topics like LAMP, virtual machines, storage management and other core sysadmin stuff.
Advanced Linux System Administration [eBook]
This is an ideal book if you are preparing for LPI certification. The book deals straightway to the topics essential for sysadmins. So knowledge of Linux command line is a prerequisite in this case.
Linux System Administration [eBook]
Another free eBook by Paul Cobbaut. The 370 pages long eBook covers networking, disk management, user management, kernel management, library management etc.
Linux Servers [eBook]
One more eBook from Paul Cobbaut of linux-training.be. This book covers web servers, mysql, DHCP, DNS, Samba and other file servers.
Linux Networking [eBook]
Networking is the bread and butter of a SysAdmin, and this book by Paul Cobbaut (again) is a good reference material.
Linux Storage [eBook]
This book by Paul Cobbaut (yes, him again) explains disk management on Linux in detail and introduces a lot of other storage-related technologies.
Linux Security [eBook]
This is the last eBook by Paul Cobbaut in our list here. Security is one of the most important part of a sysadmin’s job. This book focuses on file permissions, acls, SELinux, users and passwords etc.
Your favorite Linux learning material?
I know that this is a good collection of free Linux eBooks. But this could always be made better.
If you have some other resources that could be helpful in learning Linux, do share with us. Please note to share only the legal downloads so that I can update this article with your suggestion(s) without any problem.
I hope you find this article helpful in learning Linux. Your feedback is welcome :)