All that you can realistically do is to expect
it to be "daunting." But after all, you are a computer-science student
. We did a whole lot worse things with the computers at our
and didn't find it "daunting."
Anyhow... do your homework early. You know that you'll be doing a lot with Samba (the Windows file-sharing daemon), so read-up about that, before you start installing things.
Make sure that you're doing your install on a separate
machine, or at least a separate drive
. If you keep the drives completely separate, you can reboot back into "what's familiar" at any time, having never modified that configuration at all throughout.