I'm somewhat new to the Linux learning curve (having kicked around in DOS and Windows for most of my life), so hopfully we see computers in more or less the same way. I mention this because in my experience, a successful Windows-To-Linux transition requires a change in frame of mind.
******* If it works, don't worry about it yet.
You can change *anything* on your Linux box. It's all a question of effort. Changing the screen resolution, for example is rather a lot easier than modifying inetd (the deamon that handles TCP/IP services), but both are well within the realm of possibility. You mentioned updating your kernel. This is a good thing to do, insofar as it's good to keep up to date, but if you don't need any of the features in the newer kernel releases, don't worry about it.
******* Linux is a preference-based OS
When you install Windows ME on a computer, what you see is what you get. You can customize the way that the system responds to stimuli (both from users and from the network). The difference between Gnome and KDE is one example of this: they both do more or less the same thing, but in different ways. I myself prefer Gnome, but there's nothing wrong with KDE (or AfterStep, or fwm, or any of the other GUIs). Give 'em all a try, and decide which one you like.
******* Linux is a command-based OS
Nearly everything that happens on your linux box happens as a result of a command (even things that happen in XWindows).
Most of the basic user commands are in the /bin directory. You can learn what these commands do by reading the man pages for them. Example: you want to know what the 'ln' command does, so you type
and your system shows you the man page for the ln command. Note: use the arrow keys and page up/down to scroll, and Q to exit the man page viewer.
Another way to find out about a command is to use the --help argument. Using the 'ln' command example, not that you know what the ln command does, you want to know the syntax to use it, so you type
and the ln command tells you the format and options.
Most of the basic administration commands are in the /sbin directory. Same applies here, man pages can be used to learn about commands. Be careful with these commands!
There are more user commands in /usr/bin and /usr/local/bin. These generally relate more to installed packages.
There are more administration commands in /usr/sbin and /usr/local/sbin. These also generally relare more to installed packages.
******* Linux is NOT DOS
One mistake that I made at first was to assume that the command line interface of Linux suffered the same limitations that DOS does. This is not true. On a Windows system, all of the interesting things happen at the GUI level - for the most part there aren't command line commands to do half the things you might want to do on the system. On a Linux system, all of the interesting things happen at the command line level - the things that happen at the GUI level are abratractions of the things that happen at the command line level.
******* Know Your Documentation
There is TONS of documentation on Linux. Wading through it can be difficult. Here's a quick breakdown:
*HOW-TOs* are fairly comprehensive guides on a wide variety of subjects. Keep in mind that some of them are written to for slightly different configurations of Linux. It won't change the general information, but some of the examples might have to be tweaked a little before they work on your system. See http://www.linuxdoc.org
*mini-HOW-TOs* are shorter, quicker HOW-TOs on specific subjects, like connecting to an ISP with a modem. These documents are a good place to look for specific info on setting up hardward (e.g. the mini-HOW-TO on setting up 3dfx cards). See http://www.linuxdoc.org
*Guides* are short books on different subjects. These generally contain more detail then HOW-TOs. A HOW-TO will address, for example, how to configure the Appache web server, where a guide would go into detail on what a web server is, the header formats for HTTP packets, etc. See http://www.linuxdoc.org
*Books* are the greatest source of general information available. I can recommend:
Linux for Windows Addicts, 2001 Osborne/McGraw-Hill
This book is a guide for transitioning from Windows to Linux. I've been quite happy with it.
Linux in a Nutshell, 1999 O'Reilly & Associates
This is a quick reference of most all the commands and programs that are in common use on linux systems.
Teach Yourself Unix in 24 Hours, 1998 Sams Publishing
This is a beginner's guide to Unix. It's a good introduction to general Unix concepts.
Phew! That was a mouthfull! Hope this helps.
Erick JT Brown <=> firstname.lastname@example.org