If you're ready, install another blank hard-drive and try out Linux From Scratch.
you do this, on the same drive try Gentoo Linux.
Practice the mantra: [i]"Omm ..
Y'know, one of the best opportunities that Linux gives to you is the opportunity to experiment with
a full-fledged operating system (of very
considerable power!) that you have all of the source-code to. And
, you have a "personal" computer, all to yourself, that you can, as you said, f**k-around with. (Better yet, drag that "old" computer back out of the closet, and use that
It's an opportunity that simply has not been available for a very long time, and now, to you, it's "yours for the asking." What you have to do is... dive in.
Nobody ever learned about nothin' just by staring at it. Naww, they just did it,
damn-fools that they were. Whether it was muscle-cars or spacecraft or computers, they just did it.
And that's how you can learn too. That is, if you dare.
Mind you, plan your escape-route.
Pack your parachute with great care. Figure your contingencies. Make sure that you have something (hence the "second disk drive") that you know
that you can crawl back to and that you know how
to "crawl back to."
Then... stand up on that mountaintop and cry... (with pride) "I'm a !!!! Cowabunga!!"
And start to learn
The "hackers" of MIT in the 1960's, who hacked Spacewar on a PDP-8, will nod approvingly at you. That's how they learned: they were not afraid not to.
(Hell, that's how William Gates III did it! How Linus Torvalds did it. How Steven Jobs and Steven Wozniak did it. How all
of them/us did it, back when there was
no "personal" computer to be had! There were no certifications; "computer science" was not even a subject on anybody's curriculum anywhere. Do you know what a luxury
a "personal" computer, yet alone a personal computer of this power,
You, today, have far more at your disposal than they/we ever dreamed of. Make the most of it...