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Do you know anybody with a linux or unix machine? I learned how to mess around in the shell because one of my teachers at school had a redhat server running. He gave me an account and I would telnet in everyday and learn new things.
I don't know of any sites that provide this kind of service but they could be out there. You never know.
Thats actually a really good idea. Maybe someone could set up a server to allow newbies to hack around. It would be a challenge not only for the newbie but for the person who sets up the server as well. The admin would have to make sure the newbie couldn't mess anything up.