And that struck me as surprising given how often they emphasize how much experience they have with teaching. I took multiple edX and coursera classes from Alpha to Omega and this was one of the worst.
If you want to learn Linux - it's actually really simple:
1. Install Ubuntu (really easy)
2. IF you have a problem THEN Google it END
I tried learning Linux since the mid-2000s and failed every time up until recently. I even followed your advice to the letter. I would install Ubuntu and just played with the default apps and tried downloading some other stuff but quickly got bored because I wasn't learning anything and I wasn't doing anything productive on it. Everything I learned I learned in the first day of two of usage. It was that simple. I would always end up booting back into Windows regularly and reclaiming the disk space when I needed it. Then I'd repeat the process a year later.
I finally actually started to get Linux around early 2013 when I decided to try learning again but this time I had something useful to use it for: programming. I've been programming on Windows and wanted to try building software on Linux. Now I had a need to learn my way around bash and all the utilities found within it. I've also taken Intro to Linux course when it was offered on edX last year and although I can't say it was the greatest course I've ever taken it definitely would have helped me out a ton when I started using Ubuntu for my programming.
In fact, it is the best resource I've come across for learning Linux a beginner can find simply because it gives you a good idea of what working with Linux is like for a variety of perspectives. It's got a bit talking about working with text editors (both gui and cli based), a bit talking about users and groups, chapters covering the basics super-useful utilities like grep that you really ought to know exists.
My favorite thing I learned from the course was the `apropos` utility which searches the man pages. One of the worst problems I've had with Linux was remembering the name of some program that did something useful. Now I can just type `apropos pdf` to find a brief description of all programs that have the word pdf in their man page description. Super useful when your searching for that pdf file splitter or merger you used a blue moon ago but can't remember its name.
In fact, I don't think I've ever bothered with man pages up until I've taken this course. Now I do a whole lot less Googling and more fending for myself.
Sorry, this went on for too long but I think my point is clear; you're probably not going to learn much if you just install Ubuntu and this course (in my opinion) has incredible value for a beginner.
Chapter 02: Linux Philosophy and Concepts
Yup, another linux course that starts with a lesson in IP law. "Windows for dummies" doesn't start with an hour on Microsoft's corporate structure. It's software. The students want to learn how to use it properly. So teach that first. Leave the politics of f/oss for after they are already addicted.
I've seen more than a couple of these courses use the first lessons as a "it's free, so expect rough edges" speech. Again, Windows courses never start by explaining why it might have bugs. Linux works. Linux works well. You don't need to open with excuses.
I don't know what they're covering in the chapter about the Linux foundation, but the second chapter sounds extremely useful to me. A lot of people who come from a Windows or often an OS X background don't really grok:
* That you can -- and should -- chain program together, not rely on the feature set of a single one
* That, when in doubt, you can look at the source of the program if you can read it
* That there are other release models at work other than "One major version ever X years and $osnameUpdate in between", and you need to know what you can expect from each
* That the kernel and various bits of userspace are separately developed and packaged, which has repercussions over what practical systems look like.
As a Linux user from day one of Linus' post to the minix-list, I have observed thousands of new Linux users come to the scene, personally. And it is without any question in my mind that the issues over what exactly "free software" means have been one of the biggest barriers to involvement - people think they're breaking the law, or should break the law, or don't have a right to unpack tarballs, or are afraid of looking at the source, or don't think its 'safe' to link to something in /usr/lib, and so on and so forth. Getting this sorted out at the beginning of the course means that the student is prepared for the real knowledge transfer to be gained by having access to the sources for everything.
Its important, if you want to become a power Linux user, to understand your rights and just how much freedom you actually have, and to discard any preconceived/propagandized stigma you have about the subject.