Answer for:

Learn Unix/Linux

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I would recommend:
Google is your friend, and what may work for me, may not work for you. Linux Mint should be a good OS to try. It has the look and feel of Windows, and you can play around in the command line. Learn the file system and how it compares to Windows. It is different, but there are a lot of similarities. Also, don't go crazy on installing games and programs, as that could get in the way of learning. Just try to make it a working server or firewall on your network. That will give you real world experience, and forces you to learn the OS.
Play around with your .bash_profile and learn how to set up aliases. Those will help you out when you login to the command line. Case in point, instead of typing $ cd /usr/local/Secuirty, you can set up an alias so that when you type $ sec, it takes you to that directory.
Install and break it, have a goal of what you want the box to do, set it up, then wipe it out and do something else.