wow, these are all great and encouraging posts from those who know Linux or have messed with it a little themselves and from those who are also inexperienced and curious like me.
I did get a free version of ubuntu up and running on a spare machine at work and was amazed how easily and quickly i was able to do so considering i have zero experience with it.
then a musician friend of mine who does some programming mentioned fedora and red hat, and that the NSA uses their own version of red hat, so that put the bug in me as well. Coincidentally i've been wanting to learn more with respect to IT and network security, rootkits and reverse engineering, and all that so i signed up for an online Linux class to assist me with the learning curve.
as intimidating as it can be, i am excited about getting back into programming from the shell mode or command line. hopefully i can keep up with it all long enough to get some credible certifications behind my belt. and if not, i'm pretty sure what little i manage to learn will still be useful here at work or just as an individual in this ever increasing cyber age we live in (keeping my wife's and my mobile devices secure)