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Linux is an open source GPL free operating system. Which means you can make any change that you want to it as long as you know what you are doing.
I have had limited experience with Linux.
Mainly messed around with Fedora 2, Red Hat Linux 9, and Knoppix.
I mainly stayed to the command line, to try and understand Linux a little better, and teleneted to the server to practice some of my scripting
Knoppix is pretty cool since it is a live cd which means you do not have to install it to the hard disk, and it comes with tons of applications on the cd.
I used to run Linux as a virtual desktop using Virtual PC, which allows me to stay inside windows while test Linux at the same time. You can also use VM Ware to test Linux
Other choices are having a multiboot computer which can boot into either Linux, or windows. Or just take an old computer that is around the house and install Linux on it.
Final option for Windows users is to install Cygwin.com which provides a Linux like environment for windows, and contains many of the UNIX tools.
For Linux Commands I suggest you refer to my UNIX command list.
http://www.kubuntuforums.net - a kubuntu linux forum website, kubuntu is basically ubuntu but using the KDE desktop.