I have used WHM/CPanel to adminster my dedicated web server for a period of time now, and I've done small maintenance (patches, file extractions, etc...) via SSH. My goal is to learn how to accomplish the tasks performed by WHM/CPanel so that I am not completely dependent on its "convenience."
Please contribute links or just keywords to google that will help me learn about maintaining a web server without WHM/CPanel. At the moment, the web server runs on Red Hat Linux if it matters.
It's all about learning Linux first. Get some books on Linux. Install Linux on a computer at home. Mess with it. Try a few different distributions. Have fun, don't be scared, and stick with it. You'll soon break free of the need for cPanel/WHM.