I recently tried vps on a server, but wasn’t told I needed cpanel. I have been a host on windows, and also share hosted with many other companies, but not Linux before, so didn’t know if I needed it (thought it might just be bells and whistles)
I was then told I wouldn’t be able to use the server without vps, so I cancelled.
Is vps always Linux based? and do I always need cpanel
(I though some sort of ftp, and phpmyadmin for mysql might be all I needed, if these accounts are pre-setup)
VPS isn't always Linux based, and cPanel isn't needed. If you can administer a VPS (much like working with a dedicated server, root access) then a control panel isn't needed. However, if you're a newbie, then you might want a control panel.
I'd say it's worth learning how to work with linux. Just being able to set things up though is still a bit iffy because unknown/unexpected things can happen and then you won't know what to do. To be safe, I recommend going with a managed provider. That way, you can set things up but if something does happen that you don't know how to solve, you can contact your provider.
It's up to you whether you want Linux or Windows, but unless you really, really need Windows (ASP.NET,etc) then Linux would be a good choice since it's cheaper.