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I would suggest getting familiar with Ubuntu which is a little more user friendly than Backtrack at first. To use some of the tools in BT you have to know your way around linux pretty well. You can get most of the hacking tools installed on Ubuntu too.
BackTrack 5 will be based on Ubuntu Lucid (10.04 LTS), and will (finally) support both 32 bit and 64 bit architectures. We will be officially supporting KDE 4, Gnome and Fluxbox while providing users streamlined ISO downloads of each Desktop Environment (DE). Tool integration from our repositories will be seamless with all our supported DE’s, including the specific DE menu structure.
BackTrack 5 (Unreleased at this time) is actually built off of Ubuntu Source:http://www.backtrack-linux.org/backtrack/backtrack-5-release-tool-suggestions/Not sure if BT4 is built off of slax or ubuntu for sure.
I am also in the same boat. I am new to just about everything. Same grade level, and have an interest in hacking. From what I have read and taken from my readings Is that to be a hacker you should understand how the programs are written and how they work, in able to exploit them. I have began to read multiple books that explain programming, but from an advanced point of view even though it has said "beginner" right in the title. So, I decided to step down a notch and start completely from the beginning and read a book on Linux.. From things I have read online Linux is an operating system in which many people write their programs and then compile them, and is the closest operating system to the freedom and heart of hacking. I figure that it will get me familiar with some of the tools used by hackers. My interest in hacking started when I came upon the first iPhone jailbreak. I loved everything in it and what it could do. I thought to myself how far this could go. I then got into torrents and just figuring out ways to get around things. I used many different programs. But that's all I could use, programs. I began to wonder to myself HOW. How all of this was done. So mainly, my question is how do people such as Comex, geohot, muscle nerd and people like that do it with iOS jail breaking? What is it that they actually exploit in the software and how? Also, how do I build steps to get to even half of what they can do? Am I starting in the right place? What are the steps to get there? And Things like that. Thank you. Also, as you can see it is my first post , so please be easy on the criticism.