Whether you’re a fan of the command line or the novice I recommend you to do a test with INX (INX Is Not X), this is a minimal Linux distribution that has the characteristic of not having any graphical desktop, all the tools and packages provided work in the terminal.
INX is a Live CD currently based on Ubuntu 8.04, a bit old but for the tools it ships and the goal this is enough.
Keep in mind that this distribution is more a proof of concept and a good way for learning some trick from the terminal but is not to be used as standard environment.
Once booted the live you’ll have a menu and choosing the introduction you’ll see that INX works on at least three levels:
rest here