Been there. You could just first learn to launch a VPS and access it using Putty or whatever terminal/software you want to use. After accessing installing programs is not easy in command line mode and you would surely start learning with editors like VI and NANO (later being easier). But you just have to start and eventually you will be able to setup your own server without cpanel. Go for centoswebpanel its easier.
There a numerous ways of using a VPS,if a VPS is set up with Linux Operating system then you can use it SSh and Windows based can be set up using a remote desktop connectionGet VPS's if you expect huge traffic and dedicated resources