lol, X11 == GUI
the black screen you keen on is called CLI (command line interface). when you are in CLI and type startx command you get the GUI working (if you have installed one).
Linux have much advanced "command prompt" then windows. You can do almost everything from CLI - you can create and extract archive (tar, unrar, p7zip), connect to FTP servers, download files (wget), browse web sites (elinks, links, lynx), use IRC (bitchx, ircii), you can even listen audio and watch video with mplayer and special configuration for 32 bit colour console (dont know exactly how) . There is even Total commander like file manager - midnight commander (based on ncurces). Well, you can't use skype :cheer: But you can connect to other linux machine and type these commands on the remote host :laugh: (read more about ssh).
From here go to Community tab -> Groups -> and the search for Bash group. there are nice lessons and explanations about commands. There you can ask your questions (i think so). Also for every command there is manual page and info. just type "man commandname" in the terminal or console and you will get nice and full info. There are a few sites that provide online manuals (search in google about that). Usually "commandname --h" shows short help.
You can try to install Gentoo on virtual machine from Gentoo Minimal CD. Then you will learn much new things about linux. Or just read this guide.
good luck & have fun!