My biggest gripe with all this is that I love learning I really do. But this seems like highly inefficient way to learn new stuff... It totally threw me off of my php development and I have lost two days on Apache setup (and a bit of linux) and I still dont feel confident I could solve it next time
Why is there not a simple tutorial on the concepts and directives? Apache docs are cool but for someone who already has a lot of knowledge.
I dont think it is "inefficient", it is the way it is. When i started to learn about Apache and how to configure Apache, understanding Apache, i found a small note in a documentation which clearly said: "Never forget - configuring Apache is a sophisticated task. Apache is a powerfull tool, it know lots of configurations options and it is always difficult to learn and understand these."
And that is quite true. You are saying, you "lost" two days. But it is not true, you did not lost two days, you spent two days for learning Apache basics. What do you think, how long it took me to become an expert on Apache? Honestly: Years! And i still dont know everything (I know a lot, but are still features, i have never seen and never used until now).
Same thing is for Linux. Fortunately i have been a professinal IT Consultant and Developer for many years and when i started my career as a programmer, i started to learn UNIX first. This was 30 years ago. So I have great knowledge about UNIX and when Linux came up (Linux was unknown in the 80s of the last century), of course it was very easy for me to work with Linux. But i still had to learn about HTML, about Perl, PHP, MySQL and all the related stuff. That was a long period, but i liked it very much. And "two days" means nothing when you have to learn a new, very complex software environment.
Meanwhile, there are plenty of tutorials about Apache etc. in the WWW, i dont know which ones are good or not, you have to find out that for yourselve. But there ary many many tutorials about Apache and about the concept. Take your time and work on it. There is no other way of learning.