I am a diehard fan of automated maintenance, scheduled tasks etc, what vital tasks should be run x hours/daily, to keep the os/pc running smoothly, and stable?
It looks like you answer the biggest one in your 2nd question BACKUPS!.
keep an eye on partition sizes using df If something seems to be growing, find out why.
The only other big thing to do is the updates (not upgrades)
Otherwise, unlike windows, linux maintains itself.
here is an older article that I found handy. http://maketecheasier.com/8-ways-to-maintain-a-clean-lean-ubuntu-machine/2008/10/07
2. Being new has risks, as I can see, as this is the 3rd time i've had to reinstall linux mint, because of my partition issues. So now how do i protect myself from doing something really dumb? I don't know what to do, if i do something that causes problems, and how to recover from that. I have setup daily backups, but is that enough to make sure i can rollback if there are problems? Any suggestions?
Backups are huge, and how you do your backups is important for quick recovery. MintBackup is nice, learn to use it and it will save you some time.
I also suggest learning rsync, and how to use cron.
rsync basics http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=15082
If you really want to be safe, and have plenty of disk storage.... virtualize.
use kvm or vmware desktop to create a virtualized replica of your installation. Try your changes there before making the changes on your desktop.
Plus, its fun to learn, and you'll find yourself virtualizing in other ways.
I'll leave 3 to someone else.
4. Any recommended articles on torrent automation? I have used sickbeard + couchpotato + utorrent on windows, I want to do the same via linux. Sorry if this is the wrong channel for this question.
I don't have a problem with torrenting, (is that a word) But I don't do it. There is absolutely no way to do it safely and without the possibility of legal action.
In my opinion not worth the risk. Get friendly with Pandora and Red box.
Mint 10 Intel Quad core, ATI 4650, 3 tb of storage.
Mint 11 with Boxee AMD64, ATI All in wonder pro 512mb.
Google, the new lifesaver!