You should find most linux people friendly and willing to help learn.
You might try joining a linux user group before taking on the kernel development.
Here is a list of user groups http://www.linux.org/groups/
You have to remember the kernel development is difficult, some people have been programming
for 10 or more years to get to that knowledge.
You might try this steps in your linux knowlegde.
1) basic user
3) proficient use of applications
4) some programming
6) kernel programming
Just a reccomendation if you live in an older house or apartment. You might go to the hardware store and buy a CO detector for about 20 dollars. I think some of the older furnaces have CO in them when you first turn them on.
This may be true even in newer homes and apartments.