Administrating Without a Control Panel



I'm considering purchasing the VS2 ($35/month). Just a couple questions:

On the Managed VPS pricing page, it states that control panels come with higher a monthly fee. If I choose not to incur that fee, how will the VPS be managed? Will all I get is a shell account and I have to install everything and manage everything myself from an ssh command line?

Is there some sort of demo I can play with or a walkthrough guide to get a sense of what I can expect?

I'm migrating from shared hosting where I use CPanel; I also run a web development environment on my local machine, but I'm completely new to VPS management. I'm comfortable with the BlueHost shared hosting environment, but I need more dedicated resources, hence KnownHost, but I'm not sure how much more complicated things will get.