maybe you can get much better help if you give us details what you want to do exactly.
If you are interested in Operating Systems, I would suggest that you get Minix instead. Together with the book about operating systems from Andrew Tanenbaum. You find all information about that topic on http://www.minix.org.
The next suggestion is that you really get the system itself that you are interested in. So if you are interested in the Linux kernel (or into Minix if you follow my suggestion), then you should get a VM with Linux or Minix to play around with it. (Always look at the documentation what the build system is!).
And for Linux 0.01 you might need a minix system, too. Linus developed his kernel on Minix and I am not sure which linux version was able to be a good build system itself. I think a linux 0.99pl1 was the first system that I used in the past which was a complete usefull system. But maybe there was earlier versions without x11 that could have been used already....
But my main suggestion if you are interested in development of operating systems is really to go and check out the mentioned book. It is something that was seen as "bible" at university when I studied computer science (ok, a lot changed because that is already 15 years ago! But the book is still great and gives you a good overview what an operating system is and so on. And Minix is great because it is not build as an operating system which should compete. It is just a platform to learn it - so a lot of things are kept in an easy to understand way instead to build up a great and powerfull system.
I hope this helped a little bit.
With kind regards,