Hello nukedathlonman! Welcome to FreeCAD and the forum
FreeCAD 0.17 was released before Ubuntu 18.10, when I tried to build 0.17 for 18.10 on the daily PPA it failed and I didn't have time to find the solution
I would suggest you install the daily PPA: https://launchpad.net/~freecad-maintain ... ecad-daily
There were big changes between 0.16 and 0.17 so learning on the older version is not advised.
The 0.18 dailies are very stable (We are shooting for a release sometime around the end of the year) and 0.18 works the same as 0.17 with some bug-fixes and enhancements.