Want to Learn Linux?
What is this big rave about Linux? The desktop environments can't look better than Mac can they? Windows is more stable isn't it? The answer to these questions will be answered in the following discussion.
Linux is kernel that controls the hardware in your computer system, it allocates resources to programs that run on top of it. It makes your cd tray open and close it makes the pixels display on your screen, it picks up your printer or makes your hard drive spin. On top of Linux you have a bunch of software and a distribution in the most simplified terms is a bunch of these software packages and a way to manage them. They come in all shapes and sizes but fundamentally they all run on top of Linux.
This distributions or distros as they are called come in a range of different flavors from open source only, to a mixture of both. Many of the well known systems such as Ubuntu, Debian of Fedora only ship with free and open source packages.
But why are there so many different distros? Well first and foremost it gives you a choice. I would start with something like Ubuntu and then experiment around with Fedora and other distros. Look at what they offer and shop around as one may tailor suit better than another. In the end you can just install the packages from the other systems as Linux is Linux is Linux and they all run from a common group of GUI's.
The three major GUIS are Gnome, KDE and XFCE. Gnome is the most common desktop GUI or environment and is the default for more linux distributions. KDE is another environment that may be a good choice for people coming over from windows, however I personally found gnome easier. Finally XFCE is a lightweight environment that I use that is designed for low end machines. However I think it packs quite a punch.
Anyway basically Linux is highly modifiable, I suggest just grab a distro and dive in. Its easy to install I would back up your data in case its your first time partitioning. Another good idea would be to install a program called WUBI which allows you to install Ubuntu as if it were a program on your windows machine, no partitioning and can be uninstalled from the control panel. Anyway good luck I will see you on the other side.