please help this linux-curious newbie

i'm thinking of quitting windows and go linux (well, i will if i can in few months) and i need some advices on how to start it off. I've never had any experience with linux, none. can you guys suggest which book to get, which linux to get from where, how can i get them for free, etc.
here are my comp specs, if it helps:
1.33GHz amd t-bird [c]
iwill kk266+
256MB pc-155
ati radeon 7200 LE 32MB-ddr (flashed to regular radeon)
hercules fortissimo II soundcard
3com nic
that's pretty much it
and i like to say that i have some knowledge of how to use dos if that helps
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More about please linux curious newbie
  1. Book: Running Linux, from O'Reilly

    Distro: Mandrake,

    "If you teach a child to read, then he or her will be able to pass a literacy test" - George W.
  2. Books are a good start as they explain almost all of the basics you need to get started. But There are other sources of information as well. The main ones are the Linux Howtos. You can find them at <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>. If you browsing through them aimlessly, they can seem confusing but when you are stuck with a specific problem, there will almost definitly be a howto or a minihowto for that problem, and at that time it will be invaluable.

    I've only ever really used RedHat and I like it. I'm not sure how easy/hard the installation is in comparison to the other distributions but I found it quite good. You can find links to various distributions at <A HREF="" target="_new"></A>, where you can download them, but I would recommend getting one on cd. Some books include a distribution or two on accompanied CDs. There are lots of magazines that have some Linux distros on the cover disc, but often these come in a cdrom-image (ISO) format and you have to burn them onto CD's first.

    If you want to buy a copy, I've heard <A HREF="" target="_new">SuSE</A> include good manuals with the bundle. If you buy a linux distro you'll also get technical support from them for free (at least for a while).

    You're system sounds good, it should work with linux no promlems. Watch out for modem problems though. If you have a SoftModem/HCF/HSF etc, then Linux probably won't work with it.

    <font color=red><i>I refugee from Guatanamo Bay,
    dance around the border like I'm Cassius Clay
    </i></font color=red>
  3. what do these mean?
    SuSE Linux for i386
    SuSE Linux for Alpha
    SuSE Linux for PowerPC
    SuSE Linux for SPARC
    SuSE Linux Enterprise Server for S/390
    what are i386, alpha, powerpc, sparc, and s/390?
  4. Those are the some of the different architectures (CPU types) available.

    Because Linux is available as source-code, people have ported it to lots of different platforms - As opposed to Windows which is basically x86 only, or Mac OSX which is (Apple) PowerPC only.

    The average home pc is x86. i386 (Intel 386 the first mainstream Intel 32bit processor) is compatible with everything from 80386 -> P4, including AMD, Cyrix etc.

    If you're wondering what to download/buy, go for the i386 version (assuming you're using a regular PC).
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