Have you ever seen that movie with the rapper "Icecube" called "Are we there yet!?!" It's got a Swedish handyman the likes of "Mr. Hanny" on "Green Acres". Being a Linuxville guide is like that. Just about everything in town, I can do, learn to do, or direct you to who can do, given enough notice. Hey, I've got the scars to prove it! Linuxville is a pretty diverse place, I live among the Ubuntu and am rather fond of XFCE as my desktop of choice (Xubuntu).
You want to know so much more than I can tell you, you want me to explain every reason and nuance and condense the whole of Linux into a few sound bytes...........impossible. Here is what I did. I read about Linux on various sites to get a handle (never quite clear!). Then I went to http://www.ubuntu.com and downloaded the appropriate .iso file, burned the CD. And just so I could have the official CD, I ordered the free CD too. AOL had free CD's also, if you remember, only when you ran them, you got stuff you didn't expect installed on your computer. Now with Linux (any flavor), you only get the software you asked for. Put the CD into your machine but instead of trying to run a file from MS Windows, restart or reboot your system, so that your computer boots from the CD instead of your hard drive with MS Windows on it. And then you will be asked to run it without installation or to install it. Linux will run off the CD, not install anything on your machine and when you shut it down will quit without a trace. While it is running, you can see what it comes with, how it works, what it looks like and if all your hardware responds. This answers all those questions you were going to pelt me with. Close your mouth before you ask, how they can offer this for free........ please. The catch, it's not a Mac, not MS, it's Linux!!
The live-CD of Ubuntu is wonderful, no time limit, no secret codes, no disabled features, what you see is what you get. The live-CD is the basic system, once you install it, you have access to change it, add to it, tweak it. And like I said, if you are not sure about installing, you now have a Linux live-CD you can play with anytime your curiosity gets stirred. If you want you could never install it yet use it and save files to your jump drive!! Now that's awesome!!
Aside from all the neat web sites you can google, there is one magazine you can download in .pdf format that is superb, Full Circle Magazine. The link is, http://www.fullcirclemagazine.org/ and of course, it is about Ubuntu. In the latest issue there is another interesting link for you social types, http://myubuntu.ning.com. This is on top of all the forums and news pages. If you got an inkling of the artist gene, check out http://www.linuxgraphicsusers.com. You will not be turned away. If you are a document maker Open Office is the name and for tips check out http://openoffice.blogs.com/openoffice/.
I felt much separation anxiety until I visited http://www.webi.org/ and http://www.schoolforge.net/ and said these run on Linux or MS. Then after a bout of "what about" I visited http://www.linuxalt.com/ and http://wiki.linuxquestions.org/wiki/Linux_software_equivalent_to_Windows_software, to realize there is a chance I may not even need MS at all. The clincher was when I could output documents in MS file formats if I had to and I could read them and convert them, all without a single MS boot-up. My one MS machine probably gets turned on once every other week, if that.
I am completely happy in Linuxville except for the GUI unrest between the KDE and Gnome crews. XFCE uses the same libraries, tools as Gnome yet has managed to avoid headlines. If lower resource use is a must, XFCE is the way to go, but there are desktops that are even leaner if you need them. XFCE provides a good mix of functionality and lightness. My realization goes like this, an older machine is fine but the cost of adding memory to them has not gone down. If you have 512 MB Linux will not give any hesitation on the desktop. Less memory might require you seek lightness. I just ordered another 512 MB for my newer machine. That will give me 1 gig (1024 MB) of memory and a better performing machine. I could install KDE or Gnome, which do work in 512 MB, but I won't, XFCE works just fine. Yeah, I'm there!!!