The brain damage bit, I'm with you there mate.
In my case, I got "woody" installed (ish), but only the base packages - the bastard wouldn't even start my "x" server, fortunately a friend from my LUG knows shit loads of stuff about debian, and he came over and set things up so it was a basic install - though I had to upgrade the distro to "Sarge", the standard kernel bit, for woody wouldn't recognize my graphics card - so he upgraded the kernel for me, leaving me with some "minor config stuff" to do (alledgedly).
The lying bastard - I got basic kde 2.2 installed with "apt-get", but had to get help to learn the dpkg thing to get opera installed. Oh and I saw that kde 3.1.3 is available (sort of) for debian - it only took me about 10 days (with a fair bit of help) to get the upgrade sorted.
Now all I have to do to get things finished, is work out why the cdrw device won't play an audio cd, and find out how to get both my printers (1 inkjet and 1 laser) working, and I want the "flash player" facility so I can have a good laugh at sites like this one
(you should try it, especially the songs set to flash animations)
But like the distro, the brain damage is free, and thats just the start of it, you should have available the following:
Cigarettes (if you don't smoke then start - you'll see why)
Coffee (nuclear grade - too keep you awake at night when you are trying to suss things out that don't want to work quite the way you think they should)
and some booze - bourbon should suffice (for when you are stressed with it)
But, make sure that there are no large, heavy, blunt objects to hand, because you're bound to get to the stage that you want to beat the crap out of it!