if youre new to linux dont start with debian. head over to www.linuxiso.org
and download mandrake 10 or fedora core 2. both are very easy to start out with. if you have broadband just download the 3 .ISO's for either, burn the image files and boot with the first cd of choice.
debian is tough if youre just starting out. btw, most linux distros worked fine on my dell lattitude C600 if that helps ya out any.