If you've always been a resident of the Windows world and you're itching to try Linux because the winds of obsolescence seem to be whispering in your windows at night, let me offer a couple of frank suggestions:
(1) Just do it:
C'mon in, the water's fine. Yes, Linux and the Unix-variant environments are very important
things to know. Even if you love Windows and are persuaded that everything you'll need to do in your entire career you can do with Windows ...
... learning a new trick is always a good thing to do.
(2) Start with a machine that you can trash, and no expectations:
Grab the spare machine out of the closet. Go by the Goodwill store and grab a machine. But don't do anything to
your existing Windows machine! Don't dual-boot it, don't repartition it, just leave it alone. Now you can learn Linux without screwing anything up, and you can proceed at your own pace ... which will be slow!
(2a) Start by picking a distro, installing it, and staring at it:
It might not have turned out to be a good choice but it's a good start. Which packages? All
of 'em! (Why not?) Now... Snoop Around...
kick the tires, pop the hood, admire the chrome. "Gee, I wonder what this
does..." Remember, it's a machine that you can completely trash, as many times as you want to, and nothing will be harmed by it. Unless you have a considerably
higher security-clearance than I do ...
... nothing's gonna melt-down or explode.
(3) Don't bad-mouth Linux:
Linux is what is, just as Windows is what it
is, and there's no point in taking out your frustrations on the system.
Just turn it off for the night, go back to the Windows machine, and plan to revisit the Linux project in a couple of days. It'll wait. Cursing and swearing at the natives might feel therapeutic but it's in extremely bad form.
(3a) It is perfectly all-right to continue using both OSes!
Since you have two machines, you can choose and compare. If there's a particular game or system that runs better on one, or that you simply prefer
to run there... do it. It's your application, your machine, your personal preference. Linux won't mind, and neither will Windows. There really isn't a "competition" ... just two solutions to a problem. It's also to be expected that you may prefer, even strongly prefer, one or the other. That's your choice (or your misfortune
...) but from a professional, career
point-of-view, the fact that you have now become familiar with two
systems is "money in the bank." You'll discover that your depth of knowledge of both
Windows and Linux has grown considerably. Linux holds no secrets: if you don't understand something you see going-on in Windows, you can "use the source, Luke!"
and figure it out using Linux.
(4) Keep a diary
of what you've done, what you're planning to do, what questions you have and what answers you found. This lets you approach issues in no particular sequence.
(5) Get to know the search features of this site and of Google:
No matter what question you have, it's been asked before.
(6) Don't set high expectations for yourself:
This system is different, from the ground-up.
Although there are many, many similarities between this and "what you're used to," those differences are subtle. Consequently, since you might be moving from an environment that you know thoroughly to one that you know very little about, the experience may make you feel rather-constantly stupid. You aren't, of course. But the psychology can get to you. Don't take it out on your neighbors, your netizens, or your disk-drive. One purpose of your diary will be to help you sort out what
to focus on next... It is extremely
critical that you pace yourself.
(7) This system is big:
The typical installation of Windows, even "fully maxed-out," is comparatively modest in comparison to where Linux can go. Linux runs on more than 24 different architectures, ranging from IBM mainframes to Apple iPods and various PDAs. It runs on single-processor systems to (literally) hundreds. It can do things that Windows, frankly, cannot dream
of. You're not going to learn it all. Keep a "I'll read it someday"
page in the back of your diary. You may encounter a lot of things before any of it makes sense, but trust me: one by one, the little lights will start coming on.
"Never underestimate a friendly little Penguin until you've seen one coming straight at you going a hundred miles an hour..."
(8) Plan what to do with your "old" Windows machine:
Bet it'll run Linux real good, real soon!