As iam a newbie to linux. And really do not what to expect. I just got my self a copy of Knoppix 3.9. It works execellent on my system. And it should on yours to. An execellent way getting to know linux and to learn what linux really can do for you. It is even more than that. If your windoze system crashes. Put in knoppix live cd - which is bootable. And retrieve your important files. It has many futures Iam not going to list it now. You should do some searches or visit knoppix.net for more detials and downlaod it today.
Knoppix gave me real confidance to try linux on my system now
Ps. It runs from your cd drive only and does not touch your windoze install.