When I used rpm based distros, I only ever installed distro specific rpms i.e. mandrake/suse/whatever rpms. Because when I tried ones not set up for my OS I ALWAYS ended up in "dependency hell".
That way (distro specific rpms) I never had any problems.
and if you're new to linux, then I say give the mandrake discs a whirl.
Once you're "au fait" with that, then move away from rpm based distro, maybe slack or gentoo (IMO gentoo's better, because of portage package management), or even debian (or one of the derivatives) - then you don't have to worry about upgrade cycles and stuff!