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Which distribution to use depends all on you. Linux is all about choices, the choice you make. So visit Top 10 @DistroWatch
, download some of them and try them out. By trying them out I mean that most of them have a LiveCD/LiveDVD from which you can boot (after burning it of course) and have a look at what it offers and if it detects your hardware correctly. All that without installing anything to your harddisk. The best distro for you is the one you stick with after trying out multiple distros. Each one has his advantages and disadvantages.
You don't have to do everything in one 'sitting', you decide when and what you want to try and do. When you've chosen your distro then you prepare to install. Normally if you take it one step at the time and ask questions when in doubt there's no permanent damage that any Linux distro will cause. The only permanent damage you could cause is deleting all the data you have currently on your harddisk. So before starting installing stuff, make sure you have a good (verified) backup of all your data.
If you want to start learning Linux, then just start by downloading and trying. The best way to learn Linux in my opinion is to get your hands dirty, search Google when in doubt and when you cannot find satisfactory answers, turn to LQ for clarification and solutions, that's what this community does best, help out Linux users where help is needed.
Have fun with Linux.