I would encourage you getting serious with Linux. But be careful - it might become the focal point of your life - like mine
I do not know the reason why you want to install Linux on the hard drive when you can use a live cd instead.
Anyway if you wanna start with something simple I may recomend Mandivra - very simple - one place to configure it all. Debian is 'the' best - however you need to wait until you are familliar with the command line.
Another good one is Suse - go for it if you want good graphics. The 3-D graphics that Suse provides (not to mention KDE4) is worth looking at