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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
This guide was created as an overview of the Linux Operating System, geared toward new users as an exploration tour and getting started guide, with exercises at the end of each chapter.
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I started out with, and still using, Mandrake. As a complete noob, I downloaded and installed Linux before I even knew this site existed! So in a nutshell, I would recommend Mandrake. Easy install, good hardware support, good intro to Linux.
Distribution: Fedora Core 2, DeLi Linux 0.6.1, Slackware 10.0
I would suggest that you start with a Live CD, like Knoppix "http://iso.linuxquestions.org/version.php?version=44". Just burn the iso to a CD and you can boot from it to the Linux world.
You can play, learn and see if you like Linux without installing anything to your computer.
If you like it then you can move on
you can either install Knoppix to your hard disk
to move to a differrent distro
as detpenguin said: Mandrake, Fedora and Suse distros are pretty user friendly, and easy to install.
I'll speak up for SuSE, I am also a noob and I have used Redhat, Mandrake, and now SuSE. I really like all of them but SuSE just has a really well put together platform, and a great look and feel to it. It recognized all of my hardware with no issues at all.
im a masoquist newb and am starting out with Debian Sarge /w 2.6.7 kernel. Having alot of trouble, but its worth it :P. Also have a knoppix CD, works like a charm. If you wanna fool around Knoppix is great, just put it in, boot it, it identifies it all but itself and does it all without any complication and you're in, with everything, i wish my install of linux was like knoppix.