Seriously.. it's a couple of bucks for a live cd.. if you're that cheap.. get a few ppl to chip in and you can share it..
heck, do you have any friends? if you don't want to use much bandwidth, get a friend to download/burn damnsmalllinux (http://www.damnsmalllinux.org
) - under 50megs!
if you don't even want to use a CD, do you have a portable USB stick? you can do a boot off one of those with damnsmalllinux. ***// changes are saved ... it's just like a harddrive install... I recommended this for your purposes //***
you can even muck around with console linux from a bootable floppy - http://www.toms.net/rb/
- not graphics though, I don't think this is what you want