ntfs write support is an option in the 2.6 kernel (as it was in 2.4 - the module is called ntfs). but its not encouraged to write onto ntfs from linux, so it's better you dont do it.
i would suggest getting things sorted out on your redhat system before moving to debian/slack. its just that redhat is excellent to learn things from without losing a lot of time by working at a more user-friendly level (there are redhat-config-xxx scripts for virtually all you might need). once you've got things running fine on redhat, and you've picked up some basic things bout the system, then consider moving (if you want).
you dont necessarily need to get the latest version of everything (kernel 2.6, rh9, slack9,mdk9...). i would suggest you get the latest stable 2.4 (because doing the config is not gonna be easy firs time round)kernel source tarball from kernel.org, use the config file that was made when you installed your system first time, enable ntfs "read" support only, and then carry on to 2.6 or some other distro. once you get the hang of it, then do whatever.
of course, its all moot if you have a lot of spare time to play with the system.