You can get the kernel version by typing at a command line:
You can read the XP drives in linux simply by mounting them or adding the appropriate lines in the /etc/fstab file. If your XP drives are NTFS, writing to NTFS is still experimental I think. If they are fat32 you are set.
You cannot read linux file systems in windows without 3rd party software. There are drivers for doing that, www.fs-driver.org
is one. Never used it so nuff said about that.
Hope this helps