I agree that kanotix would probably be better for you there.
If you wanna use an RPM based distro you can install apt-get into mandy, but it's not that fun. I hate to say this, but if you have no command line experiences, you should start using it. It's the foundation of Linux and incredibally powerful!!! Get crackin'
As soon as I dropped RPM based distros (I heard that the others didn't have dependency hell), I realized something. the only reason Debian doesn't have a "dependency hell" is because it has tons of stuff in its repository. All well and good, but back to my main point. You can install apt-get into Mandy, but it's repositoresi aren't that big, so it's almost worthless.
You'll probably miss the gui admin tools from mandrake if you decide on kanotix, but, really, when you get a system setup, you don't need them anymore anyway (and I subcribe to the arch/slack mentaity of KISS, so text file editing, while daunting at first, makes more sense to me... but i'm weird).
And, just because Ununtu is based on debian doesn't mean it IS debian (although it's close).
And if I'm not mistaken, Kanotix uses the official debian repositories, while (k)ubuntu doesn't.