I am using the enlightenment WM, but in your case I would give xfce 4 a try - never used it but for misterious reasons I think it's small, flexible, fast and easy to use.
I might be saying obvious things, but in order to avoid misunderstandings I tell you that you cannot start directly the window manager. In linux the gui works in a client/server mode, meaning you'll first have to start the server called "X", and after that your WM can be started. So, you should be able to start up X by typing "startx" and that should automatically start as well your window manager. X uses the configuration which is usually stored in a file called "xorg.conf", in my case in the directory "/etc/X11". In that file you could specify "vesa" (no kind of video accelleration) as video driver in order to avoid problems with that kind of stuff, at least until you get the WM working.