I will second the recommendation to burn some Live CDs, boot to them, and do some experimenting.
I started with Slackware, quite by accident, and I'm glad I did. I've used it quite happily for over five years.
If you learn your way around Slackware, no other Linux distro will ever intimidate you, and the Slacker community is quite welcoming and supportive. Just make sure you ask specific questions and tell them what you've tried.
Slackware and Debian are my favorites. I also like CentOS, even though it has a rep as a server OS. It's quite easy to use.
Although I use Ubuntu because it came on my laptop and the wireless works with the Broadcom chip, I am not a big Ubuntu fan, though it does live up to its promises--it works. I particularly do not like Ubuntu's default disabling of the root login and the su
command, but sudo su
is a good workaround. I just don't like having extra hurdles to jump in order to do administrative tasks.
Here are some resources I've found especially useful:
About dot com's intro to Linux
. It's oriented to Ubuntu, but the information is solid. I wish it had been around when I started.
. It's Slackware-oriented, so it's very good on basics, such as permissions, file structure, the command line, and the like.
Garrels's Introduction to Linux
. Extremely detailed and very thorough.
Linux is different from Windows. There is a learning curve. But in the long run it's much easier.
Welcome to Linux.