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Introduction to Linux - A Hands on Guide
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IMHO, the larger distro's Ubuntu, Red Hat, SuSE, Mandriva may have the most documentation available, if you are thinking of buying a book in the book store. There is a website www.tldp.org that has a large number of books and howto's available for download. Many distro's have wiki's. You might try different distro's to start with and then stick with the one that works best for you. You can also download live distro's and try them out without needing to perform an installation.
Sometimes there is an ironic situation where a distro is easier to use as long as everything works, but harder to understand, because making "everything just work" adds complexity. Most distro's use HAL/udev/dbus to automatically mount external drives. However, doing it manually with a mount command is a lot simpler to understand. If a drive doesn't automount, it can be difficult finding out what the problem is. ( In this case you can still manually mount the filesystem. )
There may be some magazines in the bookstores that come with a DVD every month. That is a great way to introduce yourself to different Linux distro's. Sometimes they will have a special issue on just that distro, where the entire magazine covers installation and the features of that distro. These magazines tend to be published in England but are available in chain book store in other countries, such as Barnes & Nobels in the US.
Also, look in the distrowatch website. They cover all distro's released.
1. After a few replies here, stop reading and "just do it".
2. Anything in the top ten on the "hit list" at http://distrowatch.com is a good place to start
3. Start with a CD, not a DVD. A CD give you a good basic installation, and it is easy to install more software using the package manager.
It should create a bootable CD, so just ensure your BIOS is set to check the CD drive a boot time, then follow the prompts.
Here's a good linux tutorial (not UBUNTU specific) http://rute.2038bug.com/index.html.gz
Having had Fedora, Ubuntu, Mandriva and Linux Mint on my hard drive, I would recommend Linux Mint for you. Linux Mint is basically Ubuntu with all the multimedia codecs built in. Linux Mint also has a lot of other improvements and cool inovations compared with Ubuntu as well, and most of the tutorials concerning Ubuntu are also valid for Linux Mint.