Originally Posted by Beebourn
I am not convinced that Linux is completely safe to use for on line banking
I am not convinced that online banking is completely safe, period. Well, no it can't
be completely safe - very few things are - as there have been incidents, and although those involved say that those threats have been obviated, sometime someone will find a new exploit.
...without a firewall and anti virus software installed.
All desktop or server distros (AFAIK) come with a firewall system. This is Iptables, but it is basically a programming language for firewalls. What you would probably be happier with is one of the systems like guarddog/guidedog/firestarter, etc, etc that are 'easy to use' front ends to the IPTABLES system.
As usual, the first place to go for software is the package manager installed on your system. Search for 'firewall'. There should be a selection of firewall packages (gui front ends for Iptables) so try what your distro supplies and see how you get on with it.
Your best and easiest protection against viruses is never to engage in practices that make virus infection more likely (so only install software via trusted repositories, never mess with .doc files in a way that allows macros to run,...). As an extra measure a scanner can't hurt...