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you can use openbox, it is a very small (memory footprint, light weight wm) window manager.
Instead of vmware I use virtualbox (sun microsystems), but there's no reason why it should not work.
IMHO, kde4 is window$ like, it offers all/most(?) the tools you may need.
Including open-office. and printing capabilities.
Graphics manipulation? GIMP. There's not many distro's that won't do what you want.
It's just a matter of How much do you need.
I'm sure you'll find a GNU/Linux solution to fit your situation.
Personally, I use Mandriva (Full gui desktop) and slax on a flash drive