Yes, you are going to learn--and if you have a laptop you are going to darn near be a guru before you are done.
[[This was originally not redundant, but I type very slowly.]]
Go to RedHat. You will find the RedHat installation Guide and the RedHat Customization Guide. READ THEM. This will give you an overview of the services and custom settings you will want for your laptop--or any other machine.
*****This is step one to becoming a linux god--read the friendly manuals.******** A fresh newcomer to linux will go insane trying to read "Man pages" or "Info-pages". Until you read the Installation Guides and Customization Guides most of the Linux Documentation will be frustrating and confusing. (I've taken Linux administration I, II and III and still find stuff to be confusing.)
Don't get too frustrated, no one can know it all. And you certainly won't learn it over-night.
If you sit and think about it, you didn't learn windows all at once either. With linux, you are a full-fledged administrator on your machine. No one is doing it for you. ( Windows administration is very much the same thing, much of the higher-level functionality in windows is very difficult to learn.) The difference is in windows the stuff is hidden.
is your friend. Google everything about your laptop there.
for X-window stuff. This is your video. [[Savage chips are supported, there is specific information on the different Savage chips here.]]
1) Setting up high performance graphics can be a pain in linux. The video chipset, the drivers, the xserver, and additional services have to matched up and tweaked. Especially for laptops.
[[Laptop HowTo--read it.]]
2) The set-up of linux is just the beginning. In order to get full functionality, you need to match the sound chips in your laptop to the drivers and servers. Then, after tweaking, you configure the applications for playing Media files and such. Most of the time it is not as bad as it sounds--some times it is.
[[I forgot about all of that. I just downloaded all of the the decoders and everything when they were available and forgot about it. Sorry.]]
3) If it is an old printer, chances are someone wrote drivers for it. Keep looking. You need to go to http://www.linuxprinting.org
they have the printer database there. And the linux printing HowTo.
4) In order to compile from source you need some of the development stuff on your computer. You need kernel sources and header files, the actual packages you want to compile, any dependencies taken care of, the different language libraries, and the gcc compiler. In short, Yes.
5) Read the Linux Customization Guide mentioned above.
6) A properly set-up and configured linux system does not crash unless you are really brutal. A good way to crash linux is to push a misconfigured video or sound adapter. Another way is to try to play 3d accelerated games on a 2-D adapter. ( My old ATI 3d rage pro 8meg video card on my linux box would lock everything up trying to play tux-racer--A P-II 350 with an 8 meg adapter will not play a modern game.)