Welcome to LQ!
Basically, yes, there will be partitioning of the new drive which will have linux on it. You should make at least 2 partitions:
/ (aka root)
Other have several partitions and some (like me) have only 3: /, /swap, and /home.
The only software you will need to install to get up and running is on the install CD for what ever distribution you're wanting to install.
If you're ever stuck or having any problems, you've come to the right place for help.
Enjoy your stay.