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There are viruses for Linux, but they are 'proof-of-concept', they show that it is possible under certain conditions, but only a couple (and I do mean a couple) were in the wild. And the things they exploit are now fixed.
Far more likely is that, if you use your box to serve files to Windows pcs and servers, that you will pass on a virus in an infected file or email without realising it. ClamAV and F-Prot do free for personal use virus guards.
It matters not which distro you use, they are as safe or as unsafe as each other. Don't forget that a firewall is necessary regardless - try GuardDog or Firestarter as easy to use and install. (Although Mandy has one built in, so you don't have to do it unless you have turned off the inbuilt firewall).
It depends if it's a desktop or server. I assume the first option
The most important thing is to turn off all unnneded services. Run MDK Control Center -> System -> DrakxServices. They all have a short description. If you're unsure - ask.
Then the firewall. Mandrake firewall will do. In your case it'd be rather simple - you don't need any services visible from outside.
I would also like to add that many problems one might run into can be significantly minimized or even avoided by not running as root. If all users stuck to this principle, the creation of this crap in linux would be all that more difficult.
As it was stated above, viruses for linux are simply proof of concept at this point. There have been no major attacks of the linux community. If you would feel safer running an antivirus product, go to www.avast.com and install avast for linux. It's free and good.
I checked the Avast AV for linux a few weeks ago in Mexico City. I believe (may be wrong, of course) that it is only free for a 30 day trial. Then, it will cost around $150 minimum for license for ten computers.
I had some difficulty understanding, but finally concluded it is being sold for linux servers which service Windows computers in internal networks. and the definitions provided are for the Windows virii so they are captured before entering the LAN and infecting them.
In any case, now that you are alerted to my belief, you can quickly ascertain for yourself if I am correct.
I do really like Avast better than McAfee and Symantec because it automatically updates each time you boot and connect to the Web, andf it only adds incrementally so updating is really trivial but really current at all times. It is at this time free for Win machines, but I am predicting after they build a strong group of supporters, they will start charging, but this is only personal opinion since it could also be a way of attracting corporate clients.
Spyware in linux is pretty much non-existant. Pretty much all spyware is written specifically for the win32 platform and therefore can't run in linux without your prior knowlege... Manually installing and manually launching the program through WINE. While I don't think I could find a single person that would want to do that, that is the only way it is possible. The only exception to this is tracking cookies which are pretty harmless. If you want to keep these at bay, dump your cookies periodically.
As far as virii, you probably have a better chance of getting struck by lightning, winning the lottery, AND getting abducted by aliens than getting a virus on a standalone machine.
Spyware is IMHO more dangerous than viri (but the danger is still very low). I'm not aware of any example, but it's not that hard to write. The simple rule not to get spyware is to install only software from trusted sources.