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What exactly will you be using the system for? Just playing around and getting the feel for linux? Will you be programming? Do you just need a word processing / spread sheet program?
If you are just playing around with it, I'd reccomend Knoppix or Gnoppix. If bandwidth is a real problem, and you don't mind working on the commandline, you can get a distro that's under 10 megs. If you want to just be word processing and web browsing, you'd want something like Red-Hat, or Knoppix, or any other distro that has an implementation of XWindows, as well as word processing software and a web browser. If you'll just be programming, than you might be able to get away with a distro with nothing but a floppy sized distribution plus gcc and vi. If you want to set up a firewall or router, than you might like the linuxrouter project. (The computer is just a tool ... I think)
Originally posted by Electro Slackware is good. I would download it through a BitTorrent client like Azureus. Azureus is a Java based BitTorrent so you do not have to go nuts learning a new BitTorrent program for Linux.
BitTorrent does md5sum so on a crappy dial-up connection it will not give you any errors. With BitTorrent you do not have to verify the images after the download to make sure they are alright.
Nobody will give out free CDs unless you supply the CDs.
Oh yeah? Go to the Ubuntu site and fill in the number of free CD's you want!