This is the last post for this thread. What I hoped to accomplish for my fellow geek girls is a sort of blogged experience of the transition from Windows to Linux, and I think it's worked out well.
Here's what I've learned.
(1) Linux is addictive. I tried a few live cds, installed Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Mandriva 2008.1 with KDE 3.5, and Mandriva 2008.1 with KDE 4.1. Though the last choice isn't as well configured and easy to work with as Ubuntu, it's the one I've settled on. I LUUUUUUUUUURRRRRRRVVVVVVVVVVEEEEEEEEEE Compiz Fusion; it's absolutely beautiful!
(2) You had better know how to ask questions properly in forums and how to search for answers on your own before asking anyway.
(3) Installing stuff is hard. I still haven't figured out how to compile and install programs on my own, though I'll get around to it. (Dude. Don't believe people who tell you just to run the ./configure, make, make install commands, it never works like they tell you to, and there's apparently about six OTHER things you're supposed to know about before you can actually do that, like about your shell, path variables, and other stuff).
(4) Installing stuff from repositories is easy. On Mandriva, using RPM is much easier than you'd think, after you've got RPM set up properly. Ubuntu's apt-get thingy is also full of awesome.
(5) Don't panic if you think you've just screwed yourself by installing something or compiling something. The worst case scenario is that you wipe your root partition and reinstall your chosen OS, which is pretty easy, and takes very little time.
(6) BACK YOUR $#1% UP! Have another drive, and be CERTAIN you've got everything you need on ANOTHER drive from the one you're installing your OS on--another DRIVE, not just another partition.
(7) I haven't found too many things I can't do in Linux that I CAN do in Windows. There are only a few programs that I miss, like TimeLeft and Aquarius PC Alarm Clock Pro. KAlarm seems to work just fine as a substitute, but I DO miss the ease of use of those programs.
(8) I have ZERO pirate guilt right now. (We aren't talking about tv shows, though...LOL. Better not expect me to give up Grey's Anatomy and The Shield).
(9) If you're going to switch to Linux, be prepared to join a community of users. That means that not only do you have the need to find solutions to your usage, like how to play your music and write your papers, but you also have the responsibility to post your solutions to the problems you've solved in the proper place. When you figure out how to port your data and it took you forever and reading other people's solutions to do it, POST your solution in the same place you found help, so that other people can read about your travails. This also means that you need to give feedback to the people who take their time to write free software for you to use. If you don't ever develop anything for Linux, at least tell people who are in a position to do so about what worked and what didn't for you, so that they can incorporate solutions to problems.
(10) Men are dumb. If you're a girl switching to Linux, you will get jackasses all over the web who will condescend to you and tell you to go buy a Mac. Two solutions: change your avatar name from "LOLKittyLurveHeart17" to "BadAzzComedian69" and watch the attitudes change instantaneously, or: learn your $#1% and bask in the power of root when you tell them to buzz off. I have chosen to implement both solutions; the second one is taking longer, but is--so far--immensely emotionally satisfying.
(11) If you have screwed your partitions and can't access your data, here's what to do: download and burn a copy of the Ubuntu live cd. Use that to boot your machine. When you've done so, open a terminal window, type in "su" to get root permissions, and recursively use the "chmod" command to change the directory permissions on everything in your partitions (so you can copy and move stuff around away from the root partition you've screwed and are about to format for a fresh OS install), cuz you don't get automatic root permissions for fiddling with your data when booting from a live cd. This is where it is GOOD to have a backup drive like a USB drive or something so you don't lose stuff. It took me HOURS to figure this stuff out, so hopefully it helps you all. (Obviously, go read up on su and chmod to understand how to use them) You might have to use the mount command to mount internal or external drives and partitions to get access to your stuff; the partitions and drives are found in the /dev/ directory. My second internal hard drive is called sdb1, and I mount it by using this command as root (and after having created the /media/secondDrive directory with the mkdir command): "mount /dev/sdb1 /media/secondDrive". Don't use the quotes. You can actually mount the hard drives or partitions anywhere you want, though I haven't gotten all the bugs worked out of that one yet. Hopefully, that will save you if you get into trouble.
And now you actually GET the joke!!
(13) Seriously. Though there are dumb men out there, there are also many nice geeks who have begged me for my number, cuz smart chicks are hot. May the OSS be with you, chicas!