Eggs sticky contans links to a lot of good and usefull info but I thought I'd try to put together a little Newbee-FAQ based on what seems to be the most frequent questions by users new to Linux. It is by far not finished so please suggest any changes, additions and corrections you think it needs. I hope it turns out to be usefull.
*What dist is best for me?
There is really no way of telling because different people want different things. Now the beauty of linux (one of many...) is that you do have a choice and that you can adapt it to your own taste. If you are new to Linux a good place to start is with one of the major rpm-based dists as they are easy to install, do a lot of the legg work for you and have a nice selection of GUI tools to manage the system. These are:
SuSE - http://www.novell.com/linux/suse/index.html
Fedora - http://fedora.redhat.com
Mandrake - http://www.mandrakelinux.com
If you like to tinker and get more under the hood of linux then these might interest you:
Gentoo - http://www.gentoo.org
Debian - http://www.debian.org
Arch Linux - http://www.archlinux.org
Slackware - http://www.slackware.org
Out of these Gentoo is the one that to my knowledge requires most tinkering and above all compiling, if you do a stage 1 install of gentoo expect it too crunsh numbers for a day or two before you get a desktop and some usefull apps installed. Now you dont have to go with these dists to poke around in the inner workings of your system its just that they require you to have, or gain (painfully in some cases...), more knowledge about your system.
*RPM, Deb, Tar, Run??
These are package files that most software for linux ships in.
*How do I install appication x?
Read the instructions. That might seem like a daft answer but not all software is created equally. Now while a lot of Tar packages will install using the "configure, make, make install" command sequence and you allways install a RPM package with rpm -i it pays of to read the requirements.
*Application X says it needs Y and Z to work.
Something you will encounter sooner or later in the world of Linux are dependancies. When you install a piece of software in Linux it may require some other bit of code to work, this is known as a dependancy. Some package formats checks against your system whilst RPM checks agains a database of installed packages, something that could cause problems if you are trying to install an RPM that requires another piece of software that you installed from a Tar package. Sometimes there is however no way around this and then you can force the RPM package to install ignoring the failed dependancies. If your dist supports tools like APT or Gentoos 'emerge' you then have a very neat way of downloading and installing everything the particular piece of software you are trying to install needs. That said if you install an RPM package with a RPM tool like SuSEs YaST it will try to solve any dependancies for you.
*How do I multi-boot?
The easiest way it to use linux bootloader to start windows. The major dists will do this for you as long as you install windows first and then then Linux. When you install linux pay attention to that it doesnt label drives and partitions like windows does. The master drive on the first IDE chain is called hda the slave hdb. Primary partitions start on the number 1 and extended on 5.
*What filesystem should I use for Linux?
Linux uses its own and as per usual there are loads of them to choose from . The more popular choises that many distros defaults to are Ext2/Ext3 and ReiserFS. Linux can read and write to FAT/32 filesystems (partitions) but only read NTFS with a maintained level of data integrety (ie without having you reach for your backup). I would recommend sticking with Ext3 or ReiserFS unless you need some of the specifics in for example XFS.
*What about RAID?
Lots of motherboards comes with RAID these days, the thing is that it is software RAID and as such Linux will most likely not support it. If you want to use RAID you can either use Linux built-in software RAID or pay for propper hardware RAID. The thing is that real HW RAID is not cheap, the cheepest SATA HW RAID cards that I've found starts at about $130 for a two channel card with 4-channel solutions around the $350 mark. If you are still interested check out http://www.3ware.com/ and http://www.adaptec.com .
*What graphics card should I use with Linux?
You can use pretty much any card you like for 2D but if you want to do anything involving hardware accelerated 3D you need a nVidia card, their drivers are the only ones worthy of the name.
*Where is C?
One of the things you have to get used to if you move over to Linux from that other OS is that there are no drive letters. Instead Linux uses a root structure that starts with the root, symbolised by a '/', and then unfolds downwards into a set of folders known as mountpoints, for example '/boot' and '/home'. A mountpoint is in essance a folder that has been told to contain a filesystem, be it local or remote. What this means is that you home folder could be on you HDD or on a server in Luxenburg and you woulndt know the differance.
See this link for more info http://www.freeos.com/articles/3102/
*Where is 'my documents'?
In Linux a users playground is its 'home' folder, all documents and application settings are stored here (if you think it looks neat have a look at it showing hidden folders and files...). You can also install applications here if you dont need (or have permission) to install them system wide.
*Can I play games in Linux?
If you can find them yes. The only two major releases that Im aware of in 2004 for Linux was Doom 3 and Unreal Tournament 2004, the later comes with an installer on the DVD whereas you have to download a separate installer for D3. There is a way around this and it's called Cedega. The flipside to the Cedega coin is that it costs money and there is no guarantee that the game you wish to play works so check their site for a list of supported games and current prices. http://www.transgaming.com
*What about drivers?
Just as in the world of windows it is the hardware manufacturer that's responsible for the drivers to their products. In some cases the driver have been made open-source by the manufacturer or the comunity have whipped one up all by themselvs, such drivers might even be included in the kernel. Note that drivers in the world of Linux is refered to as modules.
*Where do I type all these commands?
All commands goes into the console, most of the time on a GUI driven dist you need to use the the root account to make console commands work. In Linux the administrator is known as 'root' and within that specific system that account reigns supreme. You open up a console and then 'su' or 'su -' (the dash makes you enter the root environment where as you otherwise just promote the current user to Super User) type you root password and then you are done. Be carefull though since root can go anywhere and do anything!