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OK! Here is the deal! I have been hearing alot about Linux and want to use it as my OS on my Dell when I wipe the drive (way overdue!) and I need info!

1) Is Linux a free OS and can I download it and save it on a disc to install on a fresh reformat?

2) What version of Linux should I get since I am a daily user of my PC and I am also a gamer. (there is Suse, and a bunch of others that are confusing me!)

3) After my reformat of my PC (Dell Dimension 2350) do I just pop in the CD that I put Linux on and it goes from there?

4) Will I need Windows for any reason at all? I really only want one OS since I have no idea what partitioning my hard-drive is all about.

5) Windows XP is pretty user friendly when installing hardware (Modem, Printer, Sound card, etc) is Linux the same way?

6) After my reformat and installing Linux (if you help me on steps 1-3) will it recognize my FX5200 video card, Creative Soundblaster soundcard, Conexant 56K modem, etc, or is there going to be issues with all this?

I am pretty educated in Microsoft XP, but I have no clue what Linux is all about! Please reply in a "nooB friendly" manner since this is all new to me!
 

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1) Actually, Linux is just the name of the kernel, but most people now refer to it as the entire operating system. It is free, it is open source , and you can download it and burn it to a disc, and in some cases you can even install it on a floppy.

2) Save the gaming for Windows. You can play games on Linux, but Windows is the superior operating system in terms of gaming. You can read all about the different Linux distros here. From what I hear, Ubuntu is very user friendly for Windows users. If you want to download Linux distros, you can get them from LinuxISo_Org.

3) Yes, however, during the installation of your Linux distribution, you will be given the option to delete any partitions that you wish. Whatever works best for you.

4) You may want to keep Windows for gaming, however, Linux usually has software equivalents for almost all Windows software (word processing, music player, messengers, etc.). It would be better if you had an extra computer to test Linux on, however, you can always dual boot and install Windows and Linux on the same hard drive.

5) While Windows tries to make things "idiot proof", you may have to do a little more configuring and thinking depending on what distribution you install. Not all of your hardware will be compatible, but this is usually only true for odd brand names. Also, stay away from Windmodems.

6) If you configure everything properly, you should be able to get those devices working.
 

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Cedega For The Games, But Be Ready to Compile...

Check Out Your Library, They Usually have books on linux.

try starting with something user friendly, like ubuntu or fedora core, they are the main distro's that are popular for newcomers...
 

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I like Mepis Linux for beginners, it focuses more on desktop and visual interfaces than most Linux distros.
You can get all your devices up fairly easily.
As for games, you either need to keep windows on your computer as a secondary partition, or get Cedega, which is a windows emulator.

There is one snag. Conexant is a @#%!? when it comes to Linux. There is a company that makes Linux drivers for Conexant called Linuxant, but they charge a few bucks for the driver. And even when I got the driver (I have a Dell laptop with a conexant modem) I could never get it to work.
If you install Linux you may either need to buy another modem, or have to use an ethernet connection.
 
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