A few poitners for newbies
I'm not a techie, but I'm not a phobic either. In Windows, I've played weith the settings (even the registry) a bit. I really lost the plot somehwere around Windows 3.1. That's when everything got too hard, and it was easier just to go with the flow. About that time my eldest son got old enough to know more about computers than me so it was easier to let him fix problems for me!
I've recently set up a dual boot sytem, and it was much harder than I anticipated. So here's a few things I've learned.
1. Make sure you've got heaps of time. It will take ten times longer than you expect!
2. Make sure you've got heaps of hard disk space. I started out with a 4 gig hard drive and thought from what I read that 2 gigs would be enough to install Linux. Wrong! Yes you can get Linux operating on a 2 gig partition, but you won't be able to install all the packages on your CDs and they will become necessary as you start to install software. Make sure you have enough space on your Linux partition to install EVERYTHING!
3. When you try to partition the hard drive, the first thing you have to do on an existing Windows system is defrag the hard drive to move everything into the first part of the drive. You don't use the Wiindows Defrag program for this. Windows helpfully sticks some data near the end of the drive and marks them as essential for Windows so that the defrag utility does not move them. Use Norton's Speeddisk which will move these blocks. But when you quit Speed disk Windows resumes its "helpful" behaviour, and that data is back there. You need to press the reset button before you quit Speed disk and boot from your Linux CD so that Bill Gates does not re-infect your hard drive before you can make your Linux partition.
4. Absorb all the stuff you can about permissions and users. You will need to tinker with files like /etc/fstab which determine who can access which files and devices.
5. Forget about using True Type fonts for a while at least. Most Linux programs use Type 1 fonts at the moment. You can convert your favourite fonts to Type 1, but I would come to terms with operating under Linux before you try to wrestle with installing fonts. The process is simple when you know how, but you need to know how your particular version of Linux operates and how your software uses fonts.
6. Learn to read all "README" files. I know you never did when you ran Windows but whenever you install anything in Linux, it is nearly always different to just downloaidng and decompressing.Eventually you can guess what needs to happen, but at the start read the README files.
7. Read everyihtng you can get on the net in forums like this. I've found that the first time I read something I didn't understand it, but later when I came across the problem at least I knew where the answer could be found.
8. Ask dumb questions on forums (after you've looked for the answers). Somebody will probably have an answer, and even if it's not the right answer for your system, it may point you towards the right answer. When you work out the right answer post it on the forum so that other people don't have to re-invent the wheel.
9. Try to make a reasonably qiuck transition to using as much Linux software as possible. Don't hang around having a foot in both camps... you will end up spending half your life rebooting your computer.
At the moment I'm using the following software:
Star Office for word processing, database and e-mail... the e-mail function although limited in some ways is actually the best all round performer in areas like reading HTML, attachments etc.
Opera 5 for browsing.. I've found it much more useful than Mozilla.
I'm still dependent on Windows for financial software, but I'm looking at getting Gnucash.
Hope this is helpful for other newbies.