I have been busy this past week or two looking at all of the different distributions. I must say I am very impressed. The most amazing is the Live CD. For those that do not know it is an entire OS that is on one CD and loads and configures in RAM. So you can get to look at linux safely behind your Window world.
After trying the top 6 distributions I settled on a fast rising number 2 in the list called SimplyMepis... I like the Window environent of KDE. It is not a copy of Windows but it does have a nice comfortable feel.
This automatic installation does allow you to keep your existing Windows should you decide to install it to the hard drive. I now have 98se on one partition, XP on another and Mepis on another. And yes, all on a Lapptop.
The one thing I did have trouble with, and almost everyone has trouble with from what I read... was getting my Winmodem to work in Linux. On a desktop I would have popped in a new non-win modem. On my laptop the Winmodem was built in. Yes, I could have popped in a pcmcia modem but it was more a matter of pride that I kept at it... I did get it to work... to the amazement of some old time linux users. I did drop in an older slower ppcmcia card while I was testing the different disributions. I did not have the strength to get the winmodem working in each distribution that I tried and it would not have been fair to try a distribution without letting it connect to the internet and get the latest updates.Which brings me to my last point. Linux is wonderful in letting you install and update over the internet. In closing, if you must use a dialup modem and you want to use windows it would be in your best interest to get a good NON-winmodem. I have been asked to do a writeup on how I got my Dell non-winmodem to work in linux. The instructions are already three pages long and involve downloading and working with the source code for the kernel. Not for the faint of heart.
Aside from trying to configure hardware that was designed only for windows you will LOVE the new linux...
FYI, sell your Microsoft stock... Linux is comming and comming fast.