Baker1: Huh... ? Wha... ?
Yes, dual-booting is the way to go - but only after experimenting and settling on one of many, many versions of Linux that are available. The "live" CDs provide a great means to play around with a number of Linux flavors without having to mess around with dual-booting.
Monkpart9: A suggestion for you to try out - PCLinuxOS. It has a very Windows-like look-and-feel and comes with many freeware applications. It appears to have a very good device detection ability and is able to self-configure my network adapter, video card and USB controllers.
Once you get over the disappointment of not having your disk drive partitions showing up as C:, D:, E:, etc., it's pretty easy to get familiarized to how the file system is organized. Another hurdle is discovering what are the names of all the applications that are supplied (free of charge !!). I had to Google just to find out the name of the CD/DVD burning program, K3B. K3B ?! Who named that one ? It appears to be a very capable utility, though. The amazing aspect of it is that it's free, as with all the other 3rd-party applications. Nero costs how much ?
As much as I love and use XP I see that Windows OS's days are numbered. Microsoft is sabotaging it's own efforts in creating new OSs. Vista is a huge, lumbering, and resource-hogging disaster that is being pushed into the market by the sheer momentum of Microsoft. Linux, on the other hand, is efficient and will run on most PCs, though experienced tweaking is often necessary in most versions to getting it to work properly. Novices like me and Monkpart9 don't know (yet) how to reconfigure an installation to get it to work right.
Check out the newsletter. It's very well-written and useful to newbies like me.