Welcome to Linux.
As above posts relate, user forums and wikis are where you want to be. I will not counter these wise suggestions except to say that I can give you a little of my experience and hope it helps.
1. Allow yourself about several months of testing before settling on a distro. As a general rule, the more mainstream distros will have a larger user base and therefore more readily accessible answers. (There are awesome smaller distros out there like Vectorlinux, Knoppix and Kanotix but they just don't have the user base for alot of support) Once you do, resist the temptation to distro-hop as it will postpone the inevitable learning curve. Once you familiarize yourself with one distro, you can think about branching out. Here's my list of favorites: full featured distros ->Mandriva and PCLinuxOS (have used these for business for two years now), Xandros (xtremely well laid out and user friendly), Mepis, CentOS (boring but very mature) and for lighter distros-> VectorLinux and Kanotix (not sure about its future though).
2. How to test? Live CDs is safest. Next (although more involved) is to pickup a dedicated second hand PC (Plll's w/256RAM and 10gb HD can be had for about $75) and start with some installations. Go ahead and trash this PC....learn as you trash.
3. Decide if you're a command line or GUI person. If you are a GUI then decide which one you prefer (KDE, XFce or GNOME). This will help steer you to the right distribution.
4. Really learn the art of google....one word....its placement or even its ommision in a search query can mean the difference between success and frustration.
5. Try the 30/60 rule. give yourself a limit of about 30 minutes to research something then try for about 60 min. to make it work . If no results, try a different tack and/or come back to it later.
6. Only use serial port hardware based modems for dialup connections and don't use AOL. If you use DSL...disregard this.
7. Be aware that coming from the Windows world, the concept of frontends and backends is important.
8. After a successful installation, immediately backup your xorg.conf and your /etc/fstab files.
9. As a general rule, when first learning, ONLY USE those applications that are designed for YOUR PARTICULAR distribution. (generally downloadable) from your distros repositories. Later you can get wild and install from scratch.
10. I have found that most "problems" are due to either a module (driver) is not loaded, a process or (daemon) is not turned on, or a permission is not set properly. Permissions have eaten my lunch on many occasions. This is frustrating but also is what makes Linux so secure.
10. Have fun!
11. If you noticed two tens you'll do fine with Linux
Hope this helps
Edited by Trio3b, 21 October 2007 - 12:08 AM.