Question ( and this is as much to satisfy my own curiosity as anything else); why do you mention Debian and Gentoo as part of your move from Windows?
What have you heard about them? I'm guessing you must have some previous Linux experience; because Debian (very stable, and the basis for so many other distros) is not one I would recommend to a beginner. The installer isn't the most logical, to anyone coming from Windows, for a start...
And Gentoo, well.....it would make a fair number of seasoned Linux users blanch at the the thought of using it! Seriously. Although the process is apparently far more automated these days, it seems you still need to compile nearly everything you want to run yourself, from source code.....like in the early days, 25 years ago.
For beginners, Linux has moved on a long way. There are many distros out there that are so much simpler not only to use, but also to install. Two that spring to mind are Ubuntu, and Linux Mint. I don't use either myself, but we have a large group of enthusiastic users on here who will be more than happy to help you get up-and-running with either of them.
With either of these, a USB install is usually more along the lines of a LiveCD-type of experience, although it's possible to permanently save stuff by means of what is known as 'persistence'.
Or, there's Puppy Linux. Which I use myself, and which from its inception more than 12 years ago, was designed to run, from a USB stick, as a full operating system.....from the word go.
There's many to choose from out there.....but your choices would not be mine for a beginner.
Edited by Mike_Walsh, 30 October 2016 - 01:48 PM.
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