Choosing a Linux Distribution
Once you have your hardware, you need a Linux distribution. This is another hard decision for new users because there are a lot of distributions and flavors. After you learn one, you will not be satisfied until you check them all.
I checked out two distributions, which were more geared towards beginners, Mandrake and Red Hat.
Mandrake had better utilities and was much easier to use. It supports FAT, FAT32 and NTFS. Version 9.1 comes with the ability to resize your partition. Mandrake also has a very nice control panel for system administration. The good news is that it is based on Red Hat but modified for ease of use.
Red Hat supports FAT, but does not support NTFS, and if you need to dual boot, you need Fat partitions.
However both have very nice GUI's (graphical User Interface). If you are an experienced user, there are other flavors such as Suse, Debian, Slackware, and other distributions. If you learn one distribution the rest will be just as easy. The configuration files are basically the same. The difference is in the location of these configuration files.
The desktop may look different but all of them either run KDE or Gnome as its default graphical interface and all depend on the X-server.
No matter which distribution you use, you will need exactly the same thing. Most of the new distributions now come with automatic hardware detection. If for some reason your hardware is not detected you can still configure it manually.