Alright, so I've been sick of Windows for a while now. It's slow (specifically on my netbook), they ask money for everything and anything, except when they install stuff on your computer that you neither want nor need, but have no bloody choice over. Wait, scratch that, even then they're bound to ask you money for it. Also, you can't de-install quite some of the stuff one might want to de-install (*coughinternetexplorercough*).
When I first came into contact with computers I was about 9, the computers ran DOS and I actually got pretty good at figuring it all out pretty quickly. Back when we first got our own computer at home (some 2 or 3 years later), we had a computer than ran Windows 3.11 and I must admit I was master and dictator of the system. My mom couldn't use it, my sister wasn't interested, my brother screwed it up whenever he touched anything but preinstalled stuff (and even then...) so I made the system settings into what I wanted them to be (which admittedly led to a lot of crashes and my neighbour coming over to fix it again) but also allowed me to learn and change whatever I wanted or needed. Windows these days is a complete different matter. With each new (and more 'user friendly' *rolls eyes*) version of Windows, you could change less, and these days they make it so hard to change even the simplest options that I often end up wanting to kick it.
Anyway, my housemate and me were talking about installing Linux yesterday. This would solve a lot for me, including the fact that I'm running windows 7 on a windows XP machine and it's bloody slow, but I CAN'T DEINSTALL IT because I don't have a bloody external CD drive (or, in fact, money). Open-source stuff would fix all that very nicely indeed.
So we come to my question; Which Linux distribution? What interface? Stuff like that. It's a whole new wide world, with a whole new vocabulary that I'm not fluent in, and too many options to count. I've been hearing from a lot of people that, as a starting linux user, Ubuntu is the way to go because it's quick, easy and pretty comparable. The way I see it though, that makes it exactly the same as windows; It comes with a shitload of things pre-installed (which... Oh, right, is one of the boons I have with windows) only this time you get firefox rather than internet explorer... Which is, of course, an improvement, but still.
My housemate was talking about Arch, which is about as basic as they can make it, I think, and I rather like the sound of that, but everyone warns me away from it because you have to do everything yourself and apparently if you're not a nerd extraordinaire that is really hard? I don't know, I never tried... And am kind of scared that once I install Arch, I can't go back to windows. I know Ubuntu can be ran side by side with windows, does anyone know if Arch does the same? Supposedly there's a very specific guide on installing it and getting everything you need, and since I do have two laptops, I should be able to have that up while actually doing the installing.
Any other systems that I should know about? And does anyone have any tips, tricks, whatever for an about-to-begin linux user? Anything you want to gush about because you love it so much? :P