Linux or Windows...a little confused
I'm currently using windows XP home edition, which crashed only 1 time thus far (bought general parts for the computer in summer of 2003) because of a cpu fan failure (fixed now), and thinking about switching to a different OS. I hear alot of talk about Redhat linux, but there are so many other listed types (Mandrake, Debian, Gentoo, FreeBSD) available to use. If anything I'm looking into this for change, not for stability reasons, windows has treated me nicely so far...
My main question is which version would be most beneficial to use on a home pc that is used for gaming, 3d editing and animation (3dsmax4 currently), general word processing, movie/mp3 use as well as Nomad Muvo NX compatibility, online multiplayer gaming, college network compatability and firewall options.
I'm also not sure of which programs will be compatable once I install a new OS, but from what I can gather linux has their own separate programs for running internet connections, Apache and Mplayer etc...I also have basic knowledge in c, c++ java, html/xtml so the learning curve for creating gui's and other programs in linux shouldnt be that difficult.
Would there be any way to directly transfer the files currently on my 120 gb windows xp home based hard drive to the 160 gb if I install a new OS (say linux) on the 160, or would I need to get one computer up and running with windows and hook it up through my home network to the other one and use an ftp type program...lotta stuff I'm not sure about.
I'm tired of windows and want to try something new and this seems to be a step in the right direction. Any suggestions would be appreciated, this will probably turn into a summer task, reading the manual and all after college is out.