The world of Linux is broad and diverse to say the least. Linux is actually a free, open source operating system that has many unique features. Although many people shy away from Linux there is no reason not to try it anymore. The release of several different types of Linux (called distributions) on "live CD/DVD" means that you can try Linux without the hassle of installing it. Because of the fact it is released under the GNU (General public license) it has been shaped and coded to fit on many devices not just PC's (Playstation 3, Ipod and Nintendo DS to name a few). Most Linux distributions are available for free download using "Bit Torrent", which is a P2P method for sharing large files. To download a Torrent you will need to download and install a Bit Torrent client, such as Azureus, which is also free.
Switching to Linux
If your considering a move to Linux from Windows leave yourself a backup plan. Although Linux is better in many ways it also has shortcomings that most Windows users will find frustrating. Start your Linux experience off slow by using a "Live CD" and as you become accustom to the inner workings of the OS you can always make the installation permanent.
The first thing your going to realize when you load whichever distribution of Linux is, it's similar to Windows but at the same time very different. Most of the programs your used to running will not work in Linux although there may be "just as good" or "better" equivalents in Linux, you still may need to exchange files with other PC's and use certain software designed for Windows.
So why bother using Linux if it can't do everything Windows can do? Well for one thing Linux is a much safer operating system, avoiding the virus scene that plagues Windows, and you have nothing to lose by trying it because it is completely free. So keep your Windows OS for your required applications and use Linux as a Multiboot, in a virtual machine or just off the live CD until the day comes when we no longer need Bill's buggy software.
Live Linux cd/DVD distributions
To use a live CD/DVD you will have to download an ISO (disk image) and then burn the image to a CD or DVD depending on the distribution. Next you will have to start your PC and boot from the CD/DVD. Alternately you could use a virtual computer to run the OS from within Windows. Here are a few of my favorites:
Here are some of the more popular distributions available to download: