Replace Windows XP with Linux



I am thinking about replacing Windows XP with Linux.
I have a Dell Inspiron 1525. Intel Core 2 Duo CPU. T8300 @ 2.4GHz. 2.39GHz, 2.99 GB of Ram. 300GB hard drive.
When I was in high school I got my A+ certification, but that was with Windows 98 and DOS, so I realize a lot has changed since then, but I do understand the basics of computers. I was wondering what would be the best version of Linux to install on my computer and how I would go about it.
Do I need to install Linux on a separate partition from Windows?
What do I need to replace my current programs: Microsoft Office, Realplayer, Paint (for my daughter), and will I be able to run the only game I play on my computer, Sim City 4? I am not concerned about Internet Explorer, as I have been using Firefox for about a year now, and I really like it.
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Thank you.

You might look at:

If you are using one of the *buntus i.e. Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu or Linux Mint and
I am thinking about replacing Windows XP with Linux.
you can tell it to use the whole disk and it will cover XP up.

Microsoft Office

My recollection is that you can install the Linux version of RealPlayer

Gnome Paint?

Sim City 4
Yes, it will run on Linux with Wine or PlayOnLinux
Linux is a whole different beast from Windows/DOS (namely, the command-line is actually useful again :D). I'd recommend researching Ubuntu and Mint to see which feel better. Both of these are arguably the most user-friendly so either would be a good choice for a first distro.

There are a number of differences when coming from Windows. Beyond the number of distributions there are a number of GUIs that can be used on different systems and different system "bases" (mostly Debian vs Fedora) that sometimes use different commands.

The majority of software you used on Windows will not work on Linux. There are often better alternatives for the necessities (MS Suite, Internet browsing, paint, music players, photoshop, etc.) but some proprietary software won't work or uses proprietary protocols (Skype is very buggy on Linux and offers no alternatives to communicate with Skype users) additionally most popular games will only work through a VM. Wine is the most popular VM, but games may run a bit slower than on a native Windows system.

Here is a good beginner guide to Linux:

Google is also your best friend when you hit issues. The biggest hurdle for a lot of new users is just taking the time to learn about how Linux works.

If you want to learn about the command-line and how awesome it is:

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