It is VERY helpful to get some UNIX orientation if you don't have any. Buy a good Linux manual or dust your old Unix handbook. Almost all UNIX concepts apply in Linux, and almost all UNIX commands will run fine under Linux. I find manuals for MS Windows useless (click this, click that, look at the screenshot), but manuals for Linux/UNIX are typically great (give you an understanding of the system, a lasting benefit).
You may want to learn about your hardware: how many and what size hard drives you have, the type, number, order and size of all partitions on each drive, where your DOS/Windows partitions are, which one is the DOS/Windows boot partition (if you plan to have dual boot), what type of mouse you have, what video card and with how much memory, what monitor (max synchronization frequencies), etc.
Go to BIOS setup to see the number and geometry of your hard drives. Run DOS "fdisk" to display your hard drive(s) partition table(s), and print it. Watch your system boot to learn about the type of your video card and the amount of video memory. Boot MS Windows, go to the control panel-devices and write down the sound card, modem, network card types and settings (name, type, IRQ, i/o address, DMA channel). Read the label underneath your mouse to see the type of mouse you have. (Next time you buy a mouse, get a Linux-ready 3-button Logitech or similar--Linux makes good use of all three buttons.) Dust off your monitor manual to find out the maximum synchronization frequencies (vertical and horizontal) that your monitor supports. Never use frequencies out of the monitor specification--this may damage your monitor.
You may want to browse the RedHat or Mandrake manual. If you don't have the printed copy, an html version is on your CD so you can read it using any web browser, e.g. Netscape for Windows. Look here(lnag_help.html#reading_materials) to see how to access this manual and some additional reading material which is on your Linux CD.
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