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Well, it's finally time to download a Linux version and use my laptop to drive myself nuts. I went through this 2 years ago and even though it was geeky fun, it was not very successful. I'm going to update my Win7 image on an external HD. I intend to use the whole drive for Linux. I've got a 500GB drive so I guess I could dual boot, but that adds complexity. How should I petition my drive so updates don't effect my data OR my software settings? What needs to be backed up so if the system later bombs I can re-install Linux and recover my software, settings, and data? I'm looking at Mint or Ubuntu. Which one? Or is there an easier one available? PCLinuxOS get 64bit yet? What flavor of desktop? Does any version install from a USB stick? Or is this a dumb idea? I'd really like to SSD my laptop. How does Linux feel about SSD's? Any recommended sites for "Step my step" Linux for Dummies? Thanks folks for being there so I can even ask these questions and get intelligent answers.