Ad 1.: There is no significant difference in NForce1/2 support between the Linux
distros. All of them will need a Kernel upgrade for UltraDMA IDE (for
hard disks, CDROM/DVD, ...) and probably none of them includes the
drivers for the NVIDIA onboard LAN.
So feel free to choose the distro which appeals you most. If you are not
sure in investing your money into a retail-version (or in your Linux
ambitions at all) try a downloaded/copied CD-set first (perhaps together
with a good book on linux).
I personally prefer Debian (non-commercial, very secure and sophisticated,
consider switching to it once you feel fit enough)
Ad 2.: There is no problem with the NForce2-NIC - as long as you manage to
compile/install the "nvnet" Kernel module. Again, there is no
significant difference between the Linux distros.
Ad 3.: Perhaps someone in this forum puts together an RPM containing a recent
Kernel and modules for sound, network, AGP (and maybe also the ATI
Ad 4.: Your DVD-writer probably works. But you won't know for sure until you
The software you need is called "CDRtools"; the program is called
cdrecord (download from ftp://ftp.berlios.de/
). cdrecord is very
powerful and a pure command-line tool. You probably want to use
one of the graphical frontends (google for them).
If You are completely new to Linux and you don't know if it's right for You
have a look at "Knoppix" (http://www.knoppix.org/
). You don't have to install
anything on your computer (anything comes from a compressed 700MB-CDROM).
It's based on a Debian Linux but ideal to get a first impression!