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As a desktop workstation, I would go with Linux Mint or Ubuntu, both are fairly easy to learn for someone coming from a Windows enviroment. Puppy or DSL (Damn Small Linux) Linux distros are good if you happen to have an older machine with low memory. I'd recommend running Linux as a virtual machine, easy to go back and fourth between Windows and Linux.
"To err is human... to really foul up requires the root password." :)