Best Linux distro with 64-bit support

Q I am interested in getting away from Windows and running Linux. I need to be able to design websites, edit photos, use MS Office, email, use the internet and play flight simulators. I know there are some Office replacement options and things like VMware for running Windows programs. I am OK with that because I could run some Windows programs and save them to a storage drive then take them into Linux. I am not a very literate programmer, and am looking for something that's easy to install and use. My specs are: Motherboard Asus K8V SE Deluxe, CPU AMD 64-bit 3000, RAM 1GB, and Graphics card BFG 6600 OC GeForce 128MB.

I would like to use an OS that will allow me to use my 64-bit processor and achieve my operational needs without running Windows, with the exception or maybe using VMware. What OS would you suggest that I try? The last time I tried Linux there was no USB support. Does VMware support gaming? I am fed up with Windows, but I so want to be able to view all websites and use all of my hardware.

A There are several distros available in full 64-bit versions that are well suited to an inexperienced user. In no particular order, Mandriva (www.mandriva.com), SUSE (www.suse.com) and Ubuntu (www.ubuntu.com) are all well worth considering. These systems all have Live CD variants. Live CDs are distros that boot and run from a CD or DVD, requiring no installation. They run a little slower and can't be customised, but provide an excellent way to evaluate a distro before installing it (see page 34 for more). If the only Windows software you want to run is MS Office, you don't need a full-blown (and expensive) virtual machine like VMware, CrossOver Office (from www.codeweavers.com) allows you to run MS Office, and many other Windows programs, on Linux. An even better solution for most people is to use OpenOffice.org instead. This comes will all major distros and is as good as Office in many areas, better in some. Everything else you mention is more than adequately covered by Linux software, much of which will be included in the above distros. However, gaming in VMware is generally not that good - in fact gaming is one of the main reasons why people keep Windows on their hard disks.

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