I Need Linux!

Thanks to a complete (and I mean complete) collection of screenshots graciously sent in by Brent Terrazas, I have been enlightened as to my need for Linux. Looking over the screenshots, I see a great deal of variation — more so than any of the Mac or PC browsers at my disposal — in terms of how designs are rendered on various Linux-driven browsers. The obsessive-compulsive designer in me suddenly sees an incredible need for my own Linux setup — not only for design-testing and cross-browser compatibility purposes, but also because I have always wanted to learn the ways of the Jedi..

A long time ago, I had a copy of Red Hat something or other setup on a dual-partitioned laptop, but that has long since vanished into the ether. I still have those old Red Hat installation disks, but I am certain that there is a much better solution available and would prefer to go with something as current and flexible as possible. So my question to you is, what is the best way to go for setting up with Linux? I currently own three machines: a Sony Vaio running Windows, a Macbook running OS X, and an old trusty laptop PC running, yes you guessed it, Windows 98SE. Is it ideal (or possible) to setup Linux on one of these existing systems? Or would it be better to invest in a new computer (I think it would, but my wife would probably disagree) for the purpose of learning and using Linux? I have read about thumb drives and CD-based Linux operating systems as well; any advice on those?

And then, and most importantly, what is the best version of Linux (preferably open-source) currently available? I realize that I am probably opening a big fat can of worms by asking these questions, but I prefer to get input from people with whom a mutual resonance has been established, namely, my readers. Plus, assuming that I succeed in setting something up, I will be sharing Linux-related information here at Perishable Press, so whichever Linux version I end up with is the one that you will probably be reading about (from time to time). So chime in with your thoughts — I trust your advice and look forward to your hearing your ideas about this.