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Possibly stupid newbie questions

I am finally making the plunge into Linux after various false attempts
over the last couple of years.

>From the development work I have been doing that Debian is the best
distribution for me however I would like some advice...

I have been using windows 2000 at the moment, and would like to install
onto a Dell C600 Latitude laptop that I use for work.  I have installed
Red Hat at the moment with no problems with the hardware configuration
except the sound card, but that is not important right now.  I then
tried to do the same with Debian and very little was supported which
makes me wonder what I am doing wrong.

1. Is the hardware support completely to do with the linux kernel, and
so the same across all the distros, or do certain distros have more or
less support for hardware according to their business rules?  e.g. If
Red Hat had a deal with Dell would they be developing drivers of their
own to give that support?

2. Does Debian have a different Lilo than Red Hat, because it seemed to
have no problem booting into itself in a somewhat crippled mode, even
though the boot(root) partition is on the end of the disk rather than
the beginning, and Red Hat refuses to do this because of the 1024
cylinder rule, so I am using a boot disk.

3. Stupid I know, but I have wiped out the boot sector on the hard disk,
is there anyway to get lilo to recreate itself on the boot disk using a
script of my choosing. (At the moment I can't even get it to create a
boot disk)  Or even better get the hard drive to boot back into the
Windows installation, as at the moment, until I finish the migration it
would be very useful to be able to get at certain programs in windows,
and at the very least figure out how to read my data partition, but I
don't seem to be able to mount them.

4. Did I do something wrong with the installation.  Because I have adsl
at home, so I am pretty sure that during installation i would not have
access to the internet, I downloaded the disk images, and insatalled off
the cds, and it seemed to go well except I guess I did not know enough,
and although I got the command line, the x-server could not be
configured, nor the ethernet card.

5. It has occured to me to just stay with Red Hat until I have more
experience with Linux before diving into Debian, is this a good thought
or have I missed some basic information, and the rest will be easy?

Thanks in advance for any help,


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