Howdy - total LINUX newbie present

I have couple of few hard drives and two boxes.

I'd like to get into Linux from a perpective of web development using PHP,
Perl and MySQL on one of the hard drives and configure a dual boot.

I'm familiar with the UNIX environment, shells etc and it's time to move on
and into LINUX
Could someone advise which is the best flavour, UI have a number of
questions though, are drivers difficlut to find for Linux. I just swapped a
drive and had to get another driver for the monitor, sound card and modem. i
foresee this as being difficult with Linux or am I just imagining things

Is there much of a problem with NIC cards and configuring this to a home
network? Also what about Oracle, will I be able to use the Linux drive as a
client without too many problems eetc.

It seems like I'm going to have a fwe problems but I think it'll be
worthwhile for what I want to do. As an Oracle server I have an XP pro box,
and would like to run performance evaluations through a fwe different
platforms, IP address in a heterogenous environment. I know these questions
are problems are going to be best addressed when faced but is there a good
starting point witha particular flavour to begin with, and a free download