You can order free Ubuntu Linux CDs on the internet. You may have to pay a handling charge of less than R20 to the post office, but apart from that, the CDs are free, and you can order enough for your friends and family. This really does work, and is very useful for us in South Africa, because of out limited and expensive internet access.
My first experience with Linux was with the SUSE distribution in 2000. I later installed Mandrake. My computer's graphics card (a SiS 6326) needed a lot of tweaking to get it to work properly. With a new computer and VMware (I am not willing to re-partition my hard drive yet), I hope that my experience with Ubuntu Linux will be better.
PS. To Install VMware tools for Linux this link is useful.