Seeing the hardware you have (CPU: 1.6 GHz, RAM: 1 GB) I recommend to download Xubuntu or Lubuntu before testing Ubuntu. This is not related to which one is better but I am trying to make sure that the Ubuntu version works OK on your hardware. I also would recommend, like Devesh said, to wait until 14.04 is out (Which will happen next week on April 17, so the wait won't be long).
Here's what each of them would look like once you have them installed:
Very lightweight Desktop environment (Lightweight meaning that it uses small amounts of RAM, CPU and HDD space). The menu, where all the apps can be found, is located in the same place as you have them in Windows XP.
Another lightweight Desktop environment. The menu can be found in the top left corner so instead of going down to the bottom right corner, you would go up.
This is the main Ubuntu distribution. It uses a bit more resources than the other two, but I have tried Ubuntu on computers with 512 MB of RAM and it has ran correctly. You would also need a good video card. Still, you would need to personally test this. From Booting time, to how fast apps opened, to how fast you can work and be productive with each Desktop environment.
You need to know that, independent of what Ubuntu flavor you decide to select, you can install from any of them, the other desktops to try out. What I mean with this is that, if you download Lubuntu, Xubuntu, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Gnome Ubuntu or any Ubuntu official version, you can install from the Software Center (The application that manages installation of other apps and updates) any other Desktop environment. So you could have installed Xubuntu but you also wanted to try out Lubuntu, so you would go to the Software Center and download the
lubuntu-desktop package. This would make your system have both, Xubuntu and Lubuntu. you can choose which one you want to use from the Login Screen.
I would also invite you to read about Start Ubuntu which guides new Ubuntu users into this open source world.
So with everything here said and taking your hardware into consideration my recommendations would be:
- Download Xubuntu or Lubuntu first before trying Ubuntu
- Download ONLY the 32 Bit version. The 64 Bit needs more RAM in order to perform better.
- If you have a low graphics card I recommend staying with Xubuntu or Lubuntu only.
- Remember that you can test other Desktop Environments (DE) from any of the other Ubuntu versions just by installing their appropriate package (
lubuntu-desktop for Lubuntu,
xubuntu-desktop for Xubuntu...)
- Run the LiveCD/LiveDVD/LiveUSB which is a Live session of Ubuntu that does not install on your computer but runs directly from CD/DVD/USB. This way you can test out the DE and how it feels to you before even installing it on your system.
- Remember that you can install Ubuntu alongside Windows XP. There is no need to eliminate Windows XP completely. At least while you get accustomed to how the DE looks, works and behaves. The Ubuntu installer will give you an option about installing alongside in case you want this or you can be a brave warrior and go straight to Ubuntu FTW!.
- Remember to backup anything you want to save in case you want to format the whole system and install Ubuntu only.
- Use the SEARCH option in Ask Ubuntu when you find a problem you can't solve. There are more than 3000 questions related to Windows XP and more than 2000 related to Windows XP and the installation procedures. So there is a sure bet you will find most of the issues solved already.
So with all of this said, I applaud you and say: Welcome to Ubuntu my friend.