Okay, I know posting questions with answers just a Google search away is taboo, so I hope that this (extremely) common question isn't too much of a waste of forum space.
I was wondering:
1. How I could tell if Linux/a distro would be compatible with my hardware? This question might be completely irrelevant, I'm not certain about the nature of Linux, but I think driver compatibility might be important so I'm asking anyway.
2. What distro of Linux should I get? Also probably a dead-horse question that gets beat far too often, but I have done a fair bit of Googling about the subject without any real progress. My main interests are in speed, doing general work (OpenOffice type deal), doing light-weight image editing (like Paint.net), doing lightweight sound/music mixing (basically Audacity type things), internet browsing (Ideally with netflix, but I know there are some issues with Silverlight and such) and POSSIBLY gaming (i.e. Steam Linux Beta).
I just realized I didn't give ANY information about my computer...
The target computer is a laptop, it currently runs Windows 8, but I aim to wipe everything and just run Linux. (It's a Lenovo u410)
Here are the specs:
3rd generation IntelŽ Core™ i7-3537U ( 3.10GHz 1660MHz 4MB
8GB (DDR3) RAM
NVIDIAŽ GeForceŽ 610M (1GB)/IntelŽ HD 4000 chipset
1TB HDD (I don't know the make) 128 GB mSata SSD (ADATA XPG SX300 [SATA III controller])
I think that's all the pertinent stuff. I'm looking at Linux Mint, OpenSUSE or Fuduntu (In their latest release version) as of right now, from an uneducated perspective.
I'm just a run of the mill consumer (With reasonable level of computer savvy) looking for a change of pace in the world of operating systems. Any help at all would be GREATLY appreciated! I'm willing to try anything, so I'm open to all suggestions!