Do I really need 3 partitions for vector? The one partition seemed to be for increasing your usable ram and since I have 4gb of ram I doubt I will need that. Using 250 gb for vector how large should my root and home partitions be?
You don't need three partitions for Vector, but you do need two. You most certainly DO NOT need 2 gigs for swap, especially with 4 gigs of RAM. The computer with the least amount of RAM at my house has 512 megs, and I gave it 900 megs of swap. Usually I use 512 megs for swap. You'll find that your system rarely uses swap. However, it's good to have it "just in case." With the size of your hard drive, you won't miss 512 megs. Any Linuxes you install can use the same swap partition.
As for having a separate root partition ( / ) and /home partition, it's not necessary. In fact, in 10 years of using Linux on all kinds of computers, all of them dual booting various Linuxes and some version of Windows, I've never used a separate /home partition except for the last system I set up, my old but new-to-me Dell Inspiron 1100 laptop that runs only VectorLinux 6 Light.
The advantage of a separate /home partition is that you will retain your settings, customizations, and data if you reinstall VectorLinux or install a new version of VL or another distro. However, you can easily do this even when your /home directory is on your root partition ( / ) by backing it up to external media. (There is more to this than simply copying, but no need to go into that here.)
Linux isn't like Windows. It's best to accept each system for what it is rather than wishing one were like the other. One of the main reasons Windows has such severe malware problems is that every user is an administrator by default. This means any user can do anything anywhere, and when the adminitrator/user is downloading anything, any malware in the mix can install and infect the whole system. With Vista and Win 7, Microsoft has offered more user/administrator distinctions and also UAC, which prompts the user when something is happening that affects the whole system and the user has to consent to it. This is a good step for Windows, but Windows users apparently prefer ease to safety and have whined about UAC prompts, many turning UAC off entirely.
No Linux distro that is true to its roots will ever compromise the root/user distinction. You should NEVER run your system as root and NEVER do Internet things as root. Log in as user and run as user and when you need to do something only root can do, open a terminal, type su at a prompt and then type the root password, do what root needs to do, and then type exit and go back to being a user without root privileges. User cannpt make changes that affect the system beyond the /home directory, which means if you're browsing and encounter malware, it can't get beyond the user's home directory and mess up the whole system. Also, when you have to su to root in order to do something, you are at least aware that what you want to do can have serious consequences.
Windows users often get really annoyed at the restrictions of running as user when they first start using Linux, but when you realize WHY there is this distinction you quickly get used to it. Once the system is installed and configured, you won't find you need to su to root so often in day to day use.
I don’t really understand root or what it is except that its sort of like administrator on windows. And the only account i have on windows is administrator. I don’t really get why they would need different partitions.
They don't *need* different partitions because you can simply have a /home directory on the / partition, but I tried to explain above why you might *want* to have a separate /home partition. Remember that for many home users, you are both a user and root. Most of the time you will be user but you will become root when you need to do root things.
Should the installers for vector and mint make this easy for me to understand and pretty much handle most of their on installations themselves with default settings or is there something I should know in particular that the installers will not explain to me?
I suggest reading the documentation included on the CD you'll burn from the ISO before you actually install.
I do not agree *at all* that you're going to become expert at wiping your drive and reinstalling. I've never had to do that except once many years ago where I installed something that messed up the system and it was easier to reinstall than to figure out how to fix the mess. And remember, I'm a tester and I start using new versions of VL while they're alphas, and I still haven't needed to wipe the partition. Some people like to live dangerously and mess around with tweaks and in those cases, you may indeed wind up reinstalling. But if you are like me and are fairly conservative in what you do with and to your system, you don't need to expect to become an expert on wiping drives.
Programs are usually installed by root and can be used by all users. Users can't install programs because users can't write to disk outside of their home directory. This isn't strictly true, though, because users can install some programs in their home directory. However, other users can't use those programs because other users have write privileges only in their own home directory. There are ways to change ownership and permissions on just about all files, so if you want to share music files or photos with other users of your computer, you can do it.
If you want to run a safe Linux system, you can't abandon good Web practices. While you can't get Windows viruses or malware that requires Windows, there are other ways you can get affected and you shouldn't run files from unknown origins. And remember that if you run as root, your whole system can get affected.
If you want eye candy and very rich, many-featured programs, you'll find that Linux desktop environments can be pretty CPU and RAM intensive. Linux is not necessarily lightweight and you can't run everything on any old computer. But Linux can be much lighter than Windows and give new life to older hardware. My 1.3 GHz Celeron with a gig of RAM runs VectorLinux Standard and SOHO much better than it runs XP.
Programs can spontaneously shut down under Linux, too. It's rare for the whole system to go down, though.
I think Linux is a lot more fun than Windows and you definitely have more control over your system. This is a friendly and helpful forum, so do feel free to post any questions you have.