Clean Linux Install SSD Questions

I have an old HP (AMD Athlon II640 Quad-core with 8 GB RAM) that ran Windows 7. I say ran because the hard drive bit the dust last week and I thought it might be good platform to experiment on. I'm not very tech-savvy, so I'm not sure if this will work.
I plan to get a 1TB SSD and put Linux on it. That's the basic plan.
But that's where I'm stuck. I've played around with Linux off a thumb drive on my laptop, but when it got around to partitioning and setting up profiles, etc etc etc. , I got lost (I was trying to follow a YouTube video on it) but I liked how it ran so much more smoothly even as a bare bones program, so I want to try it on a PC as a sole OS with all the bells and whistles. Can it be done or does Linux need a Windows crutch?
Can someone provide me with a step by step guide (or link to one)? I know enough to be dangerous (fiddle with BIOS, use simple tool and the art of fire), but let's say most of my computing knowledge is pre-Windows 95. Also, which flavor (I hear a lot of talk about Ubuntu; Red hat was a biggie for awhile too, but that's all I know.

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Over the past decade I have let Linux pick the partitions

For me. If someone wants to manually do that, you let them do that and watch out for flying fists of rage against the machine.

If you do need Windows you could always install Virtual Box and run Windows inside that (from Windows 1.0 to 10.0)

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Re: Linux
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linux is really easy to install

if you pick the right distro. imo, get one of the Ubuntu distros. all you have to do is to boot to the disk, answer a couple of questions, and it installs. no need to mess with partitions unless you want to. also you may not need to mess with the bios with the older computer. if you do, just disable secure boot bit try installing first. I use linux mint which is based on Ubuntu.

on thing about linux, you can try different distros and see which one you like the best. unlike windows, you can install it and have it updated in about an hour.

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