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Being a Windows person
I'm no longer a beginner but still a novice. Initially, I tried a Corel distro, then Mandrake, then RedHat 7. I needed dual boot to W2K and had problems with every installer... but the RedHat stuff has the best docs and an abundance of "HowTo" articles. RedHat Fedora now lives on my machine. Most RH7, 8, and 9 docs are compatable, upgades to newer distros are painless, and RedHat continues to support Fedora with updates. Redhat was a good choice for me!
Pick a distro, get it installed and get familiar. THEN tackle configuring Apache. It's not as big a learning curve as Linux, but it's no small task... The Apache Server forum is where specific Apache questions should be posted.
Being a Windows person, I have no experience with Linux or Apache
Take a look at your httpd.conf or apache.conf file... usually somewhere in /etc/httpd/ or /etc/apache (sometimes in a conf folder)depending on your distro. This file is pretty well documented but can be confusing. Read through it and then I'm sure you'll have plenty of configuration questions for us.
A majority of changes can be made here to your server setup (ports, child process, modules, virtual domains). After you make any changes you'll need to stop/start apache... Go to /etc/init.d/ and "apache restart" or "httpd restart" to restart the service.
I'm sure there may be a number of configutation tools out there but I've always perferred editing the .conf files myself.