Don't know if it was mentioned or not, but most servers with vim installed have another piece of software named "vimtutor" that ships with vim. Typing "vimtutor" on the command line opens up vim with a tutorial text file that allows for interactive learning. This helped me out greatly when I first learned vim a few years ago.
I too wanted the power of linux while being able to let my family have the luxury of windows.
Here is my situation. I have a mud in development on a hosted server. (Thanks Zeno for all you do!). I wanted to be able to do my coding and compiling and I didn't want to have to use cygwin and windows. So, I scoured the internet for some alternate solution.
Before, I used putty, logged in, and used vi to do all my work. Struggled, but it did what I needed and I learned, slowly, but learned none-the-less.
Now, I think, I have found a solution. I took an older, 80gig, external hard drive and put kubuntu 10.04 on it. Here is how… 1. Boot a laptop and go into settings. Change the boot order to boot CD first. 2. Turn off computer. Remove hard drive. (fairly easy, a few screws and it slides out.) 3. Have install disc (can get one from a magazine or download the iso(had to do this first if you don't have the disc)). plug in external hard drive (usb). Boot computer. 4. Install linux (it will only find the external hard drive, so you do not run any risk of messing with other OS or bootloaders.) 5. Shut off computer, remove usb drive and disc. Replace hard drive. 6. Reboot, go to settings and set first boot for usb, second to cd or hard drive (your pref here.) 7. boot should be primary os on hard drive. 8. Turn off computer, plug in external hard drive, boot into new os. Now you have a persistent linux that uses the computer hardware without messing with other os.
Now for the IDE stuff. I like KDE and I think Kate is a powerful editor. It also allows me to open a terminal underneath for additional commands line stuff while editing.
Using a wonderful tool in linux called sshfs, I can mount a remote filesystem, such as my directory on my hosting service. By doing this, I can use my linux programs on my hard drive, manipulate my files as needed, and all adjustments are placed on my hosting service.
For a newbie like myself, this took some experimenting and adjusting. But I swear, google is the greatest. Not to mention this site is top notch.
I use Anjuta myself for most things. I use gPHPEdit for PHP.
Anjuta is for GNOME as well.
On another note, you can USE KDE programs under GNOME and vice versa, the programs actually only require you to have the LIBRARIES from that specific desktop installed, they don't require you to be using it. There may be exceptions to this, such as widgets for your toolbars, but not many.