I am a beginner. As a general comment I do not find the "beginners' section of the forum" user friendly. To my mind some very very basic turorials are required for those of us that are less experienced.
I am using a windows 7 machine and am trying to download an image file to load on to an SD card. Following the Wiki instructions (which seem the most useful source of information), I am directed to the Raspberry Pi downloads page (http://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads). I decide to go for the "Debian Squeeze version" and use the link for a direct download as I have never heard of "Torrent"
[As an aside I cannot find any instructions on how to excecute a torrent download on a Windows machine. As I am on a learning expedition can someone point me in the right direction?]
The link to the download page works and Firefox tells me debian6-19-04-2012 is ready for download. I select an save location and a compressed folder duly arrives. So far so good. In Explorer I right click on the folder and using WinZip, extract to the same location. This creates a new folder "debian6-19-04-2012" which contains two files. The first "debian6-19-04-2012" is 1,904,297 bytes in length and I imagine is the image file I am after, notwithstanding that it has a "WinZip File" type in the Explorer listing. I also have a small 1KB SHA1 file. No mention anywhere as to what this might be.
However, following the instructions on the Raspberry Pi Distribution Downloads page I attempt to "verify the image with the SHA-1 checksum provided above". It fails to verify but I note that the resulting checksum corresponds with that contained in the SHA1 file extracted along with the supposed image. Am I right in assuming that this means that my supposed image is indeed that and is valid?
If so and the RPi staff monitor these forums an amendment to their Distribution Downloads page would appear to be in order.