SharePoint 2010 is coming with a lot of new features and if you are seriously interested in SharePoint, you should start build your 2010's knowledge. My colleague Mourad Askar posted on his blog about SharePoint 2010 Information and Tutorials which I find very informative.
On Microsoft's SharePoint 2010 site, you can find tutorials, videos and you can register for the beta.
One important thing, SharePoint 2010 will no run on 32Bit machines. If you have a core 2 due processor, it supports 64 bit. And if in doubt and want to run SharePoint on a virtual machine, check VMWare's tool that tests if your processor is capable of running a 64bit guest OS.
Personally, I have a core 2 Due Laptop with Vista 32 bit installed. I installed the 64 bit edition of Linux Ubuntu 9.04 and can host Windows 2008 64bit OS using Virtual Box. What's good about this scenario is that Ubuntu's memory usage is light and gives a good space to host virtual machines.