I've been looking into doing some PIC Programming, but unlike some of the other microcontrollers available the sheer number of different chips available has caused me some confusion. It also appears that some of the chips suggested on some sites as good choices for people starting out with PIC programming may have been superseded (or I may just be getting even more confused).
So my question boils down to three parts:
What would be a good PIC chip to start out with?
I'm quite happy doing either assembler or some other language, so what IDEs/languages would you suggest for Linux?
What would you recommend in terms of getting the code onto the chip, over a USB connection from a Linux laptop (PicKit 2? was one possibility) and what circuit/board configuration will I need to do this?
Edit: After a long discussion with Kortuk (see comments below) on the merits of various bits of kit, I've decided to start with the PicKit2 Starter Kit. This comes with a PIC16F690 chip installed.