What are you crazy???
C++? Ok, I can forgive you for the C++ part .
I myself was looking for a good way to develope for linux (C or C++ ), so I ran into a few things…
I don’t think distribution is that big a deal, I use RedHat, but I am sure Debian SUSE Mandrake VA, etc etc should work fine but I can only safely say Redhat for now…
For GUI programming I prefer GTK+ as a GUI toolkit because its C based and you can see how everything really works instead of guessing what C++ does with objects or using a preprocessor to get rid of the problems associated with C++, you can find more information about it here www.gtk.org and www.gnome.org, there is a gtk+ widget called gtkglarea which allows you to create a gl view in your application, under this platform most people use Make files, but there is a program called gIDE which is also used by many as an IDE. For Visual Programming AKA GUI building tools there is glade so you should check that out as a way to quickly build interfaces and save coding time.
For game programmer/multimedia kind of developement there is the SDL (Simple DirectMedia Library), the release version 1.0 does not support OpenGL but the CVS version 1.1 does and can be downloaded, compiled and used but it may be buggy. The SDL is actually very portable, and you can develope under diffrent platforms and if you don’t do anything platform specific, you can recompile from on diffrent platforms (Windows, Linux, MacOS, BeOS). I don’t recall the exact link to this site but search the developement part to www.lokigames.com and look in their smpeg section and it should have a link to SDL… BTW this SDK also includes cross platform audio as well.
As for books I am not so sure about that, all I can say is to go to gtks home page and look at their tutorials and compile their tutorial example programs, from there you should look for gtkglarea and if you do not have a supported hardware accelerator get Mesa from www.mesa3d.org so that you can have a library to compile against, mesa also mentions about hardware accelerators. Anyway that is how I got started.