Tell him to try a linux live cd first , great way for him to try out linux,
- slax linux good one and a small download
-damm small linux , bout a 56 mb download
you can also install both of theese on hard drive .
*My usb flash drive can be read by linux yet cos there is no ms office i cannot open word documents etc, but you can get open office for some versions so probably for the second question but again it depends on what distrobution of linux they want to use .