1. People mention its buggy-ness. Is there a threat to my hardware? (I won't be overclocking) Is there a threat to any disk storage? FWIW, I'm not so worried about using a xxx-point work unit, I'm just concerned about messing up the PC in any way.
No, any bugginess would only affect the folding client itself.
2. Dutchmm just mentioned using linux/splitting, I really can't do anything linux at this point. Windows XP-32.
It shouldn't be too hard to get running: Install VMWare, and then get a pre-made disk image with Ubuntu or something else from http://www.vmware.com/appliances/
But it's your choice, I think the windows SMP client has matured a bit as well, so might not be as big a difference now as it used to be.
3. I'd prefer to use about 75% of my CPU cycles. Don't want to run this at full load, on this particular PC.
Any particular reason? It'll run on lowest priority, meaning anything else will get as many CPU cycles it wants, with F@H using what's "left".
4. With (2) and (3) in mind, would folding SMP be worth it over the non-SMP if the PC is on for about 12-13 hours most days, and left on overnight a couple days a week?
I'm not sure how tight it would be with deadlines, I know SMP has very short ones that dual cores can have trouble meeting if not folding 24/7.
5. finally, how bad is the learning curve for installing/running SMP? Using the GUI version of regular FAH, I got tired of seeing the little pictures so I tried out the text-based and hated it. (still learning the software side of PC's...) I guess if it's doable, I'll just post any questions I don't see answers to anywhere else.
I think there are good guides at the F@H website.