XBCD drivers work for wired xbox controllers (and maybe wireless?), but I have been able to use xpadder to map buttons for my xbox controller and FFXI (should only have to map the triggers). I use a keyboard, so it's only something I've verified, not something I use frequently for FFXI.
As far as key maps, the keyboard setup is one of the best I've used. Just ignore the mouse, use WASD/numpad to move and arrows for camera. Setting the control setting to "compact keyboard" allows you to use WASD keys, which I recommend. Shortcuts all use CTRL+, so CTRL+i brings up your inventory, for example.
Guides- browse this forum for any other returning player threads. There are several. Getting started tips and guides will be posted in them.
Ignore the server population information, look through the forum for social linkshell invites for other new players and join one of those linkshells. Whichever server that linkshell is on, that's where you'll want to start.
Edited, Jan 28th 2013 5:32pm by xypin