At this point, I'm leaning toward an Ubuntu release. From the reviews I've read and the feedback I've gotten, it sounds like it's the simplest to install and configure, and the most transparent to use.
Ubuntu has three main variations: Ubuntu, which uses the GNOME environment; Kubuntu, which uses KDE; and Xubuntu, which uses Xfce, and is intended for older systems or for people who want better performance and less system overhead. Feedback on these environments would be nice; I know a lot of the difference between GNOME and KDE boils down to Personal Preference, so discussions of functional differences will be more useful than "Ewww, GNOME sucks!!"
For those who've used Xfce, what "fat" does it leave out? Does it make a noticable impact on ease of use?
Nota Bene: My primary goal is not to become Super L33t *NIX Power User IT Guru Man. My computer is a tool that I use to do other things, and I want to spend my time and energy on doing those other things, rather than figuring out how to get my computer to let me do them.
So: Easy Use trumps Power Use. Spoon feed me!
My two biggest potential technical obstacles:
- I run a two-monitor setup, and I want to continue to do so. At the moment, I have an NVIDIA GeForce FX 5500 running dual 19" Trinitron CRTs at 1280x960. Eventually, I plan to upgrade those to LCDs, and upgrade the video card accordingly.
- I keep my Data and Documents on their own drive, separate from my Application Drive. The Data Drive is in FAT32 format; does Linux read that natively? I know there are some propriatary Windows formats that Linux can't read, but I don't know which ones are which.
Suggestions on good *NIX MUCK and IM clients would be helpful, too.