From my earlier post on Vidalinux a few things have changed in my linux world. I had everything close to working, but was never able to get my nvidia card working with the accelerated drivers. I decided since Vidalinux was built on Gentoo that I would give it a try and see if I had any better luck. Gentoo was a very cool distro, and its what most of the hardcore linux geeks at the university's LUG prefer. It was fun, its been a long time since I really delved into the guts of the system and did basic things like partition my drive from the command line and compile my own kernel. Gentoo is a very powerful system, but in the end I decided it wasn't for me. The amount of time it took to get my system up and mostly running was simply too long. I had to spend a lot of time figuring out just what packages I needed then longer to wait for them all to compile. I was at one time a rabid advocate of linux, and thought that if you didn't want to compile everything yourself and do everyting the hard way that you shouldn't be using a computer. It was kind of like saying that you shouldn't drive a car if you couldn't rebuild the engine. I've softened my stance a lot. I understand that the average user just wants to turn on their computer and have things work. They don't want to muck about for hours with config files and such. I'm rapidly reaching this point myself. I have too many other things I'm involved in to spend endless hours trying to get my computer to work (ok, maybe those other things are playing solitaire and watching tv, but its my time). So though I still believe in linux and open source, I've been searching for a distro that is ready for the desktop, something that does pretty much everything I can do under Windows.
The closest I've found so far is Ubuntu. Its a Debian based distro, and this is my first experience with such. I've always viewed Debian as a bit behind the times, a nice stable system, but not cutting edge. This was a problem when I upgraded my computer every few months, but I don't tend to do that so much nowadays so a bleeding edge distro isn't as important to me. Ubuntu did many things that impressed me. It detected and configured my SMC 54G wi-fi card during installation, something no other distro has managed so far. Very nice not to have to string network cables across the house just to download updates and drivers for my wireless card. It effortlessly connected to my windows file server, another thing no other distro has done, the Windows network browsing worked out of the box.
With a little more work I had pretty much full multimedia support; dvd, wmv, ask, avi, mpg, etc. All in all a very nice distro. I would reccomend for anyone using it to install the standard Ubuntu first and get everything working, then install the kubuntu kde packages, though this is largely since I prefer KDE to Gnome. At any rate, though its taken me most of the week, I did finally find a good linux distro that I could get up and working in a relatively short amount of time and do everything I need it to.
All hail the Mighty Penguin.