Over the years, I have enjoyed and struggled with many versions of linux operating systems (OS). There was a time when the only people who could actually install them were true hard core geeks whom picked up on how to navigate around the OS using the command prompt easily, ummm, sorta. But now with a graphics interface, it has become an OS almost everyone can use.
I say almost because there are still some limitations to certain programs you can run on any linux distribution. As years went by, more and more people began testing the OS waters and reporting what hardware they were able to get to work or not work. Eventually a HUGE list of compatibility hardware was developed and people could see if they could install and run linux. This hardware list included graphics, network, modem, sound adapters, ports in the PC and external devices like web cams, printers, scanners, etc.
There is very little difference in with how linux works and looks. To make it easier for Windows users, they have KDE and Gnome for people that like a completely new look. I personally love Gnome desktop layout and have used it for years.
I use to be a long time follower of Ubuntu Linux, but most recently have fell in love with Linux Mint 9. It was a super easy installation on my tower and my Dell mini 10.1v netbook and seems very fast. Linux Mint seem to come with the right programs I use most including OpenOffice suite, xChat and many others pre-installed allowing me to just turn it on and work or play. Keeping in mind other distributions come with the above as well though some may have to be installed. With thousands of free programs at your finger tips, using the software package manager is a snap to install what you may be looking for.
I highly recommend you try Linux Mint 10, like others it also saw special hardware like my HP 3330 multifunction laser, so I could print without installing old printer drivers (which I have no idea where I put the CD if I need to re-install them on my XP machine lol). Linux just seems to work as OS’s should. Computers were designed to help make life easier, not harder.
Please take some time to learn more about Linux Mint 9/10