I still don't understand this argument of "vastly superior performance" with the hard to set up vs the easy to set up distros. I've been using ubuntu for a whole 2 days now. Not very long I know, but what's so much better with those other distros? Firefox opens and is useable in seconds. Openoffice opens and is useable in seconds. My computer seems a little slow from power on till the point I get to select ubuntu from the bootlist, but after that the os is up and useable within 30-45 seconds.
Ubuntu's pretty nice so far. The install was the easiest I've ever experienced. I've played around with linux distros over the years but have never kept any on my system for more than a week. Usually something doesn't work, I spend a few days trying to fix it. Then I say screw it and go back to xp where everything was already working. I mean really, Ubuntu is kicking XP's ass right now. I tested my printer. Just plugged it in and it recognized not just a generic printer, but the specific printers manufacturer and model. With XP it just recognizes a USB connection, then after 5 minutes gives up and show the little "unknown hardware" icon in the device manager. I've got a little bluetooth usb stick. With XP, it doesn't recognize it properly and I have to install all this crap off of the cd that came with it. With Ubuntu, it just recognizes it and gives me bluetooth capabilities within seconds.
The only issue I'm having with it right now is that it doesn't seem to see my SATA HD at all. I also haven't tested out my webcams yet but I hardly use them anyway. Also there seems to be no trace of my wireless card, but I had that disabled in XP since I never used it anyway.
First distro I tried was Debian. This was back around 2003. I'm sure things have changed now, but back then with the installer, it asked too many questions. It would ask you where your mouse was and then it seemed to give you a list of 20 options. Same with the keyboard, sound card, video card, and network card. I could read the list and feel confident with my selections for some of the options but not for all of them. If I remember right, after it turned on and booted up it just left you at the command prompt. I had to ask in an irc room why all the screenshots show a desktop and why all I saw was just a black screen with "login:". Someone told me I had to type startx after logging in and that seemed to work. No network connection, no sound, and the highest resolution I could go to was 640x480.
Next one I tried was Mandrake. I think this was version 8 or 9. Still around 2003-2004. Anyways that one installed more like ubuntu did today. It did let you chose which packages / programs to install. After installing it, everything worked except for the sound. I couldn't get the sound issue figured out after about a week so that was it for Mandrake.
I'm not too sure why everyone says windows XP is a resource hog compared to linux. It looks like I'm using 325mb out of 2gigs of ram on ubuntu right now. On XP that might be 500-600mb of ram used, but performance wise you can't tell the difference. Plus the ram usage builds linearly. I mean, I'd imagine if I was using 700mb of ram on ubuntu that I'd be using 900-1000mb of ram on XP. CPU wise, both operating systems seem to leave 99% of the cpu at idle power. I understand that if you only have running what you want running, that the computer has less to process and can get its task done quicker and more efficiently. But there is a line where you just can't tell or measure the difference anymore.
Maybe you meant reliability and not having the OS crash on you? For the 6 hours a day I'm on my computer it usually never crashed with XP. Now of course most of those linux people talk about having their computers running for weeks to months at a time without a restart. That's great for a server type setup, but that's just an enormous waste of energy for the home desktop user.