The problem with windows was that the driver for my PCMCIA ethernet card made the system unstable. Most notably it was unable to reliably wake up from sleep. Solaris on i386 was available, but I considered it a weak beta. A few people at work were big fans of Linux, so I tried loading Redhat on my system. It only took me an hour or two to find the driver I needed (our windows guru had spent days trying to solve the driver problem with Windows).
Once I got the driver installed, the system was gloriously stable and fast compared to Windows. I was hooked! Now, all of my machines run either Linux (desktop) or OpenBSD (routers, etc.). One laptop can dual-boot to Windows for a single piece of software that I occasionally use that depends on MS Office.