I have used Linux casually on a number of occasions. I've never used it enough to get into the guts.
Well today, I D/L'd Mandrake 9.1, and gave it a spin...on the HP ze5300 laptop. The final results? Great, so far.
I had a few hiccups: the standard installer would hang when detecting/installing the firewire port, but throwing the "noauto" switch on the installer solved that. Then I had a problem with the configuration of XFree86 (got that one solved too, the CLI is your friend.) Finally the 802.11b required a little jiggling, but once I found where *I* had made a mistake configuring it, it came immediately to life. All-in-all, not a bad experience for my first install.
Now all I have to do is get used to the system, and buy a few good books on the subject, and I'm free of the liscensing fee spiral (at least on one system - you'll probably not see Linux on my gaming rig for a while yet.)
By the way, KOffice works very well, and hasn't had a problem with any of my files yet.