You can avoid all the pain of researching hardware by purchasing a pre-configured Linux machine.
I've had great experiences from them. Great support, both official and community. Computer comes ready to go, with a system76 repo for support of very new hardware. After less than a year, my laptop now works with vanilla Linux without need of system76's software.
Ships with latest Ubuntu, but if you're not a fan of Unity, xubuntu is great.
RADIO SHACK LEVEL II BASIC READY >_