I've been running WinXP since November - I had a vague plan to move to Linux at some point but never quite got around to it. And despite the fact that using Windows gets you no respect in these parts, I've quite enjoyed it on the whole, it's pretty smooth, and I'm used to the ways that it sucks.
But I dug up a Ubuntu Live CD I picked up at Open Tech, played with it a couple of evenings, and today ran it for the whole day at work on my HP dv1049ea laptop. For those who, like me, didn't know what a Live CD is, it's a bootable CD that lets you play with the OS without having to install - very cute.
Ubuntu picked up all the basic hardware by itself: keyboard, monitor (though not the dual monitor spanning), touchpad (but with some annoyances like tap does middle button and it's too sensitive by default). All of which issues are noted and resolvable (with a touch of manual config file editing).
The network got picked up with no hassles, and though the wireless indicator light doesn't work, a bit of testing shows that it's recognized and functional. Unlike Win or MacOSX, there's no pretty gui by default, though a couple of packages exist (Wifi Radar etc.). I wasn't able to check it out at work, as the network is on a VPN, which would have meant more faffing with package installation and configuration - I'd like to see this all Just Working in a future release of Ubuntu, which to be honest seems pretty likely as that seems to be the target market.
I wasn't able to play any
Gnome is nice, in many ways smoother than WinXP, in some ways more polished, and with some nice powerful touches - I really really really love the multiple workspace thing: I used to have an applet that did a similar thing on NT4, but it was hacked on and didn't work well, this does seem to. The default terminal is also nice, with shortcuts to select different tabs. (Alt-Tabbing through dozens of PuTTY sessions was never much fun). The package manager thing is also fantastic, and nowadays most of the software that I want to play with is easier to get running on Linux than for Windows anyway. An oddity for me is the way that each application seems to manage their own file open dialogues - so, for example, though Nautilus can mount a Samba share, OpenOffice doesn't know anything about it. Nor, apparently does the Gimp, and these are separate bugs rather than something to be centralized in the file API.
Still, I'm looking forward to running Linux. Not particularly looking forward to the time spent getting it running well, though I've found quite a few resources to help. Yeah, yeah, I could get a Mac if I actually liked OSX and, more importantly, had the money to buy another machine...