I have always been a windows user only for the conpulsions. To play UT (yeah I know we can play it under wine, but its just the way I did it!), to do some work under Visual Studio, to access Outlook (agn, I know KMail etc can give me similar functionalities with OWA [Outlook Web Access], but then this is how I do it).
My OS of choice had always been Linux. No, not because I am very fond of updating the kernel now and then or that I tweak some code to get things running on the machine. But because the way the whole Open source thing works, you always get to know what a certain app/installation is trying to do and you can yourself go ahead and help the app run if it feeling a lil out of place. Also the galore of softwares that you have at your service is amazing. You can simply go ahead pick something off the shelf and get it running. You don’t even have to worry about the attacks as even if the software you pick up turns out to be malicious, the damage is very local; rarely would it become as severe as it affects your whole user account, and almost negligible to have a attack having system wide effect (obviously, you are not supposed to run anything and everything as root. Don’t argue that a similar less privileged user would have less effect on windows system as I have seldom seem a nice app installation which doesn’t need Administrator access).
All my years in the college I had been a fan of SuSE (now openSUSE), and always heard everyone saying that RedHat is what gives you all what linux is about: the support, user community, robustness etc. So, after college I tried on FC6 on my Lenovo T60. An important resource for exactly the same installation can be found here. The things that didn’t run out of the box: wireless network card, graphics card(vesa did work), fingerprint reader, suspend to ram/hdd (I am a KDE lover and seemingly it works well on gnome). To have this installation work out well I had to first get my wireless card up. I simply downloaded the setup files, ucode, and controlling daemon using the wired connectivity. Then I sat down to configure things. Without internet I was all working with myself to get things right. It took one night but finally I could get my card up and running. Then I sat down to get the VPN access software installed so that I can start working from home. This one went pretty smoothly. With these things done, I was pretty sure that I can get the other ones done quite easily. I picked up the graphics driver next, but no matter what I do I couldn’t get the ati driver working for me. I could get the driver module compiled but configuring it into the Xorg.conf would crash the X server. So I gave up on the graphics driver and started for the fingerprint reader. This one was also very simple and I could verify that it was working. I again came back to the graphics driver problem, but the problem was a rock to crack. I gave up on it again and worked with FC6 for 1 month with sluggish graphics, a graphic driver so slow that I couldn’t even see a video full screen.
Then I was blessed with OpenSUSE 10.2 in one of the LFY editions. I was already very frustrated over the graphics driver, so I gave SuSE another shot. I started installation at 11 in the night. The only extra thing that I had on running out of the box time was my wireless card with a preinstalled, more useful network manager. This was the biggest relief I could have got as I was now connected to the net without any hassles. I then went for the VPN (piece of cake) followed by fingerprint which was again pretty easy. The most dreaded part (or as I had thought) was graphics driver. But this is what I was amazed at. I downloaded the binaries from ati, installed it, restarted the X and I had my new driver running. All this done only by 4 am. I then installed quake and it was running more smoothly than even on the windows system. The only thing that I am still not able to get up on this system is my corporate wireless access in the office which relies on the certificate. This certificate gets installed on a windows system using a VBE script. I think I would ask the IS(Information services) to get a way out over there. After that I am pretty sure I would be able to log into my corporated wireless network as well.
To wrap up, I would say that RedHat might be very strong in enterprise domain, but it still has a long way to go when desktop OS is concerned. They should understand the current prevalent hardware models available. They should give better applets to the user. AFAIU, any distro can be configured to work exactly as the other, so Redhat guys should take some tips from what SUSE packs.
For SUSE, its all beautiful as always, thanks to KDE and the new styled SUSE menu. A large pat on the back for them. Keep up the good work.