So my $500 Compaq notebook which came with Vista, was (no surprise) pretty sluggish clocking in at only 512MB RAM. The computer came with no Vista cd, so if I format my drive, that's it for Vista. I tried the Freespire live cd to check compatability before installing and could not get the sound to work.
Then I popped in Linux Mint, which was just really glitchy on my desktop and I had previously decided it was no good. Using the Linux Mint Live cd, I tested everything. All the devices worked, I had instant video playback abilities at you-tube, Google Video, Stage6, and sho.com (yay for Dexter previews!).
It was about the same speed on the Live cd as Vista was running from the hard drive. I clicked "Install" and about 20 minutes later, booted right into my now all-Linux notebook. It was my first time doing so, but setting up network shared folders was a breeze. As easy, if not more so than XP.
Being an Ubuntu derivative, Linux Mint may have this in common with its parents, but I found a very satisfying and thorough set of power management options which were easy and intuitive to configure. I haven't tried WiFi on it yet, but it would be surprising to me at this point for something not to work with these beautiful, user-friendly distros I've been seeing lately.
It does make perfect sense that some setups will be more prone to compatability issues with particular distributions. That's what HCLs and live cd's are there for. It is not very surprising that Linux Mint is awesome on my notebook; deep down, I knew that it was like that on a lot of other machines, from what I'd heard. I am very satisfied with these two spin-offs of Ubuntu.
It would seem they have come a long way in the past 6 months. I had accidentally (lol) burned a copy that was about 8 months old and virtually nothing worked. I figured out what had happened and put 2.0.3 back on, and it's been smooth sailing since.
I've got all my favorite Linux apps set up on the notebook, and am absolutely loving my FreeSpire/Linux Mint smorgasbord of (so far) very stable and powerful applications.
And really, the only thing I can say about why some people would want to stay away from Linux, at least for now -- Gaming is not one of Linux's strong-suits. With the hundreds of various distributions of Linux, this must create some issues with developing games for the Linux PC. I suppose they could pick a couple of the more popular distros and support those, but even that I would imagine, would be very expensive considering how few people would actually be purchasing these games.
You could always have a dual-boot setup, and just load up Windows when you need to do some gaming. These distributions have had zero issues reading my NTFS (Windows) partition, so in a dual boot setup, you wouldn't have trouble accessing your media you have on your windows drive.