Sudo perspective get | some
These obscure broken netbook versions of Linux intentionally reduce a fairly powerful computing device to the level of "toy". Attempting to contort these locked down Linuxes into a fully fledged OS misses the point entirely by making a "normal" user feel less in control of their machine by requiring scary command line stuff.
Yes, Windows has it's failures. And the "toy versions" of Linux are an attempt to solve 'em by introducing compromises for the "free internet machine with yer mobile contract" crowd.
Beyond the "netbook as internet appliance" requirements, XP is the (mostly) decent compromise. A compromise that only costs circa £20 for the in-built license fee (an 512MB is perhaps advisable). Not a huge price to pay for a fully functional familiar OS that doesn't make the user feel resort to the call of "We're the Fukarwi".
If you absolutely must have a "full" Linux OS, it would seem that Ubuntu gets the nod.
But overall, Linux brings relatively little to the table for fairly clued-up, but non-geek, users. Serious security issues are no longer as clear cut as they were (and these days are ever more closely related to the user than the OS).
So as an OS, I use Windows. Sue me.
The version is largely irrelevant. But for the record, I use Vista on my Dell laptop cos it came with it and hasn't annoyed me to the point of me bothering to go through the upheaval of a re-install. XP was on my Dell desktop and has done it's job for 5+ years without the need for a re-install (but will soon get one).
On hearing that Linux is a good option on older machines, I heavily researched and tried a few of the usual suspects that would support an old spec machine and tried 'em on an old hand-me-down Compaq laptop (Xubuntu, Fluxbuntu, Puppy, DSL, PCLinuxOS). Wireless support (even after faffing with forums and "fixes")? No dice. Experiment over. Back to Win98 and a mildly useful wireless machine.
I gave it my all and really wanted to fall for Linux, but it didn't hook me at all. Whereas each version of windows has allowed me to dip right in from an original base of no knowledge and find my way around in a relatively pain-free manner.
Personally I believe that the interface of 95/98 to be wholly sufficient for the tasks we're doing today. To me, pre-95 was a manageable wrestle. But post-98 windows has just been about adding a whole load of gloss but little user / technical functionality (i.e. things such as USB, Wi-Fi, internet, some extra (annoying) pre-defined MyDocs folders, a rationalised "system file tree" and other minor bits and bobs).
It's still simply about a Desktop, a File Manager/Explorer, a Control Panel for Settings and some progs that sit on top. That's it (my biggest Vista bugbear is their attempts to re-introduce the aborted, superfluous Active Desktop).
Anyway, about those progs...
I use a host of FOSS/FS/OSS like Firefox/Opera, Foxit, doPDF, OOo, Paint.NET, avast!, CCleaner, Inkscape, AdAware, Inkscape, S&D, Inssider, vistumbler, Pidgin, Irfanview, Apache2Triad, GIMP, etc... they all do a really good job in comparison to paid for alternatives.
The key thing is that many of the above are OS agnostic. So why faff around with Terminal command lines in this day and age?
Say what you like, but I'm far from being a n00b. Remember - there are folk out there who:
-don't know the slightest difference between a jpeg, a gif, a bmp and proprietary layers-compatible files (not got png licked yet).
-have a basic understanding of what a pdf is or how to create one (or even whether it might be possible).
-know how to attach files to an email and what Cc: and Bcc: mean.
-understand the basic concept of shared network folders.
-know what an SSID is (or which few wireless channels are useful because of others overlapping).
Without knowing the difference between a .doc and a .jpeg (my boss, for example - "I just double-click on it") do we really expect folk to willingly dip into a Linux command line?
They won't even know that it's a version of Linux. Just that it's "a weird basic version of Windows."