Welcome to the dark side.
There's basicallywo schools of thought on Linux:
1). These 'user friendly' distributions like Ubuntu, Linux Mint & Fedora, which use complicated scripts like upstart to seemingly make things simple for you. Generally they work well, but with a few caveats:
- Software isn't up to date (they only upgrade major releases every 6-12 months). This can lead to security issues. Can be bypassed by using 3rd party software repositories but often that leads to getting zero support.
- Often scripts are complex to modify or do anything with, try comparing upstart to systemd, this means that your system will be a lot harder to custom-configure to your own personal requirements.
- The forums/IRC are often full of people with little Linux knowledge because of their draw, which can lead to a very frustrating experience when trying to resolve issues. Don't believe me? Hang out on the Ubuntu Forum for a day and watch how many threads go unanswered.
2). 'Expert' distributions like Arch Linux & Gentoo. These often take some time to configure, but once set up they will keep your software up to date, not require a heart-wrenching 'upgrade' every 6 months and be easy to configure.
I personally recommend Arch Linux to just about anyone (as long as they're willing to learn and read) for these reasons:
- The wiki covers just about everything. Literally.
- The IRC & forums can solve most issues (although they will be annoyed if you keep asking them questions which are answered on the Wiki / forums already).
- The distribution is light-weight & configurable.
If you choose to go with Arch Linux, please read these three documents before inserting installation media:Arch Compared to Other Distributions
- This explains the differences between Arch and distributions like Ubuntu.Beginner's Guide
- This is written for inexperienced users and should help you set up & configure an Arch Linux system.Xorg Installation Guide
- This will get you running a graphical user interface, it's very simple so don't be intimidated by it.
Ultimately, you'll probably hear a lot of people pushing you towards the first group of distros, I'd suggest if you have a couple of days, try both and see what you like. The advantages are as follows:
- Set up & go: No complex installation process, GUI from the get-go.
- Easy to use: Designed to act like Windows / Mac OS X and hide the 'hard bits'.
- Powerful & cutting-edge: Your software will be the newest versions with the latest features.
- Easy to configure: Whilst it takes a few hours (give yourself 3-4) to set up how you want it, it's far easier than Ubuntu et. al to modify later
- YOURS: Won't come with a bunch of software you don't want, you choose what you need. Minimal memory footprint.
Remember, make your own decision. I've tried both camps. I started with Slackware in 1998, I tried Debian, I tried Ubuntu, I tried Mint. I tried OpenBSD and FreeBSD. I found Arch and have stayed with it for just over 3 years, it's been a learning experience but for the most part my computers run how I want them to: fast, stable and customized to my liking. When they don't, it's because I've changed something wrong, and it's usually trivial to solve it and get them doing so again.
Good luck and hope you like Linux.