Given I only have limited amounts of “free” time, there are a number of things I expect to work out of the box with a Linux distribution.
- Network support (vanilla DHCP in my case).
- Video support (recent but not bleeding edge - ATI Radeon 9200, 1600x1200x32 screen).
- Multiple disk support (partitions on more than one disk with a single mount point).
In the past I have done by-hand build and configure to get the proper network and video drivers - but would rather not now.
Tried out Debian 3.0r4, Fedora 3.90 (Fedora 4 test1), Gentoo 2005.0, Mandrake 10.1, Solaris 10, Knoppix 3.7, SUSE 9.2, Fedora 3, and Ubuntu 5.04. Of the whole set, I could not get Solaris to install, Debian and Gentoo came up without X, and with the exception of Fedora and Ubuntu the others came up short in network, video, or multidisk support. Nothing that could not be worked around likely - with enough work (well, Solaris probably needs different hardware…).
Fedora works and is somewhat familiar. The menu organisation is somewhat improved (in Gnome?). Ubuntu works so well at first at first I thought perhaps this was a warmed-over Fedora distribution - but Ubuntu is based on Debian! Interesting!
Ubuntu seems very well put together, and I have had an inclination to play with Debian for various reasons, so this looks like the right choice - at least so far.