It's been a while since I last used any Linux operating system full-time in my own computer. Back when I was in college and still had tons of free time, I would always try to get the latest and great Linux distribution just to try it out. That's how I really got familiar with Linux. I always recommend to co-workers and other people interested in Linux to just grab a distribution, even if it's a Live CD, and just play around with it. If they get stuck, there's tons of help on the Internet, along with my own help, so any fears they have should disappear.
Anyway, I'm heading off topic with that, and I'll maybe write about it some other time. For now, I wanted to write about my recent experience. I do use Linux every single day at work, but only at servers, where the command line rules them all. However, I hadn't used Linux for the desktop in a while. I guess I didn't want to fiddle around with installing and configuring the OS to my needs. But a friend at work told me he started using Ubuntu, and that basically got me into the Linux mood again.
I had already tried Ubuntu, ever since version 4.10, and I liked it. Still, I thought it was too "user friendly" for me. I know user friendliness is a great thing. But come on - this is Linux! It's meant to be difficult, right? That was my previous point of view on the subject. But after installing Ubuntu once again, I'm totally hooked. The last version, 6.10, really makes a great name for itself. It has all the user friendliness you can give new users, but it also allows those power users do whatever they can do with other Linux distributions.
I obviously installed Linux to work with Ruby on Rails. I have to tell you, Rails on Windows is a bit of a pain. It just doesn't feel right to work with Ruby or Rails in a Windows environment. I'll also save that for some other time. But after installing Ruby and Rails here, I've been pretty damn productive with my Rails learnings. It's been a really great tool.
For now, Ubuntu stands as the leader of the Linux world, at least in my option. This is the distribution that will most likely propel Linux into mainstream usage, not just for geeks like myself who just love to tinker around with these things. Other companies have been doing great on other fronts, such as Novell (with SuSE and OpenSuSE) and Red Hat (with Fedora Core and its own Enterprise Server). But to me, Ubuntu is the distribution that will help get Linux into many homes that have only seen Windows stuff before. And with Windows Vista's apparent shortcomings (I haven't tried the OS yet, so I may be misinformed), along with Apple's very excellent Mac OS X (with increased Apple hardware sales), I think these systems that are in the minority will finally gain some market share that Microsoft has been hogging for years. Look out, Vista.