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Quote Originally Posted by fisharmor View Post

HB, you're splashing around in a pretty big ocean.
Every year or so I go to this site and burn 5 or 6 distros from this page. It's usually necessary, because the likelihood that ANY operating system is going to load perfectly on any and all hardware is exactly zero. E.g., I just downgraded a Win8 machine to Win7, and remembered that I have never, not once, had Windows automatically connect to the internet after I loaded it.
I've also burned discs of a lot of dud linux distributions. The norm is that it seems like everything is going to work, and then it locks up on part of the install.
I'm gonna guess the failure rate I have on a particular piece of hardware is around 25%.

If you get it installed, odds are everything is going to work well enough to get you going. However, you might also have a negative reaction to the way it's laid out. Just try out a different distro and move on.

Once you get a version you like, you'll find at some point is that all Linux is the same, and the only significant differences are
1) the repository that's used, and
2) the window manager/ desktop environment which is used

The window manager/ desktop env is the graphical interface. This whole conversation was started by the fact that Metro is a useless piece of $#@!, and it stems from the fact that it's a totally different desktop environment from traditional Win95 layout. If you ever used 3.1, you'll remember it was really different, too.
Well, Linux has a smorgasbord of GUIs available. They're also really easily swappable. For instance, Linux Mint comes with a couple different desktop environments available, but I run Mint with Englightenment, which I downloaded with the package manager.

Which brings us to the package management problem. Think about Google Play or the Apple App Store. They have centralized places where you go to get software. Well, with desktop Linux, there are app repositories that are kind of the same idea. But there are a couple competing package systems.
The two most popular are Debian's .deb packages and Red Hat's .rpm packages. Arch has been mentioned and IIRC it uses something totally different, as does Gentoo. But the top downloads on DistroWatch generally tend to be builds that use one of the above two package systems, or else a totally bespoke build that gets distributed for a particular purpose (like Puppy, which tries to be as small as it can and still functional and so skips the package management altogether).

So if you go for it, I'd suggest you find a couple different distros that use either Red Hat or Debian package management. That will tie you into one of the biggest "app marketplaces". Just about everything else about any particular distro can be made to look like any other distro.