I gave Windows Vista, which came with my hardware (Inspiron 545 MT), and the free Windows 7 upgrade, a fair and honest try. For two weeks I ran Win7. It was certainly better than Vista, but there were things which just did not work for me. You would hardly be surprised it centered mostly on my addiction to certain Open Source tools which are not available, or don’t work properly, on Win7. Bear in mind, the free version I got was 64-bit Home Premium, but the main problem was GNU4Win tools didn’t work at all on the commandline. They aren’t compatible.
There were other issues, mostly reflecting the commercial controls to which Windows users are restricted, limitations which have nothing to do with law or copyright, but inside deals.
We’ve already tested Ubuntu and related distros on this machine, and they are all broken on two main issues: Optical media and X.org. The former didn’t work at all, and the latter crashed and logged me out at the oddest times. Nobody seemed to have a clue, as I searched extensively. Nothing in the logs answered any questions I knew how to ask. But openSUSE 11.2 runs without those glitches. By no means can we call it perfect, but it sucks less, as one Open Source project used to claim for itself.
I am mostly OS agnostic. Given Mac-heads have recently done so much to bring a bigger and better variety of Open Source projects on board, I would be willing to run Snow Leopard, but it’s not worth the hassle. If Syllable or Haiku were ready for prime time, and could run properly on my system, I’d be willing to give them a try. A few details are missing from FreeBSD, or I would have already tried that, too.
I’m not a fanboy of any of them. The closest I come to brand loyalty is CentOS. Right now, that’s a very long way from being ready to run on this. Even the upcoming 6.0 release may miss. If I could get it to work, I wouldn’t have to worry about having to do it all again in just a few months. But for now, it’s openSUSE.