A while back, I was experimenting with Ubuntu (10.04) in a VM (Parallels on the Mac), and thought it was pretty darn good. So, I decided to try an experiment and see if I could use Linux exclusively (instead of my Mac). So, I bought a Lenovo ThinkPad x201 - a well documented and linux-friendly machine. I tried the dual-boot Win7/Ubuntu setup. I worked on it nearly every day from Labor Day to last week, so I feel like I really did give a fair shake.
The Win7 side was OK, but felt like warmed-over XP. Nothing really floated my boat there. I used AVG for anti-virus, and it was constantly out of alignment with whatever the SecureConnect requirements were (Mac version worked flawlessly every time). Also, there were security patches that took reboots at least weekly, sometimes more frequently. It worked, but settings were hard to find, and it ran slow even with 4gb of ram.
The Ubuntu side was promising (and fast), and I nearly removed the Windows partition. Boy I’m glad I didn’t. Three times over the trial, I accepted the normal Ubuntu system updates only to have the update break my wireless. I had to go back to Windows to find a fix. With a mobility-oriented laptop, breaking wireless was just stupid. Besides, I was sure to spec the machine with the Intel wifi chip, not the Broadcom, so drivers should have been there all along. Also, the webcam never worked, despite much googling and attempts at fixing.
Ultimately, I didn’t want to use Windows, but needed to often enough because Ubuntu had broken itself, that I sold the machine. So, I’ve learned a valuable lesson – once you’ve driven a Mercedes, you can’t go back to a Yugo – you will always be disappointed. I really, really wanted to use Linux all the way, but it still requires a depth of geek-itude and fiddley-ness that I'd rather focus in other areas.
Looking at a MacBook Pro or a MacBook Air. Something that works AND is nice to look at.