I have been downloading, installing, evaluating the various updates for the main Linux vendors, including Ubuntu 13.04, Fedora 18, Centos 6.4 and Debian 7.0, both in their Gnome and KDE variants on desktop PC's and notebook.
First is Ubuntu 13.04 (with Gnome desktop), built on Debian Linux, Ubuntu is very polished, geared uptowards future touch screen devices, which matches their future offerings for phone, tablet and TV, this provides a nice universal interface if you have and use all those type of devices, it's much the same device offering as to Apple's (BSD based) iOS, which is a universal OS across its itouch, iphone, ipad and laptop range. The latest Ubuntu I feel is stripped of functional utilities for the base install, it's great if you want a straightforward desktop/touch device with basic functions, ie. music, video, browser & Office functionality. I installed Ubuntu 13.04 on an old Dell Inspiron 6000 Notebook, it works like a treat and is fast compared to the MS Windows XP that was originally on this device. The install was so easy and automated, very pleasant experience. You can download the "Live/Install" DVD so you can boot it and run it without trashing your existing O/S, you can try out the functionality and if you happy with it, then hit the Install icon to install onto your PC. If you prefer KDE desktop, then download Kubuntu 13.04)
(Ubuntu 13.04 and Kubuntu 13.04 do not work on Dell 450 Precision with Nvidia video from the standard installation, it will most likely require some manual installing of Nvidia drivers to make it work properly)
Fedora 18 (with Gnome desktop) - nice look and feel, easy access to some ham utilities, I installed this on a Dell 450 Precision desktop, works fine, I also tested it Live on the Dell Inspiron 6000 notebook, works fine. Fedora also has a Live/Install DVD so you can test without trashing your original O/S. Fedora also offers a KDE desktop version. I tested the KDE version on both Dell Precision 450desktop and Dell Inspiron 6000 Notebook.
CentOS 6.4 - this is the first download.test.install of CentOS that I have tried, CentOS stands for Community Enterprise Operating System, it is a free distribution, of upstream version of the commercial RedHat Enterprise Linux (RHEL), except with the logos and artwork replaced and with community support.
I knew IRLP was running on CentOS and I deal with RedHat at work, but running the Live/Install DVD, I found myself very impressed by the presentation, both in the Gnome desktop and KDE desktop variants, of course Centos (and RedHat) do not run the latest, cutting edge versions of Gnome or KDE, but in practise, the older versions are better for a desktop/notebook environment. I guess this is what Ubuntu and Fedora were like a few years ago. What I did like with the Gnome instalaltion, that it provided some of the best KDE utilities along with the Gnome utilities, it's the best of both worlds.
Debian 7.0 The old faithful Debian, like the Ubuntu/Kubuntu, it does not like the Dell Precision 450 desktop with Nvidia video, you get blank panels, like on Ubuntu/Kubuntu. I tested Debian with both Gnome desktop and KDE desktop, the Debian provides the full featured desktop with all the utulities and tools required for true computing.
if you looking for basic functionality with latest cutting-edge technology, then the Ubuntu or Fedora is the way to go, if you looking to play around with Amateur Radio programs like WSJT, PSK31, Hellscreiber, RTTY, CW and maybe do some development work on a desktop PC or Notebook, then stick to CentOS or Debian Linux flavours. Whether you prefer a full featured desktop such as Gnome desktop or KDE desktop, then both CentOS and Debian cover both.
Of course if you want a set of devices that are locked down, but very stable and supported, and you have money to burn, then go buy your Apple devices, they still great devices for non-technical people. If you want to have multiple devices with some freedom, then go for Google's Android/Chrome (built from Linux) devices, although I suspect Android/Chrome will eventually become locked down like Apple iOS. If you want choose when, what & how you do things, then stick to Linux. From a multi-device, universal O/S, I must admit I like the future offerings from Canonical with their phone,tablet,notebook,TV using Ubuntu, waiting to see which OEM vendors pick it up (most likely Samsung). Visit the Ubuntu.com site and see the future devices on offers.