I despaired, and as usual, when I suffer GNU/Linux despair, I reached for Ubuntu, copied an iso to a flashdrive using "dd" and had the system installed in excellent time.
The experience has been wonderful. I had just recently installed Debian, but my experience was pretty frustrating. I am a mere mortal, I fear. When I posted a question on the Debian mailing list, I got an answer something like "you have to be tech saavy." There are a lot of bad vibes on some lists. Only Gentoo---long ago---was 100% nice.
YMMV, but I am extremely happy with how it's going with Ubuntu. I will probably update, but maybe not for a while. I've gone and compiled emacs and a few other items on my own.
I am eating many words about Ubuntu from past times. No GNU/Linux install is going to go perfectly, but this has been fantastic.
- Most packages are in the repositories and up to date
- The developers have taken great pains to ensure that all components work together nicely. (It's all seamless).
- I am getting used to Unity
- The PPAs are well documented, pretty much.
- The freezeups I was getting using Fedora are not happening, so far (Knock On Wood)
- Plugging in a flash drive or a USB HDD goes well and easy.
- Even for a Brother DCP-7020, which works well but was painful to install using the OEM's detailed instructions, the printer was working instantaneously, after running the CUPS interface on "localhost:631" in the URL bar of my browser.
- On the install, I got stuck on a step or two. I can't rememer which steps now.
I have installed Xubuntu on my other machine, and had good luck. My only unfavorable impression is the Xubuntu developers have mangled XFCE4 a bit much. It all works nicely. The desktop's appearance and icons, etc., were not expecially endearing.
It is FAST and nice.