I know I'm cool because I use Ubuntu Linux. Keith Shackleton at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Ottawa promotes it. He's cool too.
"Search engines and Human Rights -- try Babieca and Ubuntu"
The fact is that I think we have here a desktop Linux that works for non-experts. The upgrade from the last version was wonky, but that's my fault I think: I glided over the directions too fast, and used a pre-release version as as "production" machine, which they said the pre-release isn't for.
OK: enough with the mea culpa. This is great software. It has simplified and de-jargoned the menus. Once you set up the kind of software you want -- based on how intellectually free it is, and if there is official support for it -- most of the software you would want is a click away. The one thing I want to accent is that Ubuntu Linux is both the main distribution, but that there are other, authorized distrubutions for use as a server (not desktop), for children, and with two alternate desktop environments. The environment is "the look and feel." One desktop environment I want to examine, with its accompanying distribution, is Xubuntu ("zoo-boon-too") with the xfce environment which has a reputation of being good for old equipment and relying strongly on default configurations, making it more approachable (in theory) for some users.
I don't have the ability to bench test the two versions (much less bench test it on an old machine) but I'll kick the tires and report back later.