So having decided to move away from Arch Linux it was time to choose another distribution.
The first observation though is just the richness of the current Linux Desktops, remembering the horrors of trying to get Fedora Core 1 to install and the nightmare of the first Ubuntu installation I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth the process has become.
Firstly Fedora, Ubuntu and Mint all come with live CD installers meaning you can actually boot the install from the disk and have a play with the software before committing to installing it.
So I started with Mint, a friend Alex Mclean, had recommend Cinnamon Mint version and I knew the inclusion of the non-free bits (MP3 and Flash would be something less to worry about). It booted and installed fine but I had concerns about being so far downstream Debian -> Ubuntu -> Mint and the inevitable package lag that that can cause. (I maybe should have considered the Debian Mint Edition but I didn’t.)
Having decided against Mint my intention was to go with Ubuntu. Firstly I think Gnome3 looks ok and the Unity things is kind of neat but having said that I was immediately going to install i3. The Ubuntu install worked fine however the update process failed after being left running overnight. Now in defence later inspection would show that a Dropbox install had crashed the whole thing but the software update stuff had just crashed and was offering no advice and in fact was jammed broken, forcing me to flush apt. This was not the low hassle support world I wanted.
Having been disappointed my Ubuntu and realising that the Dropbox fault would likely effect Mint as well I had into the more familiar territory of Redhat and fedora Core 17 XFCE spin. I choose the XFCE spin as I had a lean setup from my Arch install which I would be able to reuse and I kind of like it, fast, simple and gets out of the way.
Fedora 17 installed, updated and i3 installed alongside as well.
Dropbox crashed again through installation but did not crash yum and I was able to manually complete the install.
So I am now on Fedora 17 XFCE spin after having had an enjoyable day playing with distributions and every install offered me working WIFI, function keys, bluetooth and 3D graphics!