Ubuntu (Just a quick drive from Redmond, WA) - Ubuntu is quickly becoming one of the most popular Linux distributions. Its current release is version 7.04, entitled Feisty Fawn. The next version will be 7.10, dubbed Gutsy Gibbon. Gibbon will bring new support for simplified Xorg configurations (making it easier to setup video cards, graphics modes, etc.) and it will be the first to include a full mobile or embedded edition. It will also carry with it what many feel is the biggest addition to Linux: Compiz Fusion. It's an enhanced 3D GUI which many believe greatly exceeds Windows Vista in presence, friendliness, ease of use and configuration.
TG Daily wrote an article entitled Leaving Redmond, WA in 24 Hours. That article outlined many of the quirks Windows users might encounter as they switched to Ubuntu or Linux in general. In our experience it takes about 24 hours of OS research on use to become familiar enough with Linux. That's if you're an average Windows user. And in that time the foundation is laid for a new way to use your computer, one that in our experience is even fun again.
The Redmond, WA article was based on the 7.04 release which primarily uses more traditional GUIs like Gnome and KDE--though it can also use Compiz or Beryl as alternative 3D desktops. Since companies like Dell and Intel have begun showing significant interest in Ubuntu, with Intel even going so far as devoting significant stage time and a keynote interview to Ubuntu and its team during their Fall IDF 2007, the Ubuntu management and development groups have begun focusing on giving users more of what they want in a Windows-like OS. It's primarily that rich, multi-media experience that's being injected into Gibbon today, one which will definitely raise the face of Linux.
Part of the reason why Gutsy Gibbon will include a full mobile/embedded version is the rich graphics and trend toward flashier mobile devices. Intel is looking to use Ubuntu as its de facto mobile OS, for MIDs, notebooks, PDAs, and all small devices. This changing face of Ubuntu, from standard GUI to the uber-graphical GUI, will help make Gibbon a more desirable alternative to Windows on every platform. Finally, in a graphical manner a user will be able to have the same OS on small mobile devices as on desktop and notebook.
The 7.10 release signifies a notable crossover from the traditional image of Linux as a text-based tool, or basic GUI. While those abilities can still be employed for low-overhead performance, user desirable additions like Compiz Fusion finally bring full 3D to the GUI in an integrated manner. Multi-layered windows, animations, graphics, everything you would expect from an enhanced GUI experience will be there.