There are many distributions, so many it's impossible to know them all, let alone test them. Anyway, here you'll find no tests. These pages are only my feelings about them.

fedora Core

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Fedora Core is Red Hat's free Linux OS. I have never liked Red Hat's implementation (I still have a 6.1 box but never really used the system).

Red Hat / Fedora have always been Gnome centric and Fedora currently uses Gnome 3.0 which is a no-go for me. They have very short release cycles, which may be good for new hardware support but I prefer stability.

Not much more to say here: I've regularely tried every flavour of Red Hat / Fedora core and just as regularely ditched it. You mileage may vary, of course...

Mageia Linux

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Mandrake Linux was created as a "KDE Red Hat". I used it back when it was version 8.0, it worked well on my laptop.

To me, Mandrake's story is one of the best examples a Linux story turned bad.

Gaël Duval created Mandake as a Red Hat derivative. His success prompted him to create a commercial company (MandrakeSoft) that later fired him. MandrakeSoft acquired Connectiva and was renamed Mandriva.

They continued to have a crazy approach of Linux software, proposing a free version but nagging to let you purchase their paid version (which contained almost nothing more). SuSE was consequent: they needed money so they sold their product.

In the end Mandriva died and laid out developpers created Mageia. I've tried it once and their were many glitches, so I dropped it. Maybe worth another try?

Sabayon Linux

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Sabayon Linux is Gentoo based but not Gentoo (which sends Gentoo fanatics crazy).

Basically, it's a compiled Gentoo so it let's you install Gentoo without the "compile everything" hassle. Once installed, you can emerge software from the Gentoo stock.

I used it a while with satisfaction, but it took over KDE 4 and there are no Trinity ebuilds so that was the end of it.

Sabayon is a very heavy distribution (which is quite the opposite of Gentoo's idea), with elaborate multimedia support. I would suggest using it to get an "easy install" idea of Gentoo - if you like Gentoo but not Sabayon you can turn to the original.

Sabayon offers a media center and now even includes a pre-installed Steam (for games). You can choose between the Gentoo install mode and a binary installer.

So, if you're aiming for a system that gives you most of what Windows would give you, try Sabayon. I definitely must give it another try!

Doudou Linux

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Doudou Linux is special because it's a distribution for kids. I don't mean it is for kids to install but for kids to use.

It's debian based, runs as a live CD but can also be installed on the hard disc. There are basic an more advanced levels. Children quickly get how to use it.

There are simple and more complex games, school level exercises (most of them available for free download but in Doudou they are already integrated)

My daughter uses it since she was 2.

My goal is not to force her to use Linux (although I will oppose Windows, not for "religious" reasons but for security reasons, and I don't want to repair her computer all the time), but she will know it IS possible to use Linux without being a geek.

Trinity Desktop

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Trinity Desktop is a fork of KDE 3. I cannot thank enough Timothy Pearson and his team for their work, so often despised by others on the forums.

When KDE 4 came out (not even to mention the disaster of it's beginning), those that wanted to keep KDE 3's sleek and efficient working were quickly considered dinosaurs that did not want to move to a more modern Desktop Environment.

Actually, we don't need wobbly windows and semi-transparent apps, we don't want notifications popping up. KDE 4 developpers did listen to some users complains and, with a lot of work, and by stopping half of what they worked to add, you can live with KDE 4.

But Trinity Desktop is fast, simple, it just works. And it retains Konqueror as a file browser (the simple fact that KDE 4 killed it in favour of Dolphin because basic users found it too complicated explains my dislike of KDE 4. Any time one makes tool more simple instead of educating the users, one takes the wrong approach).
Trinity is available for Ubuntu, Debian, Red Hat and derivatives, openSUSE, and some others.

Will Trinity Desktop survive on the long term? I don't know. But it has given me years of enjoyable computer use and maybe, if it dies in the end, we will have another usable desktop environnment by that time.