With my wife's laptop just died and she using mine, I would have to jump on some linux ship. Cr0sh, what version of linux do you recommend for a beginner. What I hate about unix is the need to know so many commands that I don't use everyday. I want something easy to use with good GUI.
I currently use Ubuntu (10.04 LTS - I'm behind a rev); I've used it since rev 8.04 - so far (overall) its been a joy, compared to other distros I've played with (and I've been playing with Linux since 1995 in one form or another, but my first real distro was Turbo Linux 2.0 in 1998 - that's an old Japanese Linux distro).
Why do I like it? Because for the most part - it just works. Very easy to set up and install; you can try it as a LiveCD or Live USB stick - give that a shot first on your box to make sure everything works properly - note that it may take a while to boot up, because it is running from memory and a comparatively slow drive (ie - the CD or USB stick); once in-memory, though, it isn't too bad - this will allow you to "try-before-you-buy", and it won't cause any harm to existing 'doze partitions. Otherwise, just download the install ISO and run.
Package updates and complete version upgrades have been mostly painless (there was an issue in 8.10 or so where Samba access was problematic - but a rev update in a couple of weeks fixed the issue, fortunately); I installed it once (at 8.04) and am now on 10.04 LTS, all the updates to here were done via the net and the auto-update package manager.
I found the installing the Arduino software (my install is fairly out of date - I'm still on 0019) took some acrobatics, and I've forgotten what I had to do - but I installed it based on some tutorials and such on the old forums, before there was a package to install with (which I believe there is now); so my install was done to a directory in my home folder. What's nice about this is that since everything for each rev of Arduino is in its own folder, I can run older versions of the platform as needed, if needed.
There is very little software out there that can't be run using Linux - Ubuntu being no exception; there is a ton of applications available out there (BTW - if you want an -awesome- video editing app that isn't too complex - check out OpenShot), and every programming language under the sun - something I've been recently playing with is QB64, which has been pretty awesome overall (I have a soft spot for BASIC - it's what I grew up on). I've also successfully got various old DOS games and such running using DOSEMU (which comes with a FreeDOS install), and I have managed to get the Window's version of Eagle running using Wine (though the Linux version works better - then again, if I ever get to the point of needing it, which - though I always say I'll use it, hasn't happened yet - that I will stick with gEDA and/or Kicad for schematic capture and PCB design).
I'm not much of a gamer, but what is out there and available for Linux (not just Ubuntu, though there is plenty in the archives, too) suits me fine. Still, if you want to play the latest and the greatest, you're going to want something else besides *nix, of course. I keep hoping that this changes (there's no reason it couldn't, except for the inertia - there's plenty of support to develop games every bit as good under Linux as under Windows).
As far as the command line is concerned - you're still going to want to learn how to use it, if for nothing else than to kill rogue processes. While there are plenty of GUI tools for this sort of thing (and they have all turned out to be really nice over the years), I have found that having a knowledge of the command line to be very important (but then again, I kinda grew up with the command line in one form or another), as well as useful (there are a ton of things you can do at the command line, once you understand your shell, that are impossible to do with a GUI in any reasonable way - heh, wget alone makes the command line worthwhile).