I believe the last one of these was a little while back and a few interesting things have happened (both in terms of windows and not worlds) as well as a nice bit of general progress. This probably means desktop linux but should you build servers, media players or have nice things to say about tools (much love for clonezilla here and why anybody would use something other than gparted or parted magic for proper partitioning I am not sure). Likewise if you know what you are using then your preferred desktop environment is also nice to know. Others still not sure of linux although there hundreds of distros wandering much outside of the ones detailed on the link in a second is not worth the hassle*. http://distrowatch.com/dwres.php?resource=major Most of those will be liveCDs which means you can burn a disc or copy it to a USB drive and have it run from there or if your machine is a reasonable spec then you might also want to give a virtual machine ( https://www.virtualbox.org/ being a good start) a go as well. For those just coming in and wishing to give something a go, whether you ultimately use it for a main OS or not is more or less irrelevant although being able to get around in some form of linux or BSD is a pretty good still to have. *possible exception if you sub in Gentoo for Arch linux. Myself I still have a many way split- debian is still my chosen server environment for the most part, desktop seems to be a split between opensuse and mint (I am a great fan of the latter but the former seems to be the thing I have used most) and for low end/liveCD stuff still all about puppy linux for me although opensuse is edging it out a bit. With XP on the way out, firefox and libreoffice doing well for most office stuff and a few people enjoying security laptops (usually a version of opensuse) I have even got a few test linux installs in various offices which are doing well (granted most domains I deal with probably could do without). I will note I pretty much gave up on gentoo and arch linux- they are great learning tools (do not do it first but give it a go at one point) and make for some fantastic machines if you have the desire, that said I am usually opting for net installs for whatever I happen to be using. Tangentially related at best if you are up for something that opens itself to fiddling I can safely say http://www.proxmox.com/downloads/proxmox-ve/17-iso-images will scratch that itch. On desktop environments- I am pretty DE agnostic although XFCE and the other lighter ones that are not fluxbox and ones like it would probably be where I lean towards given the option. That said linux mint's mate versions are very nice if you have the machine to back it (not terribly hard but most of my spare/toy machines still seem to be P4 vintage).