I have been using 10.04 for quite some time. Previous versions were a bit flaky. This one is pretty solid so far.
Brother printer works ok
nvidia upgraded video card works
I attempted to use ubuntu 11.xx. Despised the layout, slow, and did not seem stable.
What are the major differences between the distros and gui frontends? (link is fine)
Are some more stable than others, especially regarding hardware support? Community support?
i.e. Will my Brother printer work on all the distros, or is it known some distros have poor hardware support?
This would be for a home machine:
firefox, libre office, gimp, mp3s ripping, pdf viewer of some sort, youtube, vlc, package manager...helpful
Business partition I use centos. Good enough.
All GUI front-ends (desktops) can be run on any distro. But dependent on how well the distro tracks the latest versions, not the cutting edge desktop version might be included. But then again, stability is inverse proportional with the version number. Debian Stable runs KDE 4.4.5 and the previous stable version ran KDE 3.x. Debian has also Testing and Unstable available. At certain moments in time those versions are not 100% stable.
There is a difference between distros in overall stability. Again being up-to-date is inversely proportional to stability. Debian Stable is so stable you'd first replace the power supply of your computer than having to reboot it for other reasons.
Same goes for hardware support. The more stable the distro, the more outdated the drivers are. When in doubt, google before you decide on a certain distro or version. You might be forced to install a more updated distro at the cost of stability. Ubuntu is very up-to-date, but there are others.
Here is a nice comparison of the top 10 distros:
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