What do you call appropriate softwares? What are your needs and what software do you currently use to satisfy those needs? Please also bear in mind that installing a driver isn't really a software issue, per se. True, it is software, but it's a world away from issues installing OpenOffice, etc, etc. Do not confuse the two. One that front, have you emailed the manufacturers of your modem? I have heard many stories of people having terrible problems installed a vendor's set of Linux drivers - to me there should be no reason for it to be so painful. I recently had fun installing the manufacturer's drivers for my bro-in-law's pcmcia laptop - it was really quite easy, just the way they should be. Clear instructions, etc, etc.
Yes, WINE is unstable and it can be hard to get games to work under Linux. Does that mean that Linux is rubbish? Try complaining to the game developers that they have not made a Linux port. Why should 3rd parties take the blame for something that is not their problem? Would you blame your petrol station is you were sold a car that didn't run on petrol? No, you'd complain to the car vendor or manufacturer.
Mandrake has made great efforts on the user friendlyness, and if you're prepared to dig a little, get your hands dirty with the underlying system, then Mandrake will also allow you to do this. IMO it is great for complete beginners and those that aren't interested in how it works, just that it does work.