the gcc (gnu c compiler (contains g++ their c++ compiler) is a pretty powerful compiler, and gdb (gnu debugger) is excellent.
Even more to the point, I've heard EMACS is amazing for coding in.
As for computer enthusiasts? Well they'd probably download and use a distribtuion that was trying to be it's self, not trying to be as easy as possible to install like linspire does. Not that other distributions are hard to install.
If you've never installed an OS (including windows) before then sure, stick with linspire (although I'd still recommend mandrake or if you're confident debian or slackware), but if you actually know what's inside your computer (and if you're doing c++ I hope you do) then go for a distribution which will perhaps be less quick to patronise you.
As for installation, I can't speak for linspire, but for slackware you just burn the ISOs to disk, boot to CD1, then from there it tells you how to create a linux partition and install, an hour or so later you have a working GNU/linux OS.
I strongly (and I cannot recommend this enough) whatever distro you get, head to freenode IRC and join their channel; unless it's debian (they're a bunch of asses in there) they'll probably be quite receptive and helpful.