Thanks for all your input. I've been considering the various options and am left with two reasonable choices:
i ) Stay with Windows 7
ii) Go with Slackware 14 (The only other distro I would consider is Debian, but the kernel in the stable branch won't support my hardware and I don't want to start swapping kernels this early in the game).
At this point I'd say that having Aftershot Pro, k3b (and Nero seems to work fine in Ubuntu 12.04), Imagemagick and OpenOffice under Linux would do just fine for me. I don't have Microsoft Office, so that's not a concern. But I do have an older version of PaintShop Pro and Photoshop Elements which would be very, very nice to get going under Linux. But neither of those packages are compatible with WINE as of yet. I've been tinkering with the idea of using a virtual machine to get them going but I'm concerned about performance and cooling (I have a total of 4GB of RAM and an Intel i3 on my notebook computer ... I would likely allocate one CPU core, and 1 to 2 GB of RAM to the Windows 7 VM). Also, I would prefer to use VMware Player as opposed to VirtualBox.
The reason I would like to move away from Windows as my host operating system is simply because it's a money pit with a fuzzy future - fuzzy because MS is pushing Metro and I see a day where Metro apps become the only supported format. Goodbye backwards-compatibility... (maybe)
Essentially, when it comes to Linux, it's Slackware or bust. But there is always Windows and I'm not making any changes until the new version of Slackware is released.
Last edited by mammal0x17; 08-19-2012 at 02:10 PM.