My first experience with Linux was Red Hat 7.0. At the time I didn't really know anything else existed, in my eye Red Hat was Linux. Two things were frustrating for me during these early exploration days, no automounting and installing applications. For the life of me I couldn't access my CD-ROM or floppy drive and the mount command was confusing to me. Installing applications beyond what was available on the Red Hat CDs wasn't going to happen. At the time, I dual booted Red Hat and Windows 98. Spending most of my time in Windows and occassionally experiementing in Linux.
It didn't take me long to discover that there was more out there then Red Hat. Mandrake (now Mandriva) caught my eye early on, so I installed 8.0 and I felt much more comfortable with Linux. When I stuck a CD-ROM in my drive, an icon appeared on the desktop which allowed me to easily access and view all the data on the CD. Though I could still only install applications from the Mandrake CDs, it seemed to me at the time that Mandrake had a sufficently large repository of applications, more so than Red Hat.
I stayed with Mandrake for a long time, up to ver 10.2. During this time, my distaste for Windows grew and I became more and more relaxed with Linux. Linux in general seemed to mature quickly. It was like riding a rollercoaster, I loved it. I eventually removed my Windows partition and was ready for Linux full time.
After Mandrake, I tried several other distros and had significant affairs with Suse, Mepis and PCLinuxOS. They all seemed like the ideal distro for me in the beginning, but like most flirtations, the honeymoon ended quickly. Now don't get me wrong, these distributions are great, I would still recommend these to any new Linux user, but "challenges" seemed to crop up slowly which caused me to divert my attention elsewhere. Suse's YaST was slow and at the time they didn't seem to support particular and necessary formats such as mp3's and encrypted DVDs. Mepis came along and satisfied my urges with multimedia, which at the time was like a passionate romp in the hay and had me declaring it the "Perfect Distro". Mp3's and encrypted DVDs were no problem and it was my first experience with apt-get (synaptic) which made my legs quiver. But the starry-eyed lover lost me when updates began breaking my system and no one messes with my system. PCLinuxOS had longer legs then Mepis and looked sexy in a mini-skirt. PCLinuxOS made my bones melt. Everything lacking in every other distro I tried, PCLinuxOS had and more. I'll admit that my break up with PCLinuxOS was for very petty reasons. Texstar is awesome, but he's one guy I wanted some of the lastest and greatest packages and I wanted them now. Texstar tried but he just couldn't put out.
I tried for a long time to ignore the harlot Ubuntu. I gave into the pressure and found a motel for that South Africian seductress and we did the unmentionable and I liked IT. Yeah, that sudo thing is annoying but Ubuntu is hot and I quickly got use to it. She's stable, she plays with the lastest and greatest and her community assets are HUGE. There are documents, helps, wikis, books and more. I've been riding Ubuntu for just over a year now and I have to say, anytime I've needed help, there has been a tutorial, how-to or help giving me step by step instructions everytime. The instructions have been specific, easy to follow and worked every time and I do some freaky things.
My eyes have yet to wander from Ubuntu. Nothing else seems to attract me. Ubuntu satisfies me like no other distro has. I see a long and happy relationship here, in fact there maybe a bun in the oven developing. I'm working on a specialized distro based on Ubuntu-server. More to come on that.