Here are my notes on installing and using Debian's GNU/Linux. Let me just say that Debian is more than a good OS to get on you PC!  Time to format those Windoze partitions!

On the xfce and lxde pages, you can see the steps I take to get debian up and running by firstly using the Debian Net-install CD, which gets the base system installed, retrieving most of it from over the internet, and then installing all my chosen software packages.  I've kept it pretty minimal, without all the extras or recommends.  There's a lot more you could add or leave out, depending on your likes or work needs. 

I began with Ubuntu, (a Debian-based distro, with lots of GUI extras and automatics) but soon switched over to Debian so that I could keep things lean and fast.  I used Xfce to begin with for my Desktop Environment, because of it being lighter than other DE's, and then I used LXDE for a long while, which is even lighter in some areas, and really just as aesthetic.  Now I've left LXDE and found I can just use Openbox alone, and without a display manager either.

So if you need an OS that just works about 100% all the time, which is fast, and customisable, and satisfaction-giving, perhaps you could look at these notes and glean some ideas (er, like I gleaned from the internet and tons of "trial and error" to make these notes!)
Gone are the days of a hanging system!

If you are totally new to Linux, or don't feel able to build it yourself, I would suggest you use a Debian live CD with a Desktop Environment included.  That way you can just install "out of the box" and learn more later in your own time.  See the links to Live CD's on the Xfce Install page.  If you have real problems trying to set up Debian (say, on a latest model laptop) and you currently don't have the time to work things out, you could see if a Ubuntu distro (e.g. Lubuntu), or Linux Mint, works better, so that at least you can get using Linux.  

Latest updates October '14

Above, my debian wheezy desktop showing the Xfce menu and custom launcher panels (normally set to auto hide)
And below, after some tweaks!

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