Thanks for your advice The Ecologist, Vinux, Link and Dason:
I have downloaded: Linux Mint 11; ubuntu and PCLOS Gnome to try out. Having trouble writing the later, but I have had a day with MINT 11 and so far Im pretty hooked.
I just need to figure out how to install R as it doesn't look overly intuative to newbee. I also need to find out if there are linux based alternatives to Adobe P/S and lightroom, which is all that is holding me back from a full install.
Im impressed with the speed and absence of popup tags and the overall look of it!
I am using Mint 11 right now and I will have a go with ubuntu. I also want to try PCLOS Gnome, but for some reason It hangs when I boot it from live cd. I thought it might have been a RAM issue on my aging laptop, or maybe a graphics card issue but it does the same on my work HP probook.
I have donwloaded it twice now and tried writing to disk at slower speeds. But still nothing.
I'll also try KDE.
I am looking around the web for alternatives to essential windows software before I make the cross - over! I think most will run in Wine, but there are question marks over a few.
Gimp is indeed a good alternative for Photoshop but it will require you to relearn much.
I have never gotten endnote to work through wine, that is the office plugin via wine.
I have wasted countless hours getting such stuff to work, I got allot to work but it was mostly in vain because it is still quite inadequate compared to running in a windows native.
I really really really advise you to forget about wine for such things and install Oracle Virtual Box with an windows install. You will limit your abilities to collaborate with peers that use windows if you don't. A virtual box will allow you to have the compatibility you need for your work, while having all the benefits of linux. The best of both worlds.
Yes, I'm extremely happy. I bought it customized from hp.com and there was an issue with production and shipping (they were switching from the ENVY 13 and 15 to ENVY 14 and 17's and I guess were out of supplies). After getting it though, it's done every heavy load I've put on it with no problems.
There IS an issue with the right mouse click on it...you can't press down on the bottom right corner to right click. However, tapping on the bottom right corner still works. Additionally, you can activate the synaptic touchpad features to do double tap right clicks and two finger scrolling.
Just to install virtualbox? Or to get a virtual machine up and running?
Because if the second then that's reasonable. Really all you're doing is saying "Hey computer. Pretend that you're also another computer" - so the computer needs to use enough resources for that other computer to run reasonably as well.
BTW, just an update for those following my awkward path to redemption...
I moved off the live cd and tried to dual boot xp with Linux Mint 11. As I have never partitioned a hard drive (I have only ever partitioned variance up until now), I managed to wipe windows completely! oops. haha. At least I don't have the dilemma of whether I should switch over completely now