And far more secure and far more stable.
I’m a little confused with all the Gnome and KDE chatter that I see in refrence to Linux in general.
Linux doesn’t use the same model as Windows, where the desktop is heavily integrated with the OS, so much so that the average user doesn’t make the distinction.
Linux is the kernel. It’s the backbone. On top of that, you can choose to run a terminal, if you want text-mode only. Or, you can choose to run a desktop. KDE and Gnome are simply the most popular; there are actually several others.
hendersj recommended Gnome; my vote is for KDE. As a former Windows user, I prefer it. But like hendersj, I freely admit that this is personal taste and encourage you to try both.
Also, my current machine’s spec’s are;
-2.40GHz Intel Pentium 4 Processor.
-512MB of ram.
-With onboard graphics and sound.
The latest mature/stable release is Opensuse 11.1, and it should run fine on that. Be warned that if you have NVidia or ATI graphics, you may need to install a vendor-supplied driver to get 3D effects. Suse makes this easy for you; if this turns out to be your case, simply post back here with your video specs and someone will help.
Also, I know that WINE allows you to run windows applications. Would this include photoshop cs4 and microsoft office 2007?
Go to the Wine site (WineHQ - Run Windows applications on Linux, BSD, Solaris and Mac OS X) for the app compatibility list. And there’s a mature, stable alternative to Wine nowadays: virtualization. You can install Opensuse as your primary OS, add a virtualization system (I use virtualbox), and then install Windows into a virtual “sandbox.” That way, you can simply run Windows in Linux without far less worry about compatibility.
The only drawback in your case is that you’d almost certainly have to increase your RAM. 512K is kindof skimpy for virtualization (each virtual “box” will need its own chunk of RAM – essentially the same amount that the OS would need if running on its own, and that subtracts from the RAM available for Linux).
Any insight onto this would be greatly appriciated as SuSE appears to be a rather powerful OS.
And remember, Linux is created by thousands of programmers around the world, many (most!) of whom are unpaid volunteers. That’s what makes it REALLY amazing.