OK, I am a Windows/dot.net guy and have been for many years and for the past several years have also been a Mac guy as well. But I am also an embedded guy who cut his teeth on Intel 8051 assembly and Analog Devices Sharc 21000 series assembly. There has never been a huge need for me to deal heavily with linux. So, i do what any self-respecting tech guy does… Let the kids try it! The old Celeron 1.8G laptops with 1.5G of ram bought from e-bay for my elementary school daughters now choke on the soon to be extinct Windows XP and can barely run flash 11 required by so many of their favorite kids web sites (seriously, kids web site designers should know that kids get the hand-me-downs and should not be compelled to use the latest greatest tools that require more horsepower than launching a space shuttle). Anyway, enter Linux, but which one? I decided on Debian because it is the core used for so many other versions including that used on the Raspberry Pi (if you are a total geek, you need one!). So, Debian Wheezy got installed on the two laptops and it actually went extremely well. The GUI take some getting used to but is fairly intuitive so the kids had no issues at all (they think everything should be touchscreen!). So far there has been no need to use translation tools like WINE to run any windows software. Latest flash really works well on the old hardware…would not even run on XP!
I don’t recommend Debian for the average user (that is why they made Ubuntu) but if you want something that runs extremely efficiently on old hardware, it might be a better option.