So I just thought I'd take a moment to show off my geeky side and talk about how much I've been enjoying playing around with ubuntu. I've been dual-booting along with XP, and I've just about got it configured to where it's quite usable on a daily basis [I'm typing this blog post from within ubuntu].
Backing up for a moment [and keeping things as simple as possible]: linux is an operating system [like MS Windows is an OS] and ubuntu is a distribution of linux [like Windows XP is a distribution of MS Windows]. Unlike Windows, most linux distributions are free to dowload and install [...and alter and customize and share with friends and even sell to others] - and so it is with ubuntu. Dual-booting means I've got both ubuntu and windows on my computer [on different partitions of my hard drive] and I can choose which one I want to use on boot-up.
Bottom line: I wouldn't hesitate to suggest this as a daily operating system for my mom [how's that for confidence?] - though she is fairly adept around computers... One caveat, however: I would need to spend a little extra configuration time upfront so that everything works as it should. That said, it's rock-solid, full-featured and open source.