Re: which linux?
Outside of that, Fedora Core 4 is my favorite "real" Linux distribution.
Fedora stopped overly messing with integrated software (kernel in particular), they are getting better about it and concentrate on doing it in few selected places they find important. On FC4 I find I don't have to replace kernel, X11, bash, xterm and compiler anymore.
I *hated* Ubuntu, jesus that is one screwed up Unix. Debian is too old from a package standpoint. Gentoo is a whole OS built around a useless microoptimization, not to mention it doesn't even boot on my dual Opteron. So that's that.
Never tried Suse or Madrake because I see no reason to pay when all the others come at no cost. The major factor here being that I want to hand out CDs to all my friends, which doesn't play to wel if they are $60 apiece.