Operating System installs aren't for everybody.
As far as whether Linux is ready for prime time, I think it is; but that comes with the caveat that end users are not OS installers. Generally speaking an end user buys a computer with an OS pre-installed, if they need to "re-install" they run a system restore disk or partition, the disk or partition is scripted to do everything for them and is designed to work with the specific hardware they bought.
These same things can be accomplished for Linux, and an end-user that is interested in having Linux could pay a local geek a couple bills to do the initial install for them, and still come out ahead in the monetary aspect compared to Windows or OSX. Even when paying a linux guy a couple hundred to do your install and set-up, you still don't have to pay for anti-virus, you still don't have to pay for any productivity, gaming, or multimedia software. You don't have to pay to have viruses removed, to have the system reloaded, etc.. etc..
So really what this comes down to, is end-users accepting the idea that just because they payed nothing for the OS doesn't mean they will pay nothing to have it installed for them. I own a car, I pay a mechanic to fix the car, does this mean that cars are not ready for prime-time because the average automobile end-user can not install their own motor? What if someone gave me a really nice motor free of charge, does this mean that I should feel the need to try to install it myself, and then disparage the motor manufacture because I do not have the ability to do it?
These FUD posts about Linux not being ready for prime-time exist in every linux forum I've ever registered on. I give this similar sermon every time I see them.
Heres the deal, if you would like linux, but are not capable of doing your own installs, then just pay someone who is. Your initial investment in their labor will ultimately save you thousands down the road. If a solid distro is installed properly, then the only thing that can mess it up is the end-user; the lesson here, don't go banging around under the hood if you don't know what your doing. Install software, but leave tweaking the way the operating system works to a professional.
Aight /soapbox OFF
Have fun, and put it in perspective, MS Windows tech shops only charge what? $75-$99 an hour for repair work?