hi Robin, on behalf of all, thanks!
It was very well written and explained.
Soooo... XFCE for the netbook and Gnome for the brand-spanking-new dual core laptop it is!
One thing you didn't talk much about, is that KDE has been accused of being a bit less stable - I get the perception that it's more for the geeks/experts/well-entrenched enthusiasts. I've tried it and really don't get what the fuss is all bout - in fact it is almost as though it has the worst of both worlds: slower and less stable. I'll probably get chastised for saying this, but why bother when you have Gnome - it's heavier too, but more stable, with just as much apps. And I definitely wouldn't want something that looks like windoze95 either, referring to some others...
Having choice is a wonderful thing. But when people want to explore it, because by now the masses have all heard of it, having too much choice can be detrimental; intimidating, confusing, daunting, discouraging. Look at Android: only one flavor, they got it onto the smartphones, and now the tablets... what do you think is next? Yes, the desktop! That is where it is heading, and it is the single most serious threat to Windoze and Mac. And Android will have accomplished for Linux what all the distros combined haven't gotten in ten times the time: a significant market share and becoming a significant threat. All this by narrowing it down to one flavor, making some decisions for others. I'm thinking there are too many DEs and WMs. I'm not saying obliviate everything - I'm just trying to make a point here. Consolidation would greatly benefit the community.
And a note to you all, who want the fastest, nimblest, most efficient: when you have relatively machine (P4 or newer), you're really talking milliseconds you're shaving off in most cases, nothing that would either annoy you, or be of a relief by switching.
Looking at the ISO size, Linux no longer is the tiny compact thing with a DOS-like shell we used to think of it as being. The better editions are pretty big! Yes, some may come to Linux to revive old hardware with an XFCE or LXDE flavour, but for most cases, it's the software that it's all about. You literally get (almost) everything you need, for free. OK, I can't get AutoCAD or Inventor or Solidworks for Linux, and that's why I have a dual-boot, but for the rest of you, you can use Linux alone, in place of Windoze or Mac, and save hundreds or thousands on software.