I'm a n00b who, until recently, only used Windows. I took the plunge and installed Lubuntu a little over a week ago. Although I have had some seriously frustrating moments, I'm really impressed and excited by what I've seen so far - especially with the power and elegance of the terminal compared to the Windows Command Interpreter!
To give you a little more background about myself, I'm a guy in my early 20's, living near Washington, DC. In the past six months or so, I've gotten really interested in Computer Science, and I will soon be returning to school to pursue a CS degree. My brother and father are both engineers, so I grew up surrounded by computers. I managed to pick up some basic CS vocabulary and learn some rudimentary administrative tasks in Windows when I was younger, but I didn't start to look deeper until recently.
CS is an absolutely massive field, and I find all of it interesting... but programming seems to be my biggest interest. I've been teaching myself C++ for some months now, and, like Linux, I find it seriously frustrating at times, but also incredibly exciting and empowering! The most difficult thing for me right now is staying focussed on one topic, and not getting intimidated by the vast amount of stuff I don't know... I have a really bad habit of opening two dozen wikipedia tabs and getting sidetracked into reading about hardware, IP, math, etc, when I really just need a practical solution to why my widget-counting program won't compile!
At the moment, my goals for learning linux are simple: I want to become a competent user and continue exploring. In the future, I'd like to use a linux platform for developing, and contribute free software of my own some day.
However, I have had some hesitation about learning to develop with C++ in Linux. As I said above, I have a real problem with trying to learn too many different things at once, and as a result, I am not progressing as quickly in C++ as I would like. I'm pretty comfortable using Microsoft's Visual Studio (I have access to some pretty nice Windows machines), so I have to wonder if I should just stick with that for now while I build my C++ foundation, and explore Linux from other angles. The main problem being, I have heard that the GCC toolchain is likely to be overwhelming for a n00b, and while people have some good stuff to say about the Linux C++ IDE's, they always seem to qualify their praise with "but ___IDE still has a long way to go". The counterpoint to these considerations would be that I will learn to use Linux much faster if I make it my primary OS, instead of just tinkering with it at the end of the day.
Many, many thanks to all the people who help run this site and / or contribute their knowledge to it!