ninodog wrote:KDE 4 is a different matter. I think it's buggy as hell and not suited to a work environment.
It's definitely getting much better. I'm using SL 5.0 (updated via Portage) with KDE 4.3.3 on a laptop for work, and have to say it works well overall. Earlier versions of KDE 4 were a pain in the neck but the latest versions of KDE 4 have become much better, and KDE 4.4, due out in Q1 2010, looks like it's going to be even better (see another thread for some details). One of the functions that was really annoying me in KDE 4 was Bluetooth, as I use it often to upload photos from my mobile phone to my laptop for work purposes, but I've got it working now, albeit still unstably.
Skype (including Webcam) works very well indeed -- also important for work -- and so do all the usual office tools. As I need 100% compatibility with Microsoft Word in most cases, I also have Word 2000 running under Wine to save me having to dual boot that often. I also have Visio 5 Professional (the last release before Microsoft bought the company) running under Wine, although the native Linux application Dia is installed and I have used it too. That said, there is nothing in Linux that beats Visio.
I have VariCAD Viewer installed, a native Linux application that allows me to view AutoCAD drawings and also saves me having to boot into Windows. The excellent gscan2pdf is a scanning-to-PDF tool that I also use regularly for work purposes. OpenOffice Calc makes an excellent substitute for Microsoft Excel. Thunderbird works perfectly for my heavy use of e-mails for work with large numbers of folders and a huge number of e-mails stored since 2002. I use GQview to view a large number (>13,000) of photo records I need for work purposes.
Both wired and wireless networking work well for me around the world (I travel regularly). The only problem I have had with wireless networking is with not being able to connect to hidden WPA-PSK networks even if I know the network name and password, but I have now found that if I configure the router to broadcast the network name then I can access the WPA network without problem. Wireless range is better than under Windows on the same laptop.
Apart from all the work-related stuff, I also use the laptop for my entertainment: music, video files, Internet and video DVDs.
Acrobat Reader serves me well for work purposes, as does CUPS' virtual PDF printer driver. As I travel a lot, the ability to easily display local and home time and city locations for a large number of time zones in an easy way on the Panel and on a Desktop clock is very handy.
CUPS has served me reasonably well with various printers in different offices, although this is one area where my Windows-using colleagues do have a clear advantage. Occasionally, though, I have the upper hand over Windows users. For example last week two of my Vista-using colleagues could not use Skype or Outlook in an office but I was able to. Sometimes, too, I can access a pen drive that they cannot. However I was unable to get past a Microsoft ISA server at one office, even using ntlmaps definitely configured correctly, and I was never able to get to the bottom of it. Still, Firefox could bypass the ISA server, which at least allowed me to access Webmail and browse the Web for work purposes.
The bottom line: SL is good enough for a work computer, and so is KDE 4.3.3 although the KDE 4 Bluetooth support still needs to improve. Printer support is not as comprehensive as Windows, but works in many cases.
If you're using SL on a work PC then my advice, for what it's worth, regarding world updates is: tread carefully and keep an eye on the SL forums to see if the same problem is being reported frequently, as world updates can break a system or an application. SL is a bleeding-edge distribution, i.e. it is from the testing branch of Gentoo, so you do need to exercise caution with updates to individual packages or world updates. If I didn't also have Windows installed on this laptop I would be dual booting with another, stable Linux distribution simply as a backup measure in order to assist with recovery of SL if the worst were to happen. Furthermore, I would recommend having a separate /home partition for a work PC.