Always great to see someone willing to try linux. Might not be the right place here but what I would recommend is doing a discrete install on a separate drive and try several distributions until you find one that you feel comfortable with. People keep recommending many but at the end there is a reason why there are so many distributions. Many pros and cons but as far as I know there is always no 'perfect' distribution until you made your very own
The user interface is highly customizable and you can choose the one you want with each log in. Most distributions offer a variety, from the main ones focusing on universal things like Gnome and KDE, to those concentrating on minimalism (Flux Box, Black Box) or eye candy (Enlightenment) - just to name a few examples. Regarding phone support I guess you ask someone in a user forum of the distribution of your choice.
PS: I'm happy in Fedora distribution with KDE. And a separate drive to try out many others
I doubt if I am capable of assessing different distributions. Nor do I have the time. I am no longer able to organise my life as efficiently as I previously did; it takes me longer to accomplish less, so I am perpetually short of time. (I am 72) I appreciate your response, but I don't think I am any longer capable of what you have suggested. Unless there is a simpler way to get into Linux, I will not be able to do it. The only way I will be able to manage it with the mind I have left is if it is fairly easy and straightforward. I am hoping to find such a way, if any such exists.
My bind is that I am fed up with MS, and their endlessly forcing me to buy new computers and learn new programs which get ever more complex. I have had enough difficulty switching from XP to W7 to doubt if I will be able to deal with a new and more even complex OS when MS decides to force me. I am hoping that I can switch to something I can stay with before my mind slips any further.
Or would Ubuntu force me to keep learning new systems which are ever more complex? Does an option I can learn and stay with for the rest of my life (probably about 15 years) simply not exist?
BTW, I test out at the top of my age group for cognition and memory. I am sharp as 72 yo's go, but that isn't half as sharp as I was ten or twenty years ago.
I will appreciate any help you or anyone else can give me to help me solve this problem.
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I get your point. The more important is that you pick a distribution you feel comfortable with. Many distributions offer so called Live CDs - that boot from CD without the need to install anything - just to try it out. Linux runs great on older hardware (of course there are limits too when too legacy and no one can maintain it anymore - but that's a different topic, you run Win7 so you should be save provided you have no too exotic hardware) so almost any current maintained distribution would work for you. Still what remains is that linux does also evolve and you need to install updates. But usually it does not force you to get a new PC to run it. For example Ubuntu has a LTS version - Long Term Support - that might suit you and should keep you save the next 5 years according to their site (check http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/ ).