So before I get any further, I'm going to come up with a general gameplan here. For starters, I need to invest in some more RAM and another HD. At the same time, I'm going to need to fix up my Hackintosh (I know, I'm moving away from it, but I need it for the transition period), get it all running the way it should.
After that, I'll be running one distribution after another (look for another post talking about different distributions that I'll be trying) in virtual machines. Yes, I know, VMs are not the way to be sure, but seeing as my audio hardware doesn't work in Linux...yet, I kind of need something else. After I've settled on two or three of them, I will most likely be dual booting for a while to test out each of the remainders as a usable environment.
Finally, I'll be migrating to that environment permenantly. I may even take my laptops with me, but that's for another time period. At this point, I'm content to focus on my desktop.
So the general plan is:
Update Hackintosh and purchase new hardware - end of February/beginning of March
Start testing new distributions - as soon as the new purchases are installed and I've done some transfers (got a few ancient drives I need to get rid of)
Choose two or three final candidates and start testing them - Probably about May
Finalize on one and migrate towards it - I'd guess June.
Of course, that's a basic generalization and completely reliant on what appears to be a long term project that might not be usable by June, so, for now, I'm focusing on the Hackintosh.