I've been using linux all-but-exclusively for the last decade and am considered an expert in most circles.
I started with Gentoo in college, using stage-1 installs. This meant you built everything from source. You would boot a small "image" that got you started and you would bootstrap your cross compiler, kernel and base system. Then you'd reboot, and start building the rest of the system. I do not recommend this for beginners, or even experts if you want to use your machine for anything other than learning they very nitty-gritty details of linux, filesystems, compilation, etc.
Once done with college I moved on to using Ubuntu. I think I went with it originally because of it's popularity and it was the "buzzword" type distro at the time I was looking to move to a binary distro. I was tired of the little idiosyncrasies that came with Gentoo based on everything being compiled from source. Sometimes when I wanted to add support for something, I'd have to re-configure/re-build 6 or 7 components to enable support for something whereas in most binary distros, it's as easy as "install new library X". I dabbled with red hat (before it was FC) and hated RPM's and their dependency checking. I had multiple installs break due to it. This was another factor in me choosing Ubuntu.
Fast forward a couple years, I have been working as an linux device driver writer for embedded systems (set top boxes) and we use buildroot/gcc/glibc/uclibc/etc. for our builds and Ubuntu kept finding it necessary to move include paths, libraries, etc. and maintaining support for build infrastructure became too much work, I switched to Debian.
It's been a few years now that I've been using Debian 6.0 (squeeze) exclusively on my desktops/laptops. It works great and I'm likely to update to Wheezy soon.
The only other distro I've played with a little bit is arch linux. I use that on a couple smaller devices like the pogoplug, dockstar, tonidoplug, and sheevaplug. I use all of these devices and am relatively happy with that distro in a limited environment.
Since I'm not a "gamer", I have found alternatives for pretty much everything I need in the open source world. That's photo editing/organization (basic use), video editing (although I have basic needs), word processing, programming utilities, etc. The only thing I've used windows for in the last few years were updating a GoPro (God help me w/ their windows only crap), a fancy-pants universal remote I sold because the software was windows only), and sequencing software for my Christmas Light display. My plan this year is to "drive" the show with a raspberry pi to keep more things linux-friendly.
Linux Guy - Occasional Chumby Hacker