Don't tell anyone...
...because I wouldn't want the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to run short of money for their worthwhile work, but since I only have a few readers...
I"ve finally found a version of Linux that seems to meet all of my needs, out of the box, without a lot of fuss. Meeting "all my needs" requires the occasional use of Windows programs, either by dual-booting to Windows or running Windows in a virtual machine. Neither was very difficult; see below.
I've been using WIndows and Microsoft Office for many years, but have been finding them increasingly annoying, with "updates" that were worse than the versions they replaced forced on us by their use of new file formats (docx, etc.), GHz computers running slower than MHz computers used to because of all the bloatware, etc. But two sticking points in earlier versions of Linux I've tried were:
* Support for two monitors on my desktop PC, one requiring rotation for portrait mode.
* Support for WiFi on my Acer Aspire One netbook.
I'm not saying either was impossible, but I haven't been willing to spend the time to learn the inner workings of Linux enough to solve these problems. I've been busy. (Hence the neglect of this blog.)
Linux Mint handled both of these with ease.
Linux Mint comes with LibreOffice, which handles some things (e.g., importing from various spreadsheet file formats) better than Microsoft Office. It even imports and exports docx, which I suppose will just enable people to keep using that evil format. I'm not sure .odt is better, though. If I can't edit a document file with a plain-vanilla text editor, it's harder to process it with Python.
I also used Linux Mint's package manager to install VirtualBox, installed Windows XP within VirtualBox, and installed MathCAD (one of the few Windows programs I can't do without) on the XP virtual machine. I couldn't get the VirtualBox version of XP to use my second monitor, but if I need two monitors for a Windows program I can still boot to my old copy of XP. Within Linux Mint itself, setting up the two monitors and rotating one was easier than it had been in XP.
I used the same DVD (and an external drive) to replace the aging operating system on my Acer Aspire One with Linux Mint, encouraged by this video. Mint seems to connect to Wifi faster than Linpus did, though other operations seem slower. Mint found my video camera but not the microphone, so I may have to use an external headset for Skype or Google Hangout -- but I couldn't get either of those to work at all with the previous operating system. Mint doesn't respond to tapping the touchpad either, but the buttons work.
Maybe these minor problems can be solved, but I'm really impressed by how well Mint worked out of the box on both desktop and netbook.