I finally took the plunge. After about a year of window shopping, I'm finally making my first blog post from a computer (my laptop) running the Linux operating system. It was a tad scary, and I had a buddy of mine present when the hard drive itself got partitioned, but I just made my last hurdle: getting the wireless configuration to work at my house.
I'm still getting my feet wet, but everything looks good so far. I have to add that there is a certain perverse thrill in downloading an operating system and installing it legally. Here's hoping the fun continues.