I'm in the process of configuring a new laptop - a Dell Studio 15 (4 GB RAM, 320 GB disk, dual CPU) running Windows Vista SP1.
My older machine is an HP Pavilion zv6000 (1GB RAM, 100GB disk) running Windows XP SP2. It has performed reliably and faithfully since 2005.
My first inclination was to simply install a Linux distribution and wipe out the Vista installation.
But my curiosity won - and I am spending some time learning more about Vista.
However, I am also pursuing my desire to migrate most of my consulting work to a Linux environment. I'm evaluating a VMWare Player configuration loaded with Fedora Core 8. Over the weekend I downloaded the latest Fedora Core 9 release - and will setup a disk partition so that I can experience the true performance of it without the overhead of Vista and VMWare. I suspect that I will be very pleased.
I also use a Western Digital external 1 TB USB drive (configured as 500 MB drive with RAID 1) as my primary repository and backup device. Sure the fan is a bit noisy at times (sort of like a 747 warming up for take-off - but I hardly notice it anymore).