I have spent the past four days on a short vacation in the Piedmont area of northwest Italy (beautiful landscape, wonderful people and excellent food!). This has given me the opportunity to make a "traveling test" of Linux on both of my laptops. During this trip I have tried Ubuntu, Kubuntu (Ubuntu with the KDE desktop), and Mandriva, and all three have performed extremely well.
What does one want or need to do with a laptop while traveling? In my case, it falls into two major categories - internet access (email, web browsing, blogging, working) and digital photo management. It is also relatively important that suspend/resume work correctly on the laptop, for quick and easy access. That much I was able to test before leaving, and confirmed that both Ubuntu and Mandriva suspend/resume just fine.
So, the first major test on arrival was to get an internet connection. If I couldn't pick up a WiFi connection, I would have to boot Windows and try my cellular wireless card. I didn't want to do that not only because I wanted to run Linux, but also because cellular roaming data fees can be quite steep. So I was very pleased to see an available network pop up the first time I booted Ubuntu after we got to the B & B, and even more so when it connected on the first try with no problems. A few quick checks confirmed that the connection was working well, and at a reasonable speed - pick up email, check ZDNet UK, VPN connection to work, all just fine.
Next up, digital photo handling. Both of these laptops have slots for SD/MS flash cards, and both of our cameras use SD cards. We took a few pictures on the way down, so pop the SD card out of the camera and into the laptop... with Ubuntu a very nice, very obvious SD-card icon appears on the desktop, and the F-Spot photo viewer opened; With Kubuntu and Mandriva, both of which use the KDE desktop, the flash card was added to the removable storage menu, and a window came up asking if I wanted to open a browser window or start the digiKam photo manager. Mandriva also includes the ShowFoto program.
Obvious things work - double-click the SD icon and it opens a file browser, navigate to the pictures and they show as icons, double click a picture and it opens in the image viewer. The image viewer has simple options for rotating pictures, full-screen viewing and a slide show of some or all photos. For more advanced photo handling and image editing, the F-Spot photo viewer and/or the digiKam photo manager will download the photos to your computer (and can be set to do that automatically when the flash card is inserted), and then give you options to edit them, adjusting exposure, hue and saturation, cropping and much more. For very advanced photo/graphic editing, the GIMP image editor is available as well.
The bottom line is, I was perfectly happy on the road with Linux, it was able to do everything that I needed and a lot more. This was all with the Linux distributions absolutely "stock", the way they come from their respective web pages, I haven't downloaded or installed any additional software.