Well Ubuntu is one of the biggest leaders in Linux world. Now most software first reach Ubuntu, that is not surprising, it can take pure Debian files as well as specific Ubuntu packages, while other distributions differ by their packages, for example Fedora RPM packages are not very friendly with Opensuse (which by the way I think is one of the best distros available, very solid) what to mention different world of mandriva. IN addition to Debian world, there is an RPM to Deb converter which makes Ubuntu be even more attractive Linux OS choice. But I think that is fine, as much as many people might not like this domination by Ubuntu, but Linux needs at least one standard. Ubuntu seems to be becoming one. if for example Fedora, OpenSuse, Mandrive and other RPM based distros would decide to unite by making one standard RPM package system for installing software then the situation might be different. I guess the best scenario would be for developers simply make a generic installer builder from source code so one package for any Linux distribution, but I guess that would be some extra job for handling dependencies. But I have seen some software that uses this universal installer that includes everything the app would need and the one just needs to press install the application and it will do everything needed to make the application running. But as long as LW plans to port LW to Linux, I do not care it is Ubuntu or not, I want LW, Linux as os is good regardless of which distro it is, but Ubuntu is the most popular. So it is simple.
Just another quick reply... I recently tried Ubuntu LTS on some pretty standard Intel machines and it would not boot. I was completely surprised, tried fedora 16 and the same thing happened. Considering I set a partition aside on the system drive so I could hopefully eventually install Linux this caused a little concern. Far from this forum's purpose to diagnose the issue, but I will mention they are based on Intel S5500SC boards with 9GB ECC RAM, nVidia Quadro 2000 based cards, and for now a single Intel Xeon 5630 processor. These are the starter Avid systems at work, with hopeful expansion to the second processor and another 9GB of matching RAM to make the system we should have bought in the first place but didn't have the extra money.
If I had to do it again I'd go with a comparable SuperMicro board, there are some oddities with these Intel boards that don't go away until the correct drivers are installed, and even then we can't use a USB audio device with the onboard ports because of some kind of odd system sharing or something. Stick a PCI card in and the audio interface works fine when connected to the new card.
1. Any recommendations on which Linux OS to install?
There is a component of Linux that is its weak part, and it is the desktop environment. I think you can choose freely among the various distributions according to many parameters (one that I value is ease of software update, for which Ubuntu is really great), but be very careful as to what desktop environment you choose. I experience freezes with both KDE and Gnome, as well as Unity, and Ubuntu has the very bad habit of changing completely your desktop environment or some of its settings when it sees fit. This is not acceptable for a professional workstation where you are not willing to discover new ways to do old things (e.g., see what programs are running, switch from one to another, start a program) every 6 months.
I had a brief experience with xfce on an old laptop, and it was the most stable desktop I tried. But the test was not thorough enough. Too short, only some hours of work.
Keep also in mind that on Linux (where "everything is a file") I had a program mistake a directory name with a file name, only because I left out the trailing slash; it overwrote a whole directory with the file I was saving. This is the application's fault, but it is the Linux filesystem model that made it possible. Be careful.
2. I want to create a network server to house data from my other PC's, would I use the same box or should I have a separate PC for a network server? If a separate OS version, do you have any recommendations.
This depends on the intensity of use of the server. A file repository for occasional use could be hosted on your main machine; however, if you are not a fan of spinning hard disks, if you anticipate varied and intense requests to the server, at least separate storage is advisable. Separate storage is also a (partial) guard against data losses.
A separate machine could be an additional source of costs, troubles, and power consumption, but also the safest and most effective solution.
At work (university, which means low budget) we have a small server farm with individual virtual machines for file servers, websites for research and teaching, and project servers (e.g. document repositories, CVS). Virtual machines can be an effective solution and help you keep things tidy, either for sharing your single machine's resources or for organizing a separate server. You can try VirtualBox.
I run Ubuntu Studio 12.04 (64 bit), without the new Unity interface - uses up resources better spent on video. Gnome is practical, not flash and pretty.
For editing I use cinelerra, kdenlive, ffmpeg, handbrake, gimp, inkscape, devede and audacity - all free! Cinelerra is the main engine room for editing - powerful when you know what you are doing. A bit on the ugly side, lacks some flexibility, but for a free NLE it handles all my demanding jobs.
Lack of decent DVD authoring and Motion Graphics is the biggest drawback on linux.
But you can buy nero dvd authoring for a small fee, but get by with the free tools
linux is powerful and stable. I have a fairly high spec desktop for this, but anything that is 1 - 2 years old is now out of date. I went with Ubuntu mainly as it is well supported and regularly updated. I'm sure there are distros slightly better, but Ubuntu works fine for me.