I've dragged out the Pear linux system so that Chris has a PC downstairs for hotmail etc. Considering it's based on Ubuntu 11.10 and is running with only 2Gb RAM it's doing pretty well. The Apple style interface is half pleasing, half annoying, but it runs so much more swiftly than the Macbook it's not *so* bad.
Did an update on the system, and suddenly very few menus are in French, plus FF is up to version 10. Tucked away behind the scenes are some good tools too: Dolphin file manager, DigiKam is in the app store (nice, since that's a KDE app) as is GIMP and Audacity.
The way the program launcher has been configured is good - sits in the dock and when activated you get the full Gnome 3/OSX Lion screens full of app icons, but they behave just like the Dashboard in OSX and go away when you click somewhere on the screen.
Typical for Ubuntu, fonts are a bit weak, but definitely less so than before, especially since I'm running the Nouveau driver. The one weakness so far is that I'm using an ATI based card (5850 IIRC) which has a very noisy fan that runs continuously, and the catalyst drivers don't work. Ah well, can't have *everything*.
I have Windows 8 beta here ready to install, but somehow can't be bothered right now.
*edit* Pear Linux - an update
I'm impressed with some of the stuff that's been implemented - using the space bar to preview a file is a good feature in OSX, and something they've reproduced here. Neat. I'm wondering if an Fn key will also perform an expose-style resizing of multiple open windows (which helps make up for poor window management through the dock) - scrub that - there's a Docky applet which does that instead. Also the intelligent dock is nice, disappearing if it's in the way, staying up when it isn't.
Just like OSX, making changes to the look & feel is much more restricted than usual for Linux, but in this case that would stop it looking & functioning like (a very fast version of) OSX. And regarding speed, it really is quite snappy on the whole. One of the dock applets displays system resource usage as a colour change (green to red) and it is possible to hear the CPU fan accelerate and slow almost instantly in response to load. If I thought I might keep using this system then I'd seriously think about some quieter fans, maybe a passive graphics card.
And windows management occasionally does unpredictable things with window sizing, just like etc etc. Humph.