Having just finished my B.Sc. thesis the short Eastern vacation was more than welcome for me. At the end of the day, I was able to do all the writing and typesetting needed using a text only Debian system. LaTeX, Koma Script and Emacs were fully adequate tools for all of my needs.
As usual, the BibTeX caused some headache but most of the problems were solved by Shiro Takeda's econ.bst. Martin J. Osborne's te.bst was another good candidate for building the bibliography. After this experience I'm pretty confident I can use the same combination of software for even bigger writing projects. If my supervisor accepts the slight differences between the final version and the official Word template of the school I will no doubt continue using this system for all the homework I have to write during my final year at the business school.
Today, I've been building a Linux box for my wife to be used mainly for serious writing (she's a humanities PhD) and Impress presentations. The hardware is probably old enough to be considered old hardware by most of my readers: 1.7 GHz processor and 256 MB RAM. Unfortunately, none of the distro's tried seem to be able to connect to the internet using the network card built on the motherboard. At the moment I don't have any extra network cards so I cannot build the system using only the spare parts I have. I just hope the motherboard stays alive for a year or two as at the moment we are living on a rather tight budget.
This time I decided to install Zenwalk 6.2 on the box. It is pretty lightweight, easy to configure and provides everything my wife needs out of the box and not too much software she would never need. Furthermore, Xfce provides all the desktop functionality she expects to find in her desktop system and she should be able to use the system confortably without my help.