Back at it ... need more research, I guess.
Had to stop for a while & do some other-world stuff (non-PC). Comments on the blog already! Nice to know that maybe someone will catch me getting ready to do something dumb & point me in the right direction.
Well, one thing for sure is that I've still got a lot of choices to narrow down, but there is a HUGE amount of distribution details and comparison info out there. I've determined what some of the 'camps' are all about, and if I can manage to do some better self-analysis instead fo just saying "nah-I don't like that" I might be getting somewhere. This is muddied by the fact that I usually just want to do some specific tasks & get on with it, but every now & then I play around with a home network, edit some video stuff, diagnose my family car problems, etc.
Progress, though. I think I now know that
(1) I'm not a free software purist enough to use total freeware (at least not initially). That helps eliminate some choices.
(2) I gotta have a reasonably easy installer/uninstaller. I'm not afraid of a command line, but I mostly gave that up 10 or 15 years ago and I'm not THAT sorry.
(3) I'm a software-a-holic so item 2 is even more important since I want to keep the results of poor software choice removal to a minimum! And, I suppose that means I should look for a distribution with a large choice of "packages".
(4) I like what Gnome stuff looks like, not too keen on the KDE stuff I've seen. But, now I think I'm finding that it might go deeper than just skin, so I need to investigate that.
Packages ruled out + new questions = more research.