One problem that comes up when changing OS, is whether things like webcams, printers etc. are compatable. If you're lucky, you can find drivers in Linux or if you feel adventurous - try some tricks to get it to work. This involves such things as terminals, and commands, searching in files, etc. Not to mention some knowledge of computer programming. The thing is, that it may not work. Even the same thing from the same manufacturer, has different chip sets. In that case, sometimes it is better to buy something new that is supported by Linux. Most manufacturers have lists on thier web sites. Which is what I ended up doing for my webcam. Prices have gone down a lot, so it's not like you'll spend a fortune, and you will have something that will work for sure.
This however, creates another problem. What to do with the old hardware,etc. that you can't use? Some things can be reused by someone else. Others can be recycled... if there are facilities in your area. In mine there aren't. I have given some away to people who can't afford to buy new parts... but a lot is left in boxes in a cupboard. I call it the Museum of Old Technology. It isn''t so much that the parts don't work, they do... just not with Linux.
At any rate..... it took me all of 3 days to configure the computer so that everything works with Linux. Not bad considering that it was the very first time I had ever done it.( They weren't 3 consecutive days, just random days.. whenever I had some free time, and no more than an hour each time.) Before someone else did it, my sons, or my cousin. This time I was all alone.... with the only help, other than the various forums, websites, magazines, etc.was from a friend who showed me how to use terminals and my son saying that... if I felt adventurous enough, I could probably play around until I found what worked. I did, and it did... work. Actually, most of the time was spend reading on what/ how to do something , than doing it. I wanted to be sure I knew what do before trying something. I now have an 11 old computer running on a Linux/ Ubuntu 8.10 OS. Total cost..... 1 new web cam- 45 euroes, 1 ethernet port- 15 euroes, and 30 euroes for a good clean up/ service. = 90 euroes. It should last for a few more years. That is one less computer that will polute the enviornment.
So... now I can spend time doing things with the computer... other than trying to fix something. I don't have to worry about virus's fake or not, or have strange and offensive adds pop up on web pages. I can enjoy the experience and the benefits of the internet.